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St Vincent & the Grenadines

International Financial Services

St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) operates a small but well regulated international financial services sector (IFS) comprising International Business Companies (IBCs) including Segregated Cell Companies, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), Mutual Funds, International Banks, International Insurances, International Trusts and Registered Agent and Trustees.  SVG is one of the oldest IFCs in the region, offering a wealth of experience, knowledge and professionalism since the 1970s.

The Government of SVG is committed to the country’s growth as a reputable and discreet IFC.  SVG is subject to its own legislation and regulations and this feature creates greater product value for the investor and industry legislation that is practical and business friendly.  The risks of exposure to money laundering and terrorist financing have been mitigated by strong modern legislative and administrative measures.

Key institutions that are pillars in ensuring the sound regulation of the financial services industry are the SVG Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee. The FIU is a member of the Egmont Group and has been commended by key States and organizations for its role in anti-money laundering investigations and compliance.

The international financial services (IFS) sector is comprised of the following types of financial products:

  • International Banks;
  • Mutual Funds;
  • International Business Companies (IBCs);
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLCs);
  • International Trusts;
  • International Insurance Companies and Intermediaries; and
  • Registered Agents and Trustees/Service Providers.

SVG’s products are in keeping with those internationally offered and are reviewed periodically to ensure sustainability and relevance given the dynamic global market in which they compete. There is continuous focus on updating and improving relevant legislation and keeping apprised of all international developments and best practices.

See the following for Guidelines to Large Exposures and Credit Risk Concentration for International Banks.

 The FSA offers efficient and professional service to the IFS sector. Incorporations of IBCs and formations of LLCs are completed within one business day. International Trusts registrations are completed within two to three business days. All international business transactions are conducted through the services of a ‘Registered Agent & Trustee/Service Provider’. All applications or filings relating international entities made to the Financial Services Authority must be filed by a licensed Registered Agent and Trustee in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Registered Agent & Trustee

An individual or a domestic company may apply for a Registered Agent and Trustee Licence at the Financial Services Authority (FSA).  If the intended applicant is a company, the must company must first be incorporated as a domestic company at the St. Vincent  and the Grenadines Commerce and Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), proof of the incorporation must be submitted along with the application to the FSA.

A registered agent must have a physical presence in SVG, at present we do not facilitate electronic transactions, all transactions must occur at the office of the Financial Services Authority.  Registered Agents licensed in SVG are required to pay income taxes in SVG.

A Registered agent may incorporate entities such as IBCs, LLCs, Mutual Funds etc.  the cost of these products can be found at http://svgfsa.com/fees.html. Foundations are not presently being licensed in St. Vincent.

Please see the following Links for the documents which are required to be filed when making the application for a Registered Agent and Trustee licence:

  1. The Application form

http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/application-for-registered-agent-and-trustee-license/

  1. The Personal Questionnaire (PQ) to be filled out by the Director

http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/international-fsa-personal-questionnaire-for-registered-agent-and-trustee-licence/

Please note that there are several attachments noted in the Application, PQ Forms which are required to be filed, when making the application.

 The Application, PQ Forms and attachments must be filed in duplicate.

If the company intends to operate as a financial fiduciary please see the following link for the additional disclosures for a financial fiduciary; http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/additional-disclosures-for-financial-fiduciaries/.

The application fee is US$500.00

Please note that once a complete application is received (all relevant documents are filed and the application fee is paid) the processing time for the application is 3 to 4 weeks.

International Business Companies

IBCs are incorporated within 24hrs of the receipt of the application from a licensed Registered Agent in SVG.  The Articles of Incorporation accompanied by the requisite Registration and Annual fee will suffice for the purposes of incorporation.  A Notice of Registration of Directors may also accompany the application, if the IBC chooses to register its directors.

Some additional points to note:

  • An IBC is exempt from paying taxes in SVG (but has the option of paying 1% tax).
  • Must have a Registered Agent in SVG.
  • 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).
  • An IBC may own land in SVG as long as it obtains an Alien Land Holding Licence.
  • May issue registered shares or bearer shares.
  • May have only one director and one shareholder.
  • Does not have to register directors and shareholders but this information must be kept with the Registered Agent (must maintain a Register).
  • 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.

Limited Liability Companies

LLCs are formed within 24hrs of the receipt of the application from a licensed Registered Agent in SVG.  The Articles of Formation accompanied by the requisite Registration and Annual fee will suffice for the purposes of incorporation.

Mutual Funds (Private & Public)

  1. An IBC must first be incorporated under the International Business Companies Act.
  1. An application for Registration of a Public or Private Mutual Fund must be submitted.
  1. The following link refers to the mutual fund checklist, which provides a guide on the establishment of a mutual fund in SVG: http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/fsa-mutual-fund-checklist/
  1. Personal questionnaires must be filled out by the directors.
  1. The Offering Memorandum of the Fund is expected to detail the following information:
  • Structure of the company-classes of shares
  • Investment Objectives (Investment target, investment policies, Risk analysis)
  • Description of Directors, Investment Manager, Administrator, Banker/Custodian, Auditor, Legal Advisor, Investment Advisor)
  • Investment types (e.g.: stocks, bond, derivatives etc.)
  • Risk factors (general and specific risks)
  • Fees, compensation, expenses
  • Net Asset Value
  • Taxation
  • Subscriptions
  • Redemptions
  • Material contracts
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Anti-money laundering
  • Rights of shareholders
  1. Other documents to be filed with the Application:
  • Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws for the International Business Company (IBC) or Segregated Cell Company (SCC);
  • Application to register the Mutual Fund /Mutual Fund Manager/ Fund Administrator,;
  • Offering Memorandum for the Mutual Fund;
  • Business Plan/ Projected Income;
    • If the shareholder is a Company, two (2) previous years audited financial statements;
    • A character reference letter for each Director and Shareholder;
    • A bank reference for each Director and Shareholder;
    • A Personal Questionnaire for each Director and Shareholder;
    • Curriculum Vitae for each Director and Shareholder;
    • Certified true copies of certificates for professional qualifications for each Director and Shareholder;
    • Recent Police Records for each Director/Shareholder;
    • Letters of acceptance from legal advisor and auditor;
    • Consent to act as Director from each Director;
    • Fund Management Agreement, Administrative Service Agreement and Custodian Agreement with the Mutual Fund;
    • Due Diligence Fee; and
    • Application Fee (non-refundable).

The application process will take 4 weeks, provided that all relevant documents are submitted at the time the application is made.

SCC Mutual Funds

An application must be submitted by a licensed Registered Agent and Trustee in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. See the following link to the list of licensed Registered Agent and Trustees: http://svgfsa.com/service_prov.html.

  1. In order to form a SCC Public Mutual Fund, an SCC must first be incorporated under the International Business Companies Act.
  1. An application for Registration of a Public Mutual Fund must be submitted, which can be found on page 20 of the Mutual Funds Regulation, which can be found at the following link:  http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/application-for-registration-of-a-public-mutual-fund/
  1. The following link refers to the mutual fund checklist, which provides a guide on the establishment of a mutual fund in SVG: http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/fsa-mutual-fund-checklist/

The Offering Memorandum is expected to detail the following information:

  • Structure of the company-classes of shares
  • Investment Objectives (Investment target, investment policies, Risk analysis)
  • Description of Directors, Investment Manager, Administrator, Banker/Custodian, Auditor, Legal Advisor, Investment Advisor)
  • Investment types (e.g.: stocks, bond, derivatives etc.)
  • Risk factors (general and specific risks)
  • Fees, compensation, expenses
  • Net Asset Value
  • Taxation
  • Subscriptions
  • Redemptions
  • Material contracts
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Anti-money laundering
  • Rights of shareholders

 The application process will take 4 weeks, provided that all relevant documents are submitted at the time the application is made.

International Banking Licence

To obtain an international banking license from the Financial Services Authority, the company has to ensure that its operations can adequately be defined as banking business. Banking business according to the International Banks Act, Chapter 99 of the Revised Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 2009 is described as:

  1. the business of receiving funds through
  • the acceptance of monetary deposits that are repayable on demand or after notice or any similar operation,
  • the sale or placement of bonds, certificates, notes or other securities and the use of them, either in whole or in part, for loans or investment for the risk of the customer; and
  1. any other activity recognised by the Central Bank or the Authority as customary banking practice and which a financial institution may additionally be authorised to do.

A company must first obtain a license from the Financial Services Authority before it engages in banking business. The two classes of international banks which are licensed by the FSA are Class A international banks with capital requirements of US$1M and a statutory deposit of US$500,000 and Class B international bank with capital requirements of US$0.5M and a statutory deposit of US$100,000.

Additional information and the International Banks Act may be found on our website at the following links:

http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/international-banks-act/

http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/international-banking-application-checklist/  

http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/application-for-an-international-banking-licence/

http://dev.svgfsa.com/mdocs-posts/fsa-personal-questionnaire-for-international-banking-license-application/ 

Please note that a Class B international banking license when issued requires the licensee to maintain a fully paid-up capital of US$500,000 or its equivalent in another currency. Additionally, the licensee must deposit or invest US$100,000 in a manner which the Financial Services Authority (FSA) reasonably prescribes. Please also note that the business activity of a Class B international bank is restricted to those persons mentioned in its initial application to the FSA. Any new clients which the Bank obtains subsequent to licensing must be approved by the FSA.

In addition to the above requirements, all international banks are required to have a physical place of business in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, a minimum of two employees and a registered agent in accordance with Section 8 of the International Banks Act, Chapter 99 of the Revised Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Additional information on establishing a Class B bank may be found on our website www.svgfsa.com

International banks are precluded from conducting banking business with residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, from investing in any asset that represents a claim on any resident, and from buying bonds or other securities issued by the State. In order to obtain a licence, they must establish a physical presence in the country, have at least two local employees (one at senior management level), and have at least two directors approved by the FSA, one of which must be a resident of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There are two kinds of licence: class A imposes no restrictions on the international bank’s offshore business activities; class B allows the international bank to conduct business only with non-resident persons specifically named in an undertaking accompanying the licence application. All international banks are subject to onsite inspections at least once every 12-18 months.

Some additional points to note:

 CLASS A

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

 

International Insurance Companies

The flexibility of the insurance regime means that companies of varying sizes may undertake a diverse range of activities.  The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines International Insurance Act permits five (5) classes of international insurance companies, namely:

  • Class I- Unrestricted

Insurers can carry on any international insurance business, including long term insurance.

  • 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 affiliate.

  • Class IV – Group

Insurers can carry on general and/or long term international insurance business with one owner, its affiliates and employees.

  • Class V- Single

Insurers may carry on international insurance business with the sole owner of the insurer, in the case of a company, or with the beneficial owners of the insurer, in the case of a trust.

The Capital requirements vary by class with higher requirements for higher risk firms.

What about applications to be int’l insurance brokers, managers?

 The Application processing time is between 4 – 6 weeks to facilitate the undertaking of due diligence checks and analyses

 

International Trust

The Application must be accompanied by the Trust Deed or Deed of Settlement.   The Registered Agent is expected to retain due diligence information on all the relevant parties to the trust in the event that such information is required.  The application process takes up to one week.