Turks and Caicos: Country and Foreign Investment
The depth of the professional infrastructure servicing the financial services industry is impressive. A wealth of talented Canadian and English barristers are present in addition to lawyers licensed in Hong Kong, USA, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. A number of major accountancy firms also have a presence. Telecommunications are excellent.
Under the Business Licensing Ordinance 1983 all Turks and Caicos businesses, whether incorporated or not, require licenses. License fees vary quite widely according to the circumstances, and range from US$300 for agriculture and apartment rental not exceeding four units, to as high as US$13,500 per annum for hotel accommodation with 100 bedrooms or more. Fee levels had not been increased for some years and were raised by 35% to the current level from April, 2011.
An individual who wishes to work on his own account and who does not have a Permanent Residence Certificate must in addition to obtaining an annual work permit obtain a business licence under the Business Licensing Ordinance. Business licences will usually be granted to individuals who demonstrate the necessary qualifications and credentials provided that the business concerned is not in a category restricted to the indigenous population. Examples of restricted business sectors include accountancy, apartment rentals and management, real estate agency, architecture and contracting, among other categories. Business licences are normally indefinite in duration.
Banking confidentiality and secrecy are governed by the Confidential Relationships Ordinance 1979 which provides for penalties and terms of imprisonment for professionals, including government officials, who make unauthorised disclosure of confidential information. The Companies Ordinance 1981 contains similar provisions in relation to exempted companies. Additionally the common law also imposes civil liability for breaches of professional privilege.
The duty to maintain confidentiality does not apply where it conflicts with the provisions of the Mutual Legal Assistance (USA) Ordinance 1991 which was passed to give effect to the treaty made between the United States and the United Kingdom to give assistance in criminal matters. However, this treaty does not extend to fiscal crime; the Islands have not entered into any double taxation treaties and there is therefore no scope for the local authorities to co-operate with requests by foreign investigators for assistance in investigating tax evasion.