SLG NEWSLETTER: FEBRUARY – MARCH 2021

Dear Friends and Clients,

I may first draw your attention to our webinar series. Following this introduction, you will find the links to the webinars already held. You can view and also download these recordings.

We have primarily dealt with insolvency law and tax law but also compliance issues. Two webinars are still outstanding, namely those on the advantages of a second residency and on asset protection.

In this newsletter you will read how to become a citizen of the UAE, which is not easy. Apart from the high threshold to fulfil all criteria, it should also be noted that some countries, including Austria, sanction the voluntary acceptance of another citizenship with the loss of the original citizenship. So if you as an Austrian actually become a UAE citizen, this would result in the loss of your Austrian citizenship. It is different if you acquire a foreign citizenship by descent. Then the Austrian citizenship would remain.

Singapore has managed to set a fast insolvency procedure for companies damaged and impaired by Covid. This should make example. You will find the details in the newsletter.

It is assumed that the Covid pandemic will soon come to an end, those who still have the appropriate financial background should enter the investment phase. They will hardly be able to buy up competitors as cheaply as they can now, or even acquire a new home or land. The property market in the UAE has probably bottomed out and is in an upward phase. Not least due to the upcoming expo, property prices should rise considerably in the short term.

But you can also buy cheaply in other countries at the moment. In those jurisdictions where we are active, the hurdles that only local citizens can buy land can be overcome with our help. In Thailand, for example, you can buy agricultural land or rentable condominiums/villas that guarantee an annual yield of between 3 and 8%. And the Thai Baht is one of the strongest currencies worldwide.

According to some of our clients, the governmental crisis in Myanmar should not lead, at least in the short term, to the withdrawal of the foreign investors who have brought considerable money into the country since 2011. Let’s wait and see and how the new military government deals with the existing laws. If the foreign investment laws remain in force it is to be expected that at least currently no exodus of international investors takes place.

Cambodia is still in economic recovery despite Covid. Here, too, one should quickly decide to jump on this train because it is unlikely to be as cheap as now to buy businesses or even properties.

So take advantage of the probably imminent end of the crisis. What further economic impact this crisis will have on us is not foreseeable. So if you still have money on the high edge then better invest it now than to wait and see whether it will come to a galloping inflation or not.

So slaughter your piggy bank, advises you.

Yours,

Theodor Strohal

Webinar Calendar

We have recently held webinars on the following topics:

  • Beschränkte und unbeschränkte Steuerpflicht in Österreich für Expats. Die unbekannte Seite der Steuergesetze: unbeschränkte Steuerpflicht muss kein Nachteil für Expats sein. (German)
    https://youtu.be/p4BXTFLVvmg
  • International Bankruptcy Law. A guide through jurisdictions in ASEAN and Europe. What is COMI and which choice do you have on where to open the bankruptcy procedures? Big companies already decided to initiate restructuring procedures, why not you? (English)
    https://youtu.be/eKGk1sV-CUQ
  • Compliance, Compliance: ESR, CRS, UBOR, MDR – Challenges and Solutions. Economic Substance Regulations, Common Reporting Standard, Ultimate Beneficial Ownership Regulations, European Mandatory Disclosure Regime and others. These legal innovations of recent years have a significant impact on businesses, both locally and internationally. We explained how to best deal with these regulations and provide possible solutions. (English)
    https://youtu.be/KtMNQAGUCmI
  • Restructuring under UAE Insolvency and Bankruptcy Laws.

Creditors knock on your door? Your cheques bounced? The bank confiscates your car and the landlord announces to evacuate you? Many businesses worldwide are under enormous pressure and some will no longer be able to meet their liabilities on time and in full. We will present solutions open to UAE companies but also to individuals in the event of a crisis, and elaborate on creditors’ rights.
Language: English
https://youtu.be/cp82CMnxRfc

In the news section of our website you can download the power point presentations and view the webinars on Youtube.

Upcoming webinars:

  • The Advantages of a Second Residence.

A second residence can be a significant advantage in many respects. Lower taxes, visa-free travel, cheaper education, retirement homes, access to expanded business structures and much more. We elaborate on the requirements and advantages of a second residence in some ASEAN countries and in the UAE.

Language: English
Date and Time: 17 March 2021, Wednesday, 04:00 – 05:00 pm Dubai Time (GMT+4)

  • Asset Protection

Carefree live those who have nothing. But protecting your honestly acquired assets from being seized can be difficult. Which legal asset protection measures are available? Do bank accounts in Switzerland or Liechtenstein help? Do Singapore or Jersey trusts help? Foundations, family funds?

Language: English
Date & Time: 24 Mar 2021, Wednesday, 04:00 – 05:00 pm Dubai Time (GMT+4)

Please register by providing the name of the webinar, full name, company and phone no. via e-mail to monica@advocates.cc.

UAE: Amendment of Nationality Law

The UAE government has announced an amendment to the Emirati Nationality Law No. 17 of 1972. This allows non-Emirati nationals to gain UAE citizenship who will be nominated through the Emirates rulers’ court, the executive council in the cabinet and the courts of the crown princes. The Dubai ruler himself has tweeted regarding the new law which stated, “We adopted law amendments that allow granting the UAE citizenship to investors, specialized talents & professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families. The new directives aim to attract talents that contribute to our development journey.

Requirements:

1. Investors
• Requires owning a property in the UAE.

2. Doctors and skilled professionals
• Must have a specialized skill in a unique scientific field that gives significant contribution to the development of the country.
• Has contributed to studies and research in their respective field.
•  Holds 10 years of experience.
• Obtained an active membership in a prestigious organization in their field.

3. Scientists
• Must be an active contributor to research and studies at a university, private sector or research institute.
• Holds 10 years of experience in their field of study.
• Must be a consummate professional in their field.
• Has acquired a letter of recommendation from a recognized university in UAE.

4. Inventors
• Has at least one patent certified by the UAE Ministry of economy or any other globally recognized international body.
• Holds a letter of recommendation from the Ministry of economy.

5. Intellectuals with creative talents
• Holds one or more intellectual award or a pioneer in the field of culture and arts.
• Has a recommendation letter from related government entities.

Citizenship can be granted to the above mentioned individuals and their family and allows them to retain their existing citizenship. However, it can be withdrawn upon breach of the conditions. Beneficiaries are expected to uphold and fully respect the laws and governance, take an oath of allegiance to the UAE and to officially inform the respective government agency in case of acquiring or losing any other citizenship.

UAE: Update on Covid-19 on traveling

The Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in Dubai have announced updates regarding travel protocols for inbound passengers starting January 31.

  • UAE residents, GCC citizens and visitors are required to do a PCR test prior to departure for Dubai irrespective of the country they are coming from.
  • Arrivals from certain countries (based on the pandemic situation in those countries) require an additional test on arrival in Dubai.
  • Protocols will remain the same for UAE citizens returning to the country from overseas, which exempt them from undergoing a PCR test prior to departure, regardless of the country they are coming from. They will only be required to conduct a PCR test on arrival in Dubai.
  • Reduction of the validity period of PCR tests from 96 hours to 72 hours.

The Dubai Airports Company is tasked to provide Rapid PCR or Rapid Antigen testing at Dubai airports, in cooperation with relevant authorities, to facilitate travel procedures for passengers departing from Dubai to countries that require pre-travel test, in accordance with the time-frame specified.

Saudi Arabian: Travel update and boarder opening

The Saudi Ministry of Interior postpones the lifting of travel suspension for its citizens to May 17, 2021 instead of March 31. The Kingdom will not open all of its borders in full until the said date. The decision is based on the late delivery of COVID-19 vaccine by manufacturers as announced by the Ministry of Health.

Dubai: Homeowners can now move against their property management companies

Dubai homeowners can now file formal complaints against property management companies if they find serious insufficiencies in the quality of their building’s maintenance. The complaints can be done through Rental Disputes Centre under Dubai Land Department. Homeowners now have a forum to present their complaints against OA management companies and get a full accounting of what they are doing with the service charges.

Far East:

Thailand: Commerce authority launches new service site

The Commerce Ministry of Thailand launched the MOC Online One-Stop Service. The new service covers four areas comprising 22 services related to business registration, 11 services for intellectual property, 28 services related to international trade, and 24 services regarding internal trade issues. Clients no longer need to visit a ministry office or a provincial office and some online procedures can only take 10 minutes from the usual 1 to 2 days. The new system also provides statistics, information and investment and business analysis services to clients.

Thailand: Parliament decides on Amended Copyright Act

A new draft of the Copyright Act is scheduled to go before parliament. It covers makers and distributors of devices used for hacking and enlarge protection for photographs. It will enable Thailand to align with the Copyright Treaty of the World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo). According to the country’s Commerce Minister, the draft amendments aim to boost efficiency in suppressing intellectual property violations on the internet and build up the confidence of copyright creators.

Singapore: Simplified Debt Restructuring and Winding Up Procedures

Small and micro companies that have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and need to restructure their debts can apply for support to under a new programme from January 29. According to the Ministry of Law, applications for the Simplified Insolvency Programme (SIP) will be open until July 28 and the period may be extended if the need arises. The SIP consists of 2 programs:

  • Simplified Debt Restructuring Programme (SDRP) for the restructuring of debts and the potential rehabilitation of viable businesses.
  • Simplified Winding Up Program (Swup) for the orderly winding up of non-viable businesses.

 Eligibility Criteria:
• Annual sales turnover not exceeding $10 million;
• Number of creditors not exceeding
• Number of employees not exceeding 30;
• Company liabilities (including contingent and prospective liabilities) not exceeding $2 million;
• Realizable unencumbered assets not exceeding $50,000 (for SWUP only);
• The MSC is not a foreign company; and
• There are no circumstances that make the applicant company unsuitable for the SIP. These circumstances include but are not limited to the company having commenced or being in other insolvency proceedings.

Besides the SIP, non-corporate businesses may also tap on the Sole Proprietors and Partnerships (“SPP”) Scheme7 administered by Credit Counseling Singapore, as well as the support measures introduced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to help Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (“SMEs”) deal with their short term cash flow difficulties.

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