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International Trusts  International Insurance Companies Mutual Funds International Banking


International Business Companies IBCs


New International Business Companies Act 2007 and New International Business Companies Regulations 2008 are located in Laws and Regulations.


Kingstown Harbour

Important facts on St. Vincent and the Grenadines IBCs

  1. An IBC can be used for many purposes for example:

    (i)    International trading, investment activities.

    (ii)   Used by professionals for asset protection

    (iii) 
    Buying and selling goods and services.


    (iv) 
    To hold bank accounts and operate businesses.

     
    (v)
       For ownership of intellectual property, licensing and franchising.

    (vi) 
    Internet business (business websites).


     

  2. Does not do any kind of business with residents of SVG
     

  3. An IBC is exempt from paying taxes in SVG (but has the option of paying 1% tax). 
     

  4. Must have a Registered Agent in SVG.  
     

  5. Cannot carry on any activity for which it requires a licence granted by the Authority, unless such a  licence has been granted. (eg: Mutual Funds business, International Banking Business, International Insurance business).  
     

  6. An IBC may own land in SVG as long as it obtains an Alien Land Holding Licence.  
     

  7. May issue registered shares or bearer shares.  
     

  8. May have only one director and one shareholder. 
     

  9. Does not have to register directors and shareholders but this information must be kept with the Registered Agent (must maintain a Register).
     

  10. Shareholders, directors and officers may reside anywhere in the world and their meetings may be held wherever they decide. There is no residency or nationality requirement for shareholders, directors and/or officers of a SVG IBC.


LEGAL SYSTEM

The legal system of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is similar in most respects to that of the United Kingdom. Our court of final appeal is Her Majesty’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, England.

The lower courts are the Magisterial District courts that exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction up to a certain limit.

There is also a separate court called the Family Court that is presided over by a President and deals exclusively with family related matters.

The primary court of first instance is the High Court of Justice, from which appeal is made to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal. Both derive their jurisdiction form the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Act.

Puisne Judges preside over civil and criminal matters at the High Court. There presently three such judges in our jurisdiction.

Appeals are heard by a panel of three judges and are presided over by the Chief of Justice or President of the Court of Appeal and the Justices of Appeal.

Our basic law is English law.

However, we have developed our own body of statutory laws, particularly in the area of international finance.
The lawyers in the Eastern Caribbean are competent to practice freely in any Eastern Caribbean State, and in certain other states, including Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana and Belize.

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International Trusts

Important facts on St. Vincent and the Grenadines Trusts

  1. Trust deeds are registered in a confidential government Trust Registry, whereupon an official Certificate of ‘Registration is issued to the Settler/Grantor.   
     

  2. A duly registered trust will not be rendered unenforceable because it was invalid under the laws of the Settler/Grantor’s domicile or residence.  Thus, forced heirship law and community property regimes can be avoided.  
     

  3. The traditional rule against perpetuities and the rule against accumulations are modifies and clarified. 
     

  4. Purpose trusts, which are created for a specific purpose but without named beneficiaries, are allowed and statutorily prescribed.  
     

  5. The role and duties of protectors are specifically set out and clarified to account for recent case law. 
     

  6. Choice-of-law and conflicts-of-laws issues are anticipated and resolved in favor of the provisions of the International Trust Act.  
     

  7. A foreign (non-Vincentian) judgment against a registered International Trust (or its settler or beneficiaries) is not enforceable in Saint Vincent if the judgment was based on law inconsistent with the International Trust Act, 1996.  
     

  8. Actions against registered international trusts must be commenced within two years from date of creation of the trust. 
     

  9. A complaining creditor may satisfy his claim against the property of a registered international trust only if that creditor can show both that the settlor/grantor’s principal interest in creating the trust was to defraud him, that the disposition of property to the trust rendered the settler/grantor insolvent.  
     

  10. Traditional fraudulent conveyance laws (Statute of Elizabeth) are not applicable to registered international trust. 
     

  11. The bankruptcy or insolvency of the settler/grantor under the laws of his residence or domicile will not affect a registered international trust.  
     

  12. An international trust may own one or more Saint Vincent International Business Companies.    
     

  13. Registered trustees fall within the definition of ‘financial institutions’ of the Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering Prevention Act 2001 and are thereby subject to its anti money laundering requirements.

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International Insurance Companies


Important facts on St. Vincent and the Grenadines International Insurance Sector
 

The International Insurance sector has been identified as an excellent growth area. The present insurance regime offers a great deal of flexibility to insurers wishing to conduct international insurance business.

 

The sector is regulated by the International Insurance (Amendment and Consolidation) Act 1998 which came into effect on December 15, 1998 and, the International Insurance Regulations gazetted on June 22, 1999 . Together these legislations set the legal framework for the high quality of regulatory and administrative processes necessary to foster and maintain market participation, transparency and confidence.

 

Under the new regime insurers have a choice of five classes of international insurance companies. This flexibility is designed to accommodate both the largest and the smallest insurance enterprises and allows for a diverse range of activity:

 

Class I – unrestricted- insurers can carry on any international insurance business, including long term;

 

Class II – General- Insurers can carry on general but not long-term international insurance business;

 

Class III – Association- insurers can carry on general and long-term international insurance business with two or more owners of the insurer and/or their affiliates, and up to 30% of business with persons who are not owners of the insurer or their affiliates;

 

Class IV – Group- insurer can carry on general and/or long term international insurance business with one owner, its affiliates, and employees;

 

Class V – Single- insurer may carry on any international insurance business, with the sole owner of the insurer, if a company, or with the beneficial owners of the insurer, if a trust.

 

There are individual capital requirements for each class; higher requirements for higher risk firms. At the application stage, the firms themselves are allowed to state a class of business and to make their own specific assessment of the overall level of financial resources they would need to meet their liability.

Every single form that needs to be filed at the application stage and during the life of the licensee is exhibited in the Regulations along with all the relevant fees. This clearly allows for the simplification of the application process and further enhances the administrative process during the life of the licensed entity.

 


Mutual Funds

 

Important facts on St. Vincent and the Grenadines Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are regulated by the Mutual Funds Act, 1997 as amended by the Mutual Funds (Amendment) Act 1998, with Regulations issued in 1999. The Act provides for the licensing of both domestic and international mutual funds. There are essentially two categories of fund licenses, namely a private and accredited fund license and a public fund license.

 

The legal structure that can form the basis of a St. Vincent mutual fund includes an incorporated company, a partnership or a unit trust. It can include an umbrella type fund. Open ended, closed ended and integral funds are allowed.

 

A Public Fund means a mutual fund, which offers any shares, it issues for subscription or purchase to any interested member of the general public. All public funds registered must publish a prospectus and file it with the Financial Services Authority. There are no capital adequacy requirements or minimum subscription limits placed on public funds. Also they must maintain accounting records and financial statements. Public funds that intend to do business with residents must also submit an offering document synopsis to the Financial Services Authority.

 

Private and accredited funds is the other category of license recognized by this Act. A private or accredited fund is a mutual fund that either has no more than fifty investors or issues shares on a private basis. An accredited fund issues shares only to accredited investors, with an initial investment of not less than USD 25,000. An accredited investor is one who has a net worth in excess of USD one million.

All applications to carry on business, as a Public Fund or Private Fund must be submitted to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Financial Services Authority to the attention of the Registrar of Mutual Funds.

 

Insofar as administrators and managers are concerned, they are required to apply to the Authority for a license to carry on business as administrators or managers. The Act provides that a natural person, any mutual fund, company, trusts or trustee may apply for a license to carry on business as administrators or managers. Applicants must show evidence that they have or have available to them expertise and resources necessary to carry out the business proposed. The applicant must meet standard fit and proper requirements.

 

The competence and character of managers and administrators is seen as paramount to the efficient operation of the Mutual Fund and the integrity of the jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Authority requires that only fit and proper persons may be issued licenses to carry on business as managers and administrators.

 

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International Banks


Important facts on St. Vincent and the Grenadines International Banking Sector
 

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has always provided a sound economic climate for international banks. There are presently some five  international banks licensed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

The International Banks Act of 2004 and Regulations govern the registration of international banks.

 

All banks are subject to onsite inspections at least every 12 – 18 months.

 

The Financial Services Authority's Executive Director, Mrs. Sharda Sinanan-Bollers has direct responsibility for banks.

 

The Authority grants two Classes of International Banking Licence:

  1. Class A International Banking Licence

  2. Class B International Banking Licence

All International banks applying for a licence to operate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines must submit a completed application (in duplicate) along with the prescribed fee to the Financial Services Authority.  All applicants are required to complete a ‘fit and proper’ questionnaire. The following requirements apply to all banks that are issued with a license to operate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines:

  1. They must establish a physical presence in the island.
     

  2. They must have local employees.
     

  3. There must be at least one (1) local Director approved by the Financial Services Authority.

The following condition also applies specifically to the different classes of International Banks.

 

CLASS A

  1. Non-refundable application fee of US$1,000.00
     

  2. Each Class A bank must establish and maintain a capital fund with fully paid-up capital of not less than one million US dollars (US$1,000,000.00) or its equivalent in another currency
     

  3. Class A banks are required to hold a deposit or invest the sum of five hundred thousand US dollars (US$500,000.00) or its equivalent in another currency, in such a manner as the Authority may prescribe.  
     

  4. Designate and notify the Authority by name a registered agent, which is not an official of the bank, to act as its registered agent in the state.
     

  5. Class A license fees US$10,000.00
     

  6. Class A annual renewal Fees US$10,000.00


CLASS B

  1. Non-refundable application fee of US$1,000.00
     

  2. Each Class B bank must establish and maintain a Capital fund with fully paid-up capital of five hundred thousand United States dollars (US$500,000.00) or its equivalent in another currency
     

  3. Class B banks are required to hold a deposit or invest the sum of one hundred thousand United States dollars (US$100,000.00) or its equivalent in another currency in such a manner as the Authority may prescribed
     

  4. Designate and notify the Authority by name a registered agent, which is not an official of the bank, to act as its registered agent in the state.
     

  5. Class B license fees US$10,000.00
     

  6. Class B annual renewal fees US$5,000.00                                                                             

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