Requirements for Establishing an Offshore Bank in Belize
Contributed by Luigi Wewege At Caye International Bank
23 April, 2021
Offshore banks provide many benefits to those looking for alternatives to traditional institutions. Belize offers some of the most attractive offshore account and investment options and advantages. So how are the private banks that provide account options to offshore clients established?
Here is an overview of some of the main requirements and steps to be taken to set up a Belize private bank.
Financial Laws and Regulations Within Belize
The Central Bank of Belize, established in 1982, regulates the Belize financial system and maintains monetary stability. The Banks and Financial Institutions Act of 1995 and the Offshore Banking Act of 1996 established the processes necessary for creating and operating an offshore bank in Belize that complies with all requirements and laws monitored by the Central Bank.
These Acts form the basis for owning and operating any financial institution established in Belize. They influence how the bank is structured and what types of services are offered.
Establish Accounts With a Belize Financial Institution
To launch a new bank based in Belize, you must have existing financial accounts within the country. These accounts must be with a bank that's been properly authorized to operate within Belize.
Checking accounts may cover operating and payroll expenses, while a savings account can hold emergency funds. Each account contains adequate balances and has a stated purpose, and is included in the overall business plan of the person or persons establishing the bank.
Introductory Meeting with the Central Bank of Belize
After conducting their due diligence, prospective bank founders have an initial meeting with the Central Bank of Belize. As stated earlier, this entity oversees the function of all financial entities within Belize and will issue the banking license once approved.
During this first meeting, Central Bank representatives share information, and attendees have the opportunity to ask questions. In many cases, the representatives who manage this first meeting remain available for questions at a later date.
Different Belize Banking Licenses
There are two types of offshore banking licenses available in Belize: Class A and Class B. How one plans on structuring the bank will determine the type of license needed.
Essentially, a Class A license places few restrictions on the operation. It will require a minimum capital investment of at least USD 3 million. There will also be a USD 20,000 annual fee. The Class B license requires a minimum capital investment of USD 500,000 and a yearly fee of USD 15,000. With Class B, there are some restrictions on what services you can offer.
Biographical Profiles of All Officers and Directors
The Central Bank requires information about the people who will own and operate the new bank. Detailed profiles of each officer and director, including specifics about education and formal experience in the financial industry, are part of those biographies. Belize requires at least five directors.
Other requirements include:
- Minimum of two character references for each director and officer
- Police reports for the last three to five years
- Letters of recommendation from established financial institutions for each director and officer
- Audited reports from the last three years on the finances of your present company
- Business Plan
A business plan must also be presented to the Central Bank when the formal application is submitted.
The following should be included in the business plan:
- Executive summary that serves as a quick outline of plans for the new institution
- Bank's proposed structure and description
- Marketing and sales strategies
- Management and personnel functions
- Other information specified in the application package obtained from the Central Bank
The Central Bank representatives can be called upon to answer any questions.
Review and Submission of Application and Required Documentation
Legal counsel and a licensing agent generally review all documentation to evaluate for accuracy. This ensures that any issues can be corrected before the actual submission.
At this time, a second meeting is scheduled with the Central Bank. Depending on several factors, it could be up to 30 days before the request is granted. Applicants use this time to review their applications and documents to ensure everything is in order.
Once all documentation is submitted, the Central Bank performs a comprehensive, detailed review. This process takes anywhere between six months to a year.
Establishing an Offshore Bank Account
Are you thinking of setting up your international bank in Belize, or do you want to open an offshore bank account for your personal use? Look to award-winning Caye International Bank in Belize to help you get started.
Located on Ambergris Caye island, Caye International Bank has helped thousands of individuals and businesses with their offshore banking needs for almost two decades. Contact us today for help in establishing your offshore accounts.
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