Saint Kitts: Offshore Business Sectors
Saint Kitts has made steady progress in developing its financial services sector since securing its removal from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) blacklists in 2002, but has had to develop new legislation and financial products to ensure that it stayed off the list.
Nevis emerged as an offshore jurisdiction after enacting its Nevis Business Corporation Ordinance in 1984, based upon American corporate law of the state of Delaware. Under the Constitution adopted when St.Kitts and Nevis became fully independent in 1983, Nevis has its own Legislative Assembly which swiftly took advantage of its autonomous powers to pass the Ordinance, which was followed by Trust, LLC and Mutual Fund legislation.
Although Saint Kitts has aimed primarily at attracting industrial and tourist investment with very tax-friendly incentive legislation, Nevis's achievements in attracting offshore companies inspired St.Kitts to establish its own offshore regime in 1996 with a new Companies Act and Trusts Act. Still, Saint Kitts continues to hope that by concentrating on industrial investment it will develop a less competitive and consequently more harmonious relationship with Nevis.
In an attempt to broaden the Federation's attractions, the Saint Kitts government introduced two new pieces of legislation in 2002: the Merchant Shipping Act and the Foundation Act (2003). The new Merchant Shipping Act makes provisions for the registration of ships and pleasure vessels in Saint Kitts. Statistics for 2011 showed that a total of 710 vessels were registered with a total deadweight of over 1,400,000 tonnes.
The Foundation Act provides for the formation of private Foundations. The Foundation Act is expected to enhance the attractiveness of Saint Kitts as an international financial center through the introduction of a civil law concept into the traditionally common-law system.
All offshore finance businesses in the Federation need authorisation under the Financial Services (Regulations) Order, 1997. This includes deposit-taking business, investment business, insurance business, trust business and corporate service provision.
The Nevis Multiform Foundations Ordinance came into force on October 1st 2005. It introduces a flexible hybrid multiform of foundation into the Nevis international financial services regime.