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 Financial Services Industry
 

Executive Summary

Regulatory Authority- Structure and Function Organizational Chart



Tracing the Development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as an International Finance Centre

Executive Summary

The financial sector in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as at February 28, 2013 is made up of the following financial institutions.

The domestic sector comprises:

  • Six (6) Banks

  • One (1) building society

  • Five (5) credit unions of which there are three major ones

  • Thirteen (13) motor and general insurance companies (4 local and 9 CARICOM) and 9 long term and life insurance companies (all CARICOM)

The international finance sector comprises:

  • Five (5) Banks

  • Two (2) International Insurance Companies

  • One (1) International Insurance broker

  • One (1) insurance manager

  • One hundred and thirty (130) Trusts

  • Approximately over seven thousand (7,000+) IBC's

  • Five hundred and sixty five (565) CTD's

  • Approximately over forty (40+) LLCs

  • Approximately over one hundred and twenty (120+) Mutual Funds - Public/Private/Accredited Managers

  • Seventeen (17) Registered Agents

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was a colony of Britain that became independent in 1979. Since then it has maintained many of the traditions of Britain, while developing its own unique Vincentian civilization. Its parliamentary system of democracy mirrors that of Westminster – as does the evolution of the two party system in St. Vincent . The legal system is that of the common law, with a common Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and the final appeal in the Downing Street Privy Council.

While the financial services sector is a prominent part of the investment development strategy of the country, tourism is the prime income earner, and agriculture generally comes in second. In 2003 the revenue from the film industry surpassed that of agriculture, with the filming of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, starring Johnny Depp.

The tourism industry thrives largely on the beauty and prime sailing destination of the Grenadine islands, as well as the hospitable and open populace. Islands like Mustique, the Tobago Cays, Bequia, Union Island, Mayreau and Canouan are musts stops for sailors.


Cenotaph, Kingstown

 

 

The island of St. Vincent has a rich cultural heritage, with historic peoples of the Ciboney, the Arawaks, Caribs, and Garifuna to name a few.

St. Vincent has a long tradition of banking and finance with Barclays Bank being the first international bank with operations here in 1837 and the first indigenous bank First St. Vincent Bank set up in 1909. Currently there are three indigenous commercial banks, as well as three other commercial domestic banks operating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines .

Swiss lawyers introduced St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the international financial services sector in 1976. Three years later the country gained independence from Britain and embarked on the process of nation building – setting up the foundations of an independent nation state. When the country was more mature it was able to take a second look at the international finance industry in 1996 and take the policy decision to move this sector into the forefront of the national economy. The international finance legislation was overhauled and a package of financial laws was introduced.

The laws provide the basis for the formation of the following entities:

  • International Banks
     

  • International Business Companies – including SCCs as well as hybrid companies
     

  • International Trusts
     

  • Mutual Funds
     

  • International Insurance Companies
     

  • Limited Liability Companies.

The international entities registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are not subject to taxation. Favorable tax laws are common also in the domestic economy, where there is no capital gains tax, no inheritance tax, no tax on dividends and corporate tax ranges from 10 – 35%. There is freedom to repatriate capital and profits up to USD100,000. Amounts exceeding that sum require approval before repatriation, which is usually given. Also there are no exchange controls on current transactions under USD100,000.

Regulated and licensed agents and trustees, known in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as Registered Agents, provide international financial services. The Financial Services Authority supervises these agents.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a small, carefully vetted and properly regulated international private banking sector. At present there are only four banks licensed to conduct international banking business. The regulatory body, the Financial Services Authority, has concentrated its efforts on ensuring that only banks with a real presence, and sound business operations and policies, operate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There are no shell banks licensed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. All banks have been and will be subject to further on-site examinations by the authorities every 12-18 months.

 The ECCB promotes and maintains the monetary stability of the single common currency (the Eastern Caribbean dollar) of the group of eight small island economies, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The ECCB is an organ of the Member governments and it has its headquarters in St. Kitts and Nevis. The highest decision making body of the Bank is the Monetary Council comprising ministers of government from the participating states.

The role and function of the ECCB includes:

  • To issue currency notes and coins in the territories of participating governments

  • Supervise and regulate (mainly) domestic banks of the member states. 

All domestic commercial banks in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are regulated by the ECCB. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as a result of substantive legislative and administrative review over the past two years, has an anti money-laundering regime that is on a par with the highest of international standards. The FATF have recognized the substantial progress made by St. Vincent and the Grenadines in this regard. The following is a list of the legislation introduced to combat money laundering and terrorist financing:

  • The International Business Companies Act Chapter 149

  • Exchange of Information Act 2008

  • Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering (Prevention) Act 2001 (Act No. 39 of 2001)

  • Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering (Prevention) Amendment Act (No. 25 of 2002)

  • Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering Regulations 2002 (S R & O No. 39 of 2002)

  • Amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering Regulations (S R & O No. 29 of 2002)

  • Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2001 (No. 38 of 2001)

  • The Financial Intelligence Unit (Amendment) Act 2001 (No. 24 of 2002)

  • International Trust (Amendment) Act (No. 27 of 2002)

  • Exchange of Information Order S R & O 2002 No. 48

  • International Banks Act 2004 (No. 40 of 2004)

  • International Banks (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (S R & O No. 31 of 2002)

  • United Nations Anti Terrorism Measures Act 2002 (No. 34 of 2002)

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The Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering (Prevention) Act (POCA) 2013, came into force on December 5th, 2013 . The POCA criminalizes the laundering of the proceeds of serious crime, deals with confiscation of assets, recovery of property and cooperation with overseas authorities. It creates an obligation to report suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit. It imposes a record keeping and recording requirement for a wide range of financial institutions and relevant businesses. The POCA also provides for the establishment of a National Anti Money Laundering Committee (NAMLC).

The Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Regulations (the Regulations) 2014 set out the record keeping and reporting requirements of regulated institutions in detail.

The Anti-Terrorist Financing and Proliferation Act 2015  came into force on August 31st, 2015 and addresses the combatting of terrorist financing and for incidental and connected purposes.


The Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2001 governs the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is primarily responsible for the receipt, analysis, investigation and dissemination of suspicious activity reports. It is also responsible for informing financial institutions of their obligations under the PCMLP. The inaugural Director of the FIU, Mrs. Sharda Bollers, held the post of Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions in the State before being tasked with the establishment of the FIU. She worked in conjunction with the Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering Programme (CALP) and the US Embassy in Barbados in the setting up of the Unit. The present Director of the FIU is Ms. Carla James, Barrister at Law and Solicitor.

In March 2003 its membership into the Egmont Group was approved. The FIU, which began operation on May 2002, has developed into a model organization, both in terms of resources and results.

Another significant area of progress that St.Vincent boasts is in the establishment of a National Anti-Money Laundering Committee (NAMLC). The NAMLC has been active in organizing educational seminars for financial institutions and the Judiciary, the Magistracy and Crown Prosecutors. As a result of the work of the NAMLC there is a very high level of awareness, in particular among the financial sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, of the obligations of the AML regime and the importance of giving effect to it.


The Regulatory Authority - Structure and Function

The Financial Services Authority was created by Parliament to institute a new system to manage, direct control and supervise the international financial services industry and domestic non-bank institutions in this country. 

Its role is clearly defined by the governing statute – The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Financial Services Authority Act, 2011. The business of The Authority is under the direction of a board of directors.

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Authority Members (Board)  

The Composition of the Board:

  • Mr. Leon Snagg - Chairman

  • Ms. Alma Dougan - Deputy Chair

  • Mr. Stewart Haynes - Actuary & Executive Director, National Insurance Services

  • Mr. Maurice Edwards - Director General, Finance and Planning

  • Mr. Hubert Dasilva - Director

  • Mrs. Karen Duncan, Senior Crown Counsel, Attorney General Chambers

  • Mrs. Sharda Sinanan-Bollers - Executive Director , FSA

  • Ms. Elritha Dick - Resident Representative, ECCB

  • Ms. Deidre Adams - Board Secretary, Budget Officer II, Finance and Planning

Management Team:

  • Mrs. Sharda Sinanan-Bollers - Executive Director

  • Mr. Augustin Powers - Deputy Executive Director

  • Ms. Dionne Harry-George - Manager, Finance and Administration

  • Ms. Karen Jackson - Manager, International Financial Services

  • Mrs. Mintrue Rose-Providence - Manager, Insurances

  • Mrs. Nyasha Browne - Manager, Credit Unions, Building Society and Money Remittances


The Authority is headed by the Executive Director who is also the Chief Executive Officer of that body. The day-to-day business of the administration and management of the Financial Services Authority, together with the supervisory duties of the Authority, fall within this portfolio.

The statutory duties of the Executive Director are outlined in The Financial Services Authority Act, The Registered Agent and Trustee Licensing Act, the International Business Companies Act, the International Banks Act, the International Trusts Act, the Mutual Funds Act, and the International Insurance Act.

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Organizational Structure of the FSA (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

 

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