Offshore Sector

Like many other Caribbean offshore jurisdictions St. Lucia has introduced a special International Business Company Act instead of applying one Company's Act to both offshore and onshore activities. Due to the foreseeable developments with regard to bearer shares St. Lucia has opted to allow only registered shares. Under the current regulatory climate this can almost be an advantage as opposed to issuing bearer shares. Per default International Business Companies are exempt from taxes and exchange control restrictions. As a speciality a St. Lucian IBC can elect to be exempt from tax or to be liable for a tax of 1%. In order to preserve flexibility foreign companies are allowed to re-domicile to St. Lucia and St. Lucian IBC's to may re-domicile to another jurisdiction. Although certain names are not allowed without the consent of the Minister of International Financial Services there is no restriction on the use the words "fund" and "trust" in an IBC's name. An IBC in St. Lucia requires only one shareholder and director, both of which can be corporate bodies. The government charges an annual fee of USD 300, which is in line with the annual fees of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). However, unlike BVI, St. Lucia does not increase the annual fees for share capital above USD 50'000 hereby creating a comparative advantage to the BVI.

The Trust Act, which has seen a huge improvement in the new Trust Act of 2002, provides for a modern and flexible Trust law allowing various types of trusts such as purpose, charitable, spendthrift or protective trusts

Although St. Lucia offers offshore banking licenses, the capital requirements are fairly restrictive and licenses are being issued only for banking professionals with a proven and solid track record. It is expected that there will be only very few licenses issued in the near future. Also the US Patriot Act has made it very questionable whether an offshore banking license is a sensible license to pursue

The Insurance legislation has already attracted considerable interest worldwide. It could well be that St. Lucia will become one of the few important niche players in the captive insurance and re-insurance area.

St. Lucia offers very interesting legislation for mutual funds providing a simple two-tier system for private and public funds. While public funds require licensing, a licensed fund administrator and an annual audit, private funds do not require a licensed fund manager or an audit i.e. they have to be registered but not licensed. For the increasing area of so-called Professional Funds St. Lucia expanded the class of private funds to have a minimum investment of USD 50'000 and a maximum number of a hundred investors, for the increasing area of so-called "professional funds", which compares favourably to the requirements in the BVI and comparable jurisdictions.