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Our Locations

CISA Trust Company (Switzerland) S.A.

  • 65 Rue du Rhône, 7th Floor

  • 1204 Geneva

  • Switzerland

  • +41 22 734 55 50

  • info@cisatrust.ch
Memberships:

Association Romande des Intermédiaires Financiers (ARIF), a self-regulatory organization recognized by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) for the supervision of Financial Intermediaries

Swiss Association of Trust Companies (SATC)
SATC

Trust Services – Switzerland

CISA Trust Company (Switzerland) SA

CISA was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1972, and provides bespoke trust services to a select international clientele. The headquarters of the CISA group is in Geneva.

Licensing and Supervision

CISA is classified as a Financial Institution under FinIA, and is subject to licensing and prudential supervision by OSIF under authority of FINMA.

Affiliated Companies

CISA has affiliated trust companies in the BVI and South Dakota, and marketing affiliates in New York and Miami.

Wealth Planning

CISA advises clients on the most appropriate types of trusts for succession, tax and asset protection planning, in conjunction with their legal and tax advisors.

Applicable Trust Law

Switzerland does not have a body of domestic trust law. As a result, CISA will designate the laws of a suitable common law trust jurisdiction, such as Bahamas, Cayman, or England and Wales, as the governing law of the trust. Switzerland ratified the Hague Convention on Trusts (1985), effective July 1, 2007, and recognizes foreign trusts.

Swiss Trust Services

CISA provides a full range of trust services in Switzerland, including reserved powers trusts, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, discretionary trusts, fixed interest trusts, etc. CISA also offers Private Trust Companies (PTCs) and Purpose Trusts to hold the shares of PTCs.

CISA is typically directed as to investments by an Investment Advisor appointed in the trust deed, and a Protector is typically appointed to exercise certain powers, including powers to appoint and remove the trustee, and the power to consent to certain trustee actions. CISA holds a wide range of assets in trust, including financial assets, real estate, operating companies, aircraft, yachts, etc.

Swiss Company Management Services

CISA provides incorporation and company management services for Swiss companies and partnerships. Switzerland has a favorable corporate regime for holding and trading companies, the Société Anonyme (SA) and the Société a Responsabilité Limitée (Sarl). In addition, Switzerland authorizes the limited partnership, Société en Commandite, which is fiscally transparent and has quasi-legal personality.

Swiss Taxation

In general, Switzerland does not consider trusts to be tax subjects as they are not legal entities. The trustee is treated as a fiduciary and is not subject to tax on the income or the trust assets, with the exception of trusts holding Swiss real estate. In respect of settlors and beneficiaries, these would not be subject to tax unless resident in Switzerland, and depending on the nature of the trust, distributions, etc. There is an established Federal and Cantonal tax regime for foreign trusts. See Tax Circulaire No. 30, Conférence Suisse des Impots, (2007).

Corporations in the Canton of Geneva are taxed at favorable rates of 6.7% plus Federal tax at 7.3%, for a total of approx. 14%. Dividends from participations (10% or more), and disposals of participations, are exempt from Cantonal and Federal tax.

Accounting Services

CISA provides book-keeping and accounting services for all trusts and entities under administration.

Double Tax Treaties (DTTs)

Swiss resident individuals and corporations benefit from Switzerland’s extensive network of Double Tax Treaties (DTTs).

International Investment Agreements (IIAs)

Swiss nationals, corporations, and partnerships benefit from Switzerland’s IIA network, which provide for international arbitration in case of expropriation or confiscation.

OECD Convention on Mutual Assistance

Switzerland is a signatory to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, which requires exchange of information “on request”, and authorizes spontaneous and automatic exchange.

Common Reporting Standard (CRS)

Switzerland is a signatory to the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) for the automatic exchange of account information. CISA is registered with the Federal Tax Administration as a Reporting Financial Institution.

FATCA

Switzerland has a Model 2 IGA with the United States for the automatic exchange of account information. CISA is registered with the IRS as a Financial Institution (FFI).

Entity Classification Services

CISA provides entity classification support for CRS and FATCA, including assistance with completion of CRS Self-Certification Forms and IRS Forms W-8BEN-E.

Switzerland Governing Laws

Constitution and Legal System

Switzerland is a federation of states composed of 26 Cantons, which exercise a high degree of autonomy from the federal government. Switzerland has a civil law legal system, derived in large part from Roman law, where laws are established in legally binding written codes.

Applicable Trust Law

Switzerland does not have a body of domestic trust law. As a result, CISA Trust will designate the laws of a suitable common law trust jurisdiction as the governing law of the trust, such as the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, or the laws of England and Wales.

Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on Trusts (1985)1 was ratified by Switzerland and entered into effect on July 1, 2007, resulting in the recognition of foreign trusts by Swiss courts. Prior to this, Swiss courts dealt with trust matters by applying a mixture of contractual, corporate, and foundation law.2 Trusts have been effectively recognized by the Swiss courts since the Harrison case in 1970.3

The Convention does not prevent the application of provisions of Swiss law the law, which cannot be derogated from by voluntary act, relating to:

  • the protection of minors and incapacitated persons;

  • the personal and proprietary effects of marriage;

  • succession rights and the indefeasible rights of spouses and relatives (forced heirship);

  • the transfer of title to property and security interests; and,

  • the protection of creditors in insolvency.

Thus, under the Convention, Swiss courts will apply the governing law of the trust, except with respect to the above matters.4 The provisions of the Convention may be disregarded by Switzerland if application would be “manifestly incompatible” with public policy.5

Licensing and Supervision

Under the new Swiss Financial Institutions Act (FinIA), trust companies are classified as Financial Institutions, and are subject to licensing and prudential supervision by OSIF (Organisme de Surveillance des Instituts Financiers) under authority of FINMA.

 

1 Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition (1985)
2 Private International Law Act (1989)
3 Harrison vs. Credit Suisse (1970)
4 Hague Convention, Article 15
5 Hague Convention, Article 18

Trust Laws of England and Wales

Constitution and Legal System

The trust laws of England and Wales are based on common law principles, where courts follow principles decided in other cases, stare decisis, which may be superseded by legislation.

Applicable Trust Laws

The trust laws of England and Wales are set-forth in the Trustee Acts of 1925 and 2000, the Recognition of Trusts Act 1987, the Insolvency Act

Trust Period

The maximum trust period is 125 years for Trusts established after April 6, 2010.

Reserved Powers

The Trustee Act of England and Wales does not provide for reserved powers trusts.

Disclosure of Information to the Beneficiaries.

English common law rules apply. Beneficiaries with vested interests, as well as discretionary beneficiaries, and objects of powers, have rights to information. under England and Wales trust law to the disclosure of information to Beneficiaries.

Private Trust Companies

Private Trust Companies (PTCs) are not provided for under England and Wales law.

Purpose Trusts

Purpose Trusts are not authorized, other than wholly charitable trusts and trusts of “imperfect obligation,” such as arrangements to maintain animals, upkeep of graves, etc.

Firewall Provisions

The England and Wales Trustee Act does not contain express firewall provisions shielding trust assets from foreign law claims arising from a personal relationship (matrimonial or community property rights) with the settlor and claims arising from heirship, or barring the recognition or enforcement of foreign judgements recognizing such rights.

Asset Protection

England and Wales law does not contain express asset protection legislation. The Fraudulent Conveyances Act, referred to as the Statute of Elizabeth, was replaced by the Insolvency Act.

Trust Laws of the Cayman Islands

Constitution and Legal System

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory (OT). The legal system is based on English common law, and appeals from local courts lie with the Privy Council.

Applicable Trust Laws

The applicable Cayman laws are contained in The Trusts Law, The Perpetuities Law, The Banks and Trust Companies Law, and the Fraudulent Dispositions Law.

Trust Period

The maximum trust period is 150 years. STAR trusts may be of unlimited duration.

Reserved Powers

The Cayman trust Law authorizes wide reserved powers in favor of the settlor.

Disclosure of Information to Beneficiaries

English common law rules apply. Beneficiaries with vested interests, as well as discretionary beneficiaries, and objects of powers, have rights to information. Beneficiaries do not have rights to information under the STAR trusts regime.

Private Trust Companies (PTCs)

PTCs are exempt from the requirement to obtain a trust license. PTCs are only authorized to conduct trust business for a family group, and may not offer trust services to the public.

Purpose Trusts

Cayman authorizes purpose trusts, which have purposes as objects, under the STAR trust regime. The trustee of a purpose trust must be a licensed Cayman trust company or a registered PTC.

Firewall Provisions

The Firewall legislation requires Cayman law to be applied to all matters concerning Cayman law trusts, and shields trust assets from foreign law claims arising from a personal relationship (matrimonial or community property rights) with the settlor and claims arising from heirship, and prohibits the recognition or enforcement of foreign judgements recognizing such rights

Asset Protection

Creditors must show that the dispositions of property were made with an intent to defraud, the creditor has the burden of proof, and must bring a claim within 6 years from the date of the disposition. Dispositions will be set-aside only to the extent of the obligation.

Trust Laws of the Bahamas

Constitution and Legal System

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is a self-governing member of the British Commonwealth. The legal system is based on English common law, and appeals lie with the Privy Council.

Applicable Trusts Laws

The applicable Bahamas laws are contained in the Trustee Act, the Trustee Amendment Act, the Trusts (Choice of Governing Law) Act, and the Fraudulent Dispositions Act

Trust Period

Trusts may be of unlimited duration. The perpetuity period has been abolished in the Bahamas.

Reserved Powers

Bahamas law authorizes wide reserved powers in favor of the settlor.

Disclosure of Information to Beneficiaries

The trustee has a duty to inform beneficiaries with a vested interest in the trust of the existence and general terms of the trust. Discretionary and contingent beneficiaries have no rights to information.

Private Trust Companies (PTCs)

PTCs do not require licensing or supervision but must appoint a Bahamas Registered Representative, which must be a bank, trust company, or other licensed entity.

Purpose Trusts

Purpose Trusts are authorized, which have purposes as objects. The trustee of a Bahamas Purpose Trust must be a bank or trust company, or licensed service provider.

Firewall Provisions

The Firewall legislation requires Bahamas law to be applied to all matters concerning Bahamas law trusts, and shields trust assets from foreign law claims arising from a personal relationship (matrimonial or community property rights) with the settlor and claims arising from heirship, and prohibits the recognition or enforcement of foreign judgements recognizing such rights.

Asset Protection

Creditors must show that dispositions of property were made with an intent to defraud, the creditor has the burden of proof, and must bring a claim within 2 years from the date of the disposition. Dispositions will be set-aside only to the extent of the obligation.

Trust Services – Switzerland

CISA Trust Company (Switzerland) SA

CISA was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1972, and provides bespoke trust services to a select international clientele. The headquarters of the CISA group is in Geneva.

Licensing and Supervision

CISA is classified as a Financial Institution under FinIA, and is subject to licensing and prudential supervision by OSIF under authority of FINMA.

Affiliated Companies

CISA has affiliated trust companies in the BVI and South Dakota, and marketing affiliates in New York and Miami.

Wealth Planning

CISA advises clients on the most appropriate types of trusts for succession, tax and asset protection planning, in conjunction with their legal and tax advisors.

Applicable Trust Law

Switzerland does not have a body of domestic trust law. As a result, CISA will designate the laws of a suitable common law trust jurisdiction, such as Bahamas, Cayman, or England and Wales, as the governing law of the trust. Switzerland ratified the Hague Convention on Trusts (1985), effective July 1, 2007, and recognizes foreign trusts.

Swiss Trust Services

CISA provides a full range of trust services in Switzerland, including reserved powers trusts, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, discretionary trusts, fixed interest trusts, etc. CISA also offers Private Trust Companies (PTCs) and Purpose Trusts to hold the shares of PTCs.

CISA is typically directed as to investments by an Investment Advisor appointed in the trust deed, and a Protector is typically appointed to exercise certain powers, including powers to appoint and remove the trustee, and the power to consent to certain trustee actions. CISA holds a wide range of assets in trust, including financial assets, real estate, operating companies, aircraft, yachts, etc.

Swiss Company Management Services

CISA provides incorporation and company management services for Swiss companies and partnerships. Switzerland has a favorable corporate regime for holding and trading companies, the Société Anonyme (SA) and the Société a Responsabilité Limitée (Sarl). In addition, Switzerland authorizes the limited partnership, Société en Commandite, which is fiscally transparent and has quasi-legal personality.

Swiss Taxation

In general, Switzerland does not consider trusts to be tax subjects as they are not legal entities. The trustee is treated as a fiduciary and is not subject to tax on the income or the trust assets, with the exception of trusts holding Swiss real estate. In respect of settlors and beneficiaries, these would not be subject to tax unless resident in Switzerland, and depending on the nature of the trust, distributions, etc. There is an established Federal and Cantonal tax regime for foreign trusts. See Tax Circulaire No. 30, Conférence Suisse des Impots, (2007).

Corporations in the Canton of Geneva are taxed at favorable rates of 6.7% plus Federal tax at 7.3%, for a total of approx. 14%. Dividends from participations (10% or more), and disposals of participations, are exempt from Cantonal and Federal tax.

Accounting Services

CISA provides book-keeping and accounting services for all trusts and entities under administration.

Double Tax Treaties (DTTs)

Swiss resident individuals and corporations benefit from Switzerland’s extensive network of Double Tax Treaties (DTTs).

International Investment Agreements (IIAs)

Swiss nationals, corporations, and partnerships benefit from Switzerland’s IIA network, which provide for international arbitration in case of expropriation or confiscation.

OECD Convention on Mutual Assistance

Switzerland is a signatory to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, which requires exchange of information “on request”, and authorizes spontaneous and automatic exchange.

Common Reporting Standard (CRS)

Switzerland is a signatory to the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) for the automatic exchange of account information. CISA is registered with the Federal Tax Administration as a Reporting Financial Institution.

FATCA

Switzerland has a Model 2 IGA with the United States for the automatic exchange of account information. CISA is registered with the IRS as a Financial Institution (FFI).

Entity Classification Services

CISA provides entity classification support for CRS and FATCA, including assistance with completion of CRS Self-Certification Forms and IRS Forms W-8BEN-E.

Switzerland Governing Laws

Constitution and Legal System

Switzerland is a federation of states composed of 26 Cantons, which exercise a high degree of autonomy from the federal government. Switzerland has a civil law legal system, derived in large part from Roman law, where laws are established in legally binding written codes.

Applicable Trust Law

Switzerland does not have a body of domestic trust law. As a result, CISA Trust will designate the laws of a suitable common law trust jurisdiction as the governing law of the trust, such as the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, or the laws of England and Wales.

Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on Trusts (1985)1 was ratified by Switzerland and entered into effect on July 1, 2007, resulting in the recognition of foreign trusts by Swiss courts. Prior to this, Swiss courts dealt with trust matters by applying a mixture of contractual, corporate, and foundation law.2 Trusts have been effectively recognized by the Swiss courts since the Harrison case in 1970.3

The Convention does not prevent the application of provisions of Swiss law the law, which cannot be derogated from by voluntary act, relating to:

  • the protection of minors and incapacitated persons;

  • the personal and proprietary effects of marriage;

  • succession rights and the indefeasible rights of spouses and relatives (forced heirship);

  • the transfer of title to property and security interests; and,

  • the protection of creditors in insolvency.

Thus, under the Convention, Swiss courts will apply the governing law of the trust, except with respect to the above matters.4 The provisions of the Convention may be disregarded by Switzerland if application would be “manifestly incompatible” with public policy.5

Licensing and Supervision

Under the new Swiss Financial Institutions Act (FinIA), trust companies are classified as Financial Institutions, and are subject to licensing and prudential supervision by OSIF (Organisme de Surveillance des Instituts Financiers) under authority of FINMA.

 

1 Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition (1985)
2 Private International Law Act (1989)
3 Harrison vs. Credit Suisse (1970)
4 Hague Convention, Article 15
5 Hague Convention, Article 18

Trust Laws of England and Wales

Constitution and Legal System

The trust laws of England and Wales are based on common law principles, where courts follow principles decided in other cases, stare decisis, which may be superseded by legislation.

Applicable Trust Laws

The trust laws of England and Wales are set-forth in the Trustee Acts of 1925 and 2000, the Recognition of Trusts Act 1987, the Insolvency Act

Trust Period

The maximum trust period is 125 years for Trusts established after April 6, 2010.

Reserved Powers

The Trustee Act of England and Wales does not provide for reserved powers trusts.

Disclosure of Information to the Beneficiaries.

English common law rules apply. Beneficiaries with vested interests, as well as discretionary beneficiaries, and objects of powers, have rights to information. under England and Wales trust law to the disclosure of information to Beneficiaries.

Private Trust Companies

Private Trust Companies (PTCs) are not provided for under England and Wales law.

Purpose Trusts

Purpose Trusts are not authorized, other than wholly charitable trusts and trusts of “imperfect obligation,” such as arrangements to maintain animals, upkeep of graves, etc.

Firewall Provisions

The England and Wales Trustee Act does not contain express firewall provisions shielding trust assets from foreign law claims arising from a personal relationship (matrimonial or community property rights) with the settlor and claims arising from heirship, or barring the recognition or enforcement of foreign judgements recognizing such rights.

Asset Protection

England and Wales law does not contain express asset protection legislation. The Fraudulent Conveyances Act, referred to as the Statute of Elizabeth, was replaced by the Insolvency Act.

Trust Laws of England and Wales

Constitution and Legal System

The trustlaws of England and Wales are based on common law principles, where courtsfollow principles decided in other cases, stare decisis, which may be superseded by legislation.

Applicable Trust Laws

The trust laws of England and Wales are set-forth in the Trustee Act 1925, Trustee Investments Act 1961, Recognition of Trusts Act 1987, Trustee Act 2000, and the Charities Act 2011.

Trust Period

The maximum trust period is 125 years for Trusts established after April 6, 2010.1 For trusts established before April 6, 2010, the trust deed may stipulate a fixed period of up to 80 years or “lives in being plus 21 years.”2

Reserved Powers

The Trustee Act of England and Wales does not provide for settlor reserved powers trusts, and it is likely that if too many powers are reserved under the trust instrument, the trust may be considered illusory.

Disclosure of Information to the Beneficiaries.

English common law rules apply under England and Wales trust law to the disclosure of information to Beneficiaries. The leading case, Schmidt v Rosewood, 3 established that a beneficiaries right to information should not turn on whether the beneficiary has a proprietary interest in the trust, and should include discretionary beneficiaries as well as objects of powers of appointment depending on a number of factors, including the nature of the beneficiary’s interest in the trust, the reasons for the request, the effect of disclosure on the other beneficiaries, etc.

Private Trust Companies

The provision of trustservicesis not a regulated activity under the laws of England and Wales, and therefore Private Trust Companies(PTCs), asthey are known in the offshore jurisdictions, are not provided for under England and Wales law.

Purpose Trusts

Trusts governed under England and Wales law must have beneficiaries to enforce the terms of the trust. Therefore, Purpose Trusts are not authorized, other than wholly charitable trusts and trusts of “imperfect obligation,” such as arrangements to maintain specific animals, for the saying of private mass or for the upkeep of graves.

Firewall Provisions

The England and Wales Trustee Act does not contain express firewall provisions shielding trust assets from foreign law claims arising from a personal relationship (matrimonial or community property rights) with the settlor and claims arising from heirship, or barring the recognition or enforcement of foreign judgements recognizing such rights. Firewall provisions are, however, found in the laws of many offshore trust jurisdictions, including the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, and Cayman.

Asset Protection

England and Wales law does not contain express asset protection legislation. The Fraudulent Conveyances Act, 4 referred to asthe Statute of Elizabeth, wasreplaced by the Law of Property Act, 5 and subsequently replaced by the Insolvency Act.6

1 The Perpetuities and Accumulations Act 2009
2 The Perpetuities and Accumulations Act 1964
3 Schmidt vs. Rosewood (2003) UKPC 26
4 13 Eliz I c. 5. (1571) 5
55 The Law of Property Act, Part IX (1925)
6The Insolvency Act, Part XVI (1986)

Trust Laws of England and Wales

Constitution and Legal System

The trustlaws of England and Wales are based on common law principles, where courtsfollow principles decided in other cases, stare decisis, which may be superseded by legislation.

Applicable Trust Laws

The trust laws of England and Wales are set-forth in the Trustee Act 1925, Trustee Investments Act 1961, Recognition of Trusts Act 1987, Trustee Act 2000, and the Charities Act 2011.

Trust Period

The maximum trust period is 125 years for Trusts established after April 6, 2010.1 For trusts established before April 6, 2010, the trust deed may stipulate a fixed period of up to 80 years or “lives in being plus 21 years.”2

Reserved Powers

The Trustee Act of England and Wales does not provide for settlor reserved powers trusts, and it is likely that if too many powers are reserved under the trust instrument, the trust may be considered illusory.

Disclosure of Information to the Beneficiaries.

English common law rules apply under England and Wales trust law to the disclosure of information to Beneficiaries. The leading case, Schmidt v Rosewood, 3 established that a beneficiaries right to information should not turn on whether the beneficiary has a proprietary interest in the trust, and should include discretionary beneficiaries as well as objects of powers of appointment depending on a number of factors, including the nature of the beneficiary’s interest in the trust, the reasons for the request, the effect of disclosure on the other beneficiaries, etc.

Private Trust Companies

The provision of trustservicesis not a regulated activity under the laws of England and Wales, and therefore Private Trust Companies(PTCs), asthey are known in the offshore jurisdictions, are not provided for under England and Wales law.

Purpose Trusts

Trusts governed under England and Wales law must have beneficiaries to enforce the terms of the trust. Therefore, Purpose Trusts are not authorized, other than wholly charitable trusts and trusts of “imperfect obligation,” such as arrangements to maintain specific animals, for the saying of private mass or for the upkeep of graves.

Firewall Provisions

The England and Wales Trustee Act does not contain express firewall provisions shielding trust assets from foreign law claims arising from a personal relationship (matrimonial or community property rights) with the settlor and claims arising from heirship, or barring the recognition or enforcement of foreign judgements recognizing such rights. Firewall provisions are, however, found in the laws of many offshore trust jurisdictions, including the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, and Cayman.

Asset Protection

England and Wales law does not contain express asset protection legislation. The Fraudulent Conveyances Act, 4 referred to asthe Statute of Elizabeth, wasreplaced by the Law of Property Act, 5 and subsequently replaced by the Insolvency Act.6

1 The Perpetuities and Accumulations Act 2009
2 The Perpetuities and Accumulations Act 1964
3 Schmidt vs. Rosewood (2003) UKPC 26
4 13 Eliz I c. 5. (1571) 5
55 The Law of Property Act, Part IX (1925)
6The Insolvency Act, Part XVI (1986)