Antonio Ghaleb is accredited in Qatar and holding the auditor’s registration number 348. Also he is a member of the following institutions: a) American Institution of Certified Public Accountant (AICPA), b) Guam Board of Accountancy, c) Certified in Risk Management Assurance “CRMA”, d) Chartered Global Management Accountant designation “CGMA”, and e) International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
Global accounting and advisory network HLB has admitted a new member firm in Qatar: Antonio Ghaleb & Partner CPA.
Adding to its extensive coverage right across the Middle East, global accounting and advisory network HLB has appointed Antonio Ghaleb & Partner CPA of Qatar as its latest member firm. Operating out of Lusail City north of Doha, Antonio Ghaleb & Partner was established in 2017 and provides audit & assurance, business advisory, tax, corporate governance, and HR services among its offerings.
“The strategy for joining HLB was not only to grow our business in the marketplace, but to align with a network that shares our core values and where we can offer our expertise. We believe that through persistence and determination we will grow and reach new milestones. The journey has started with HLB, as together we can make anything happen.” said founder and Managing Partner Antonio Ghaleb.
Earning an MBA in auditing in 2012, Ghaleb prior to establishing the business spent six years as an audit and risk manager with Mazars, before which he served for two years as a senior auditor with Jeffreys Henrys (Assad Haddad & Partners) in Beirut. “Antonio Ghaleb & Partner CPA will make a great addition to our global coverage and will be a great addition to our Middle East network,” HLB stated.
The addition of Antonio Ghaleb & Partner CPA – HLB’s sole current member firm in Qatar – comes on the back of the network this month celebrating its 50th anniversary. Formed in 1969 (as Hodgson Landau Brands, based on the names of former early members), HLB International, as it was rebranded in 1990, has since expanded its footprint to almost 750 offices in more than 150 countries worldwide.
With collective revenues now exceeding $2.7 billion – growing by over 60 percent since 2013 and on track to eclipse its target of $3 billion by 2020 – HLB is the world’s 12th largest network of its kind, chasing the likes of Baker Tilly and Nexia on the mid-tier table. To underscore its growth, last year the firm unveiled fresh corporate branding, including a new logo, tagline, website and overall look.
“We live in a time where everyone – our clients, our people and our members – are always online, said HLB CEO Marco Donzelli at the time. “This new brand represents our identity, our values and our aims, and allows us to communicate more naturally in the digital space… I look forward to seeing the new brand adopted across the network as we prepare for our 50th anniversary next year.”
Celebrating that milestone on the 7th of June, the network held its first ever global Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, #HLBCommunities Day, with 1,320 participants contributing nearly 8,500 volunteer hours to 42 community projects worldwide, including volunteering with the elderly and at food banks, supporting after school programmes, and helping with outdoor public maintenance.
Dr. Antonio Ghaleb
AG & Partner CPA
Dr. Antonio Ghaleb has more than 15 years of extensive audit, accounting, tax finance, management, and risk management experience gained from the leading audit and tax consultancy firms in the world. He earned a doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from a reputable and accredited university in the USA. He is a member of the American Institution of Certified Public Accountant (AICPA) and the Guam Board of Accountancy. He is also certified in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) and is a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).
He established his Qatar-accredited audit firm, in 2017 and is specialised in audit, tax, and business advisory services.
+974 4497 9530
# QUESTION ONE
What are the most common structures used when international clients want to form a company in your jurisdiction? Any examples?
The legal structures according to the Qatari Commercial Law are the following:
- Joint Liability Company
- Limited Partnership
- Joint Venture Company
- Public Shareholding Company
- Private Shareholding Company
- Partnership Limited by Shares
- Limited Liability Company
# QUESTION TWO
The most common legal structures that foreign entities or natural persons may establish in Qatar, are the Limited Liability Company and a branch of a foreign entity. The process of establishing a branch is subject to the new investment law 1/2019, in which a foreign entity (legal person) may own the branch, whereas a foreign natural person can only own up to 49 per cent of the capital of a Limited Liability Company.
Please detail some of the favourable and unfavourable legislation that businesses considering establishing a presence in your jurisdiction should be aware of? How can you help them to streamline the process?
Qatar has proved its strong economy, by continuing its business activities independently, maintaining one of the highest GDP growth rates in the region, and also maintaining its title as one of the countries with the highest GDP per capita in the world.
We have to differentiate between international entities that come to Qatar to carry out activities connected to government or semi-government projects. These companies can set up a 100 per cent branch owned by their parent companies, which are located and registered abroad, by getting special approval from the Ministry of Economy and Industry in Qatar.
The advantage of setting up a branch 100 per cent owned by a foreign entity, is to ensure that the foreign entity controls the management entirely and has a significant influence in any decision during the board meeting. Hence, the foreign entity controls the management in Qatar and can take any decision at its sole discretion in any investment or organisational change, without getting back to any local partner. However, the disadvantage of doing this, is the corporate tax in which the General and Tax Authority (GTA) levies the tax on the profit the branch generates in Qatar on the basis of 10 per cent from the net profit. The foreign entity can appoint a manager or director to manage the branch, and the director will assume any responsibility in the event of any gross negligence. The director will run the daily business and he/she will have a full authority to sign any document in any private or public entity.
There are also certain benefits investors can get from the government, to invest in Qatar and obtain a share of more than 49 per cent. This process will be clarified in details in the Executive Regulation, which is not yet issued. However, foreign investors cannot invest in banks, insurance companies, commercial agencies, or any sector not approved by the Ministry of Economy and Industry.
Foreign entities, which come to Qatar to establish a limited liability company, are obliged to share a percentage that is not more than 49 per cent of the capital amount. They can increase their profit share up to 97 per cent in the Articles of Association (AOA). The advantage of increasing the profit share to 97 per cent, is to ensure a significant control in any managerial decision, and accordingly, the role of the local partner will be merely passive and has a protective right to sign and not a substantive right.
These foreign entities establish limited liability companies, because they do not have a project with the government or semi-government and therefore the requirements of setting up a branch are not met. If the company generates income, then the General and Tax Authority (GTA) levies the tax on the profit share stated in the AOA. the local partner is entitled to the profit stated in the AOA and will assume the same loss in case the company incurs losses.
Every company, regardless of its legal structure (branch, LLC, partnership), is required to register at the General Tax Authority and obtain a Tax Card. There is a new income tax law 24/2018, which has been published officially in the official gazette in December 2018. The GTA has changed substantially the articles related to the delay penalties, and other requirements that follow the preparation process of file the tax return. Although the companies can apply the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), however, some adjustments require the companies to adjust in the tax return. All companies should meet the deadline of submitting the tax return and audited financial statements according to the Income Tax Law, and any violation of the rules will impose a significant amount of penalties. Further, the GTA has substantiated in the income tax law on the transparency and objectivity of the daily transactions and the process of submitting the tax return; any process that leads to tax evasion imposes the taxpayer to significant penalties and imprisonment.
# QUESTION THREE
What due diligence is required to be undertaken by company formations agents under anti-money laundering laws in your jurisdiction?
Law No 4 of 2010 Promulgating the Law of Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing obliges reporting entities such as financial institutions, independent legal professionals such as auditors, lawyers to report any suspicious transaction they may detect during their review of any business transaction. Further, the central bank is conducting regular ongoing off-site surveillance and on-site inspection of all financial institutions regulated and controlled by the Qatar Central Bank to ensure that all financial institutions comply with the AML/CFT legal requirements. Auditors should report to the financial information unit any suspicious transaction detected during audit, in which this process is in alignment with the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) and International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants by International Ethics Standards Board (IESBA).
On the 9th of September 2018, Qatar published new country-by-country reporting (CbCR) requirements in the Official Gazette. Qatar Tax resident firms, which are members of multinational groups that have annual consolidated revenues that exceed QAR 3 billion (approximately USD822 million), are required to comply with the CbCR report filing requirements in Qatar for fiscal years commencing on or after 1 January 2017.
AG & partner CPA was founded and registered by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in Qatar under Commercial Registration number 103317.
The firm is specialised in auditing, accounting, tax, and business advisory services; which include financial consultancy services, budgeting, forecasting, and planning, internal audits, due diligence assignments, business restructuring, accounting systems and accounting treatment of the complex transactions.
Additionally, the firm assists in company establishment, credit facility reviews and liquidation services. All work complies with the International Standards of Auditing (ISA), code of ethics and objectivity, and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
The practice works firmly with clients to help them optimise tax legally, in compliance with current rules and regulations.
Doing business in Qatar
Foreign investors can transfer dividends to their home country without paying any tax. There is no restriction nor threshold to the amount that will be transferred from Qatar to any other country.
All expatriates’ salaries are exempted from any individual tax in which this gives investors another incentive to consider Qatar as an investment destination.
Qatar has no sales tax or value-added tax, which attracts foreign investors to build up manufacturing or trading capacities for local market consumption or exportation with minimal taxation. The government is encouraging potential investors to build up factories that add value to the economy. Dependent on conditions and government requirements, such as feasibility studies and other capital requirements, the same factories will get an exemption from the government to pay corporate tax, and customs duty.
The government has also started a new vehicle, which is a free zone area. Qatar Economic Zone (QEZ), enables potential investors to establish foreign entities owned 100 per cent by foreign investors.
The law number 25 of the year 2018 stipulates in details the Excise Tax and the taxable persons or firms, who must register and file the tax return along with the penalties and tax assessment. Excise Tax is a new law, which came into force by the 1st of January 2019 oblige any taxable person or firm to file a quarterly tax return each 15 day that follows the taxable quarter. Excise Tax is a single-phased tax, levied once at import or at production stage within the state of Qatar.
The final consumers bear the excise tax; however, the tax is levied earlier throughout the supply chain business by the importers, manufacturers or tax warehouse keepers, which are required to register to submit periodical returns, pay the Excise Tax due to the General Tax Authority and maintain Excise Tax-specific records. There are certain conditions in which the chairman of General Tax Authority may exempt the importers from the excise tax, but this process is entirely related to his or her discretion.
Goods subject to Excise Tax in the State of Qatar and the applicable tax rates are as follows:
- Tobacco and tobacco derivatives – 100%;
- Carbonated drinks – 50%;
- Energy drinks – 100%;
- Special purpose goods– 100%.
Excise Tax is calculated as a percentage of the Excise Tax value of the goods. The Excise Tax value of the goods (i.e. the ‘tax base’) shall be the higher of:
- The standard price as listed in a Ministerial Decision, or a minimum value as listed in a schedule issued by the GTA on its website; or
- The retail sales price (RSP) declared by the producer or importer or warehouse keeper of such Excise goods after deducting any Excise Tax amount included in that price.
In order to deduct the Excise Tax included in the retail sales price (if any), the following should be applied:
- For Excise goods subject to 50% - multiply the RSP by 66.67%;
- For Excise goods subject to 100% - multiply the RSP by 50%.
To read more about the guide of Excise Tax; you can check the following linkhttp://www.customs.gov.qa/eng/EX_Tax.php
Consolidated financial statements as per IFRS 10; how to assess control between an investor and investee and when the investee is considered a subsidiary?
Consolidated financial statement is a hot topic for the companies that own subsidiaries. Assessing the level of control entity A has over entity B enables us to decide whether entity B is a subsidiary or merely associate under IAS 28, financial instrument under IAS 39 or IFRS 9, joint arrangement under IFRS 11, or by other applicable IFRSs.
Control is not based solely on legal ownership or legal structure. IFRS 10 explains that,
an investor controls an investee when it is exposed, or has rights, to variable returns from its involvement with the investee and has the ability to affect those returns through its power over the investee.
Our accounting firm provides also bookkeeping and accounting services to the companies. Most of the companies are looking nowadays to reduce the overhead expenses and use this process as a new strategy to sustain in business and ensure profitability. Our audit firm is reputable, and its team has enough and sufficient experience to meet the client expectation. Our reputable audit firm arranges with the relevant companies to receive all the transactions, and relevant supporting documents and does the bookkeeping as per the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
Financial statements users rely on the auditor’s report to take an economic decision. Therefore, our reputable audit firm ensures that our external audit is being performed by the International Auditing Standards (ISA) guide. The purpose of the ISA guide is to provide practical guidance to practitioners conducting audit engagements for small- and medium-sized entities (SMEs). An internal audit plays a vital role in the companies to ensure that the internal control system is effective and report weaknesses to the top management. Internal auditing plays a significant role in protecting the company, and the management helps and guides the employees to apply the internal policies and procedures effectively.
Business leaders that deal with long-term contracting projects face unique financial reporting issues related to the accurate reporting of revenue. International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) require reporting revenue based upon the percent of completion of a project as of the last day of the reporting year (International Financial Reporting Standards [IFRS], 2015a). The IFRS accounting standards require management to assess project budget that is material to the financial statement results. Without appropriate internal controls, these estimates are susceptible to manipulation by the management.
When the Tax season starts at Qatar most of the companies become significantly busy in preparing the financial statements and relevant supporting documents for the auditor’s review.
Also, along with the financial statements, every company must arrange its books to comply with the Tax law in Qatar and submit Tax return or Tax declaration to the Tax department accordingly.
Most of the companies must be cautious while dealing with Foreign Service Providers, which are not registered in Qatar. Companies must deduct withholding Tax 5 or 7% depending on the type of activity the Service Provider performs at Qatar. Withholding Tax is applicable only on the services performed by the Service Providers to the companies; however, materials are not subject to withholding Tax. Further, any service executed offshore (outside Qatar) is not subject to withholding Tax except royalties or any activity that gives the right to use a name, trademark etcetera. Withholding tax is applicable to service executed onshore (inside Qatar).