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Banking in US for an International business
January 30, 2013 6:29 AM   Subscribe

My friend is Italian and living in Milan. He has developed a product that he will sell through Amazon. I want to help and get involved but not willing to risk my future to do it.

He has asked me to be his US representative to receive shipments, ship to Amazon distribution centers and open a bank account for the business.
What would be my liability around the bank account? My brother has done internatonal business and advised not to sign anything (lease, bank etc) unless I was willing to be part of the company and take the risk that involves.

I am not willing to put my finances on the line for my friend. I would love to do this because I find it exciting, I want to help my friend and lastly I may make some money. But if it involves financial risk I am out.

Any advise or experience on this?
posted by shaarog to Work & Money (5 answers total)
 
I would speak with an attorney who is familiar with this kind of business arrangement. Most (all?) banks in the United States will require a permanent address located in the United States in order for a company to open an account. So that's presumably where you would fit in to your friend's business, at least at first.

Whether you assume liability for that account or the actions of the business is another question entirely. I'd assume the answer to that depends, in part, on the legal structure of the business and your ownership stake, if any, in the business.

But the bottom line here is that speaking with an attorney is the best way for you to get a solid answer to your questions about personal liability.
posted by dfriedman at 6:41 AM on January 30, 2013


Agreed about speaking to a lawyer. In my very limited experience, you may need to incorporate as an LLC yourself and work as a contractor for your friend's company. This may be an easier/harder experience depending on your location. A lawyer will advise best, and may I strongly urge that you have your friend pay for the consultation?
posted by stoneweaver at 6:43 AM on January 30, 2013


LAWYER.

You will be importing goods into the US. If you do this, it needs to be done correctly. Which means LAWYER.
posted by lydhre at 6:57 AM on January 30, 2013


Looks like I have my answer. That is the same advice I got from my brother so off I go to find a good lawyer who does international stuff. Thanks!
posted by shaarog at 7:14 AM on January 30, 2013


Amazon now has an Italian site. Your friend should talk with an .it account manager about entering into the world-wide Amazon system as an Italian vendor.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:01 AM on January 30, 2013


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