Companies that operate in Serbia transferred last year a total of EUR 930 million from Serbia to offshore companies in various countries with most of the money ending up in Hong Kong (EUR 764 million), Singapore (EUR 67.3 million) and the British Virgin Islands (EUR 22 million).
According to the National Bank of Serbia, millions of euros were simultaneously transferred to Panama (EUR 10 million), Liechtenstein and the Marshall Islands (EUR 9 million each), and the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Belize and Seychelles (EUR 3 million each).
It is also interesting to note that the list of the most popular offshore countries has changed significantly compared to a few years ago. For example, in 2015, the Netherlands was the most popular offshore destination for Serbian companies, while Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands ranked second and third respectively.
The first ten countries accounted for over 97.7 per cent of total money transfers to offshore companies last year. Most of the payments were made by metal industry companies, as much as 44 per cent.
Other companies that transferred money to offshore destinations include wireless and cable telecommunications companies (7 per cent), computer and peripheral equipment companies (7 per cent), electrical household appliances companies (6 per cent), non-specialized wholesale trade companies (5 per cent) and manufacturers of electrical equipment for motor vehicles (2 per cent).
The motive for the establishment of offshore companies could also be concealing the identity of the rightful owner. Also, the owner of an offshore company is exempt from paying capital gains tax when selling the company. If the offshore company generates profit, the owner can pay out dividends and avoid taxation in Serbia.
The National Bank of Serbia applies the Eurostat’s international classification of offshore countries.
The most popular offshore zones in the world are small countries like Liechtenstein and Monaco, but also strong European economies, such as Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, and the city of London. In Asia and Latin America, there are also many “tax havens”, and the two best known are Hong Kong and Macau.
Source; Serbian Monitor