Update May 2014
This post or any other post in the “Offshore service providers in review” series is not a recommendation. The purpose is simply to verify that a provider is a real, verifiable company, which – where applicable – holds adequate licenses
This is especially important to keep in mind, because SFM Offshore’s quality has decreased significantly since this article was posted. I no longer use them. However, they remain a verifiable company in Switzerland, with a license in the Seychelles.
This will be a series of reviews of offshore service providers (OSPs) that I have personal experience with. I will also go through how to do due diligence on OSPs.
First up is SFM-Offshore.
SFM-Offshore is a Swiss-based OSP offering a fairly wide range of jurisdictions for offshore company formation, covering all major jurisdictions:
- Hong Kong
- Mauritius (GBC class II)
- Ras al-Khaimah (RAK, UAE)
They used to offer Costa Rica, but this seems to have removed in the last year or so.
As for bank accounts, SFM offers these jurisdictions:
- Hong Kong
- St. Vincent
Overall an impressive selection, although I would like to see Liechtenstein and UAE (Dubai or RAK) bank accounts.
In terms of pricing, SFM-Offshore is neither the cheapest nor are they the most expensive. As of writing, a Seychelles IBC is US$ 1,090 or € 790. With bank account, that comes to around $ 1,400 or € 1,110. The fact that they offer multiple currencies (USD, EUR, CHF, and GBP) is great.
They also offer all the usual additional services such as nominees, virtual office, power of attorney. Another highlight is the live chat which is available during office hours in Switzerland.
So now we know that SFM-Offshore has an impressive selection of products, reasonable pricing, and even allows multi-currency payments. Ready to order?
Not so fast!
Now we start our own due diligence on SFM. Are they who they say they are? Who is SFM?
The most basic thing is to perform a whois on their domain: sfm-offshore.com.
Domain name: sfm-offshore.com Registrant: SFM corporate services SA Afshar Reza Rue du Marche 7 Geneve, 1204 CH +41.223110383 email@example.com Administrative Contact: SFM corporate services SA Reza Afshar 7 rue du marché genève, 1204 CH +41.223110383 firstname.lastname@example.org Technical Contact: SFM corporate services SA Reza Afshar 7 rue du marché genève, 1204 CH +41.223110383 email@example.com Billing Contact: SFM corporate services SA Reza Afshar 7 rue du marché genève, 1204 CH +41.223110383 firstname.lastname@example.org Registrar of Record: OVH. Record last updated on 2012-03-19. Record expires on 2013-07-23. Record created on 2009-09-30.
The address does not match, but in this case it’s fine because SFM moved offices in 2012 and have not yet updated their domain whois. Their current address is:
20, rue Adrien Lachenal
The phone number matches what is shown on their website.
The domain name belongs to one Reza Afshar. Remember this name. We will now look up SFM in the Swiss public registry.
First up, we go to Zefix.ch,which is the Federal Commercial Registry Office of Switzerland. If we search for “SFM” in Geneva, four companies are found:
SFM Accounting Services SA in Genève, Ltd, +++, CH-660.3.136.012-1
SFM Corporate Services SA in Genève, Ltd, +++, CH-660.2.601.006-8
SFM Holding SA in Genève, Ltd, +++, CH-660.0.035.949-4
SFMH SA in Genève, Ltd, +, CH-660.0.751.010-7
As we know from above and is mentioned on their website, SFM Corporate Services SA is the full company name of SFM-Offshore. If we click the link for more details about this company, the following page is displayed:
This tells us that the company has existed since November 16 2006, has a share capital of 500,000 CHF, and that the company has done its annual filings. Mr. Reza Afshar also appears as one of the directors and the address matches the address displayed on the website.
In short: SFM checks out.
But let’s dig further, just to be safe.
SFM-Offshore is represented on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/202198
We can also verify SFM-Offshore on the Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA) website, where they are listed as an International Corporate Service Provider (ICSP) as SFM LTD.
On its website, SFM-Offshore claims membership of four associations:
- The international Fiscal Association (IFA)
- The international Tax Planning Association (ITPA)
- The Geneva Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIG)
- Seychelles Association & offshore Practitioners & Registered Agents (SAOPRA)
Unfortunately, IFA and ITPA do not publish a public list of members on their websites.
SFM can be verified on the CCIG website, which redirects us to http://www.swissfirms.ch/Details.aspx?ENOFI=01503268.
SAOPRA has a nice and easy list available on their website (http://www.saopra.sc/members.html) where SFM LTD appears:
SFM is transparent and compliant OSP with several years of expertise. They can be verified across multiple authorities and websites.
I have used them on a number of occasions and it has always been a pleasure.