Many firms claim to offer things they can't reasonably provide. Because of this, we have clients that have dealt with other firms in opening Panama corporations and bank accounts, and subsequently come to us looking for help out of a bad situation. For these clients, we offer what we like to informally call our "offshore janitorial services". To put it bluntly, we clean up other people's mess. Here is a case study that everyone in our office tells whenever we're asked to describe how offshore can go wrong:
You (Don't) Get What You Pay For
A European client whose name doesn't need to get any more public contacted us through Skype about our virtual office services. He used a fake name and an IP address that was supposedly in the US. As we chatted, he told us that he had already incorporated anonymously in Panama a few months ago with a well-known, local legal services company. The price he paid didn't shock us, but it was much more than necessary for the basic services he had obtained, and in a moment, the value of these services will seem even lower. He had originally intended to continue working with them, but apart from the fact that they didn't advertise any virtual office services on their site, they hadn't been responding to his emails lately.
When he told us the name of his Panama corporation, one of our senior partners did a routine check on the government's website. We noticed that the officers of the corporation were all under a distinctly non-Latin name, which although not uncommon, still prompted us to make sure these directors were in fact Nominees. He assured us his corporation was anonymous, and he seemed very vested in maintaining his privacy (as evidenced by his use of an alias and an IP address scrambler).
Just to make sure, we sent him the link and asked him if he recognized the name listed as the President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
We think you know where this is going. He didn't have to tell us whose name it was, because gauging his reaction, it was clear to us that he was not too happy about paying extra for nominee directors only to have his name as the President, Secretary and Treasurer of his "anonymous" corporation. In other words, his personal info was readily available for anyone with an internet connection to see on the government's Public Registry website. (Find out why this is a bad idea and how it can be avoided)
At this point, we made sure he kept his cool and didn't blow his lid off at his old firm, so we were luckily able to solve the problem by opening another corporation for him with real nominee directors. He had a 2nd useless corporation to deal with, but at least he caught it before it was too late.
But, had he exploded and attacked his lawyers for improperly opening the old corporation, things might have gone differently. This brings us to the second stage of offshore-gone wrong:
Getting It From the (Worst) Source
We remember hearing stories about the best conmen, guys that would get their angry clients storming into their office, demanding a refund, and walking out with a grin on their face and their wallet even lighter. Although we admire the technique of being able to get someone to kiss the ass that shits on them, we don't believe in it as a business model and Offshore Worldwide does everything in its power to make sure that potential clients do not get wrapped up in a web of misfortune. This is not to say that anyone who gets caught in that web is stupid or naïve; many times there is simply no other choice than to buy your way out of the problem to avoid a confrontation that could leave you even more exposed.
Such would have been the case with the European man we spoke of earlier. Had he gone back to his old firm, they would have gotten deeper into his pocket for more money to "fix the error" that they made in the first place. We will give this situation the benefit of the doubt and say it wasn't on purpose, but we have seen cases in the past where purposeful errors are passed off as "miscommunications" that then cost thousands of dollars to remedy. He's lucky he didn't go for the 1 day bank account service, because then he surely would've had no choice but to play by their rules.