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Curaçao: Law of Offshore

Banking Law

Banks and other financial institutions in Curaçao are governed under the National Ordinance for the Supervision of Banking and Credit Institutions 1994. The supervisory authority is the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS, the central bank); (formerly known as Bank of the Netherlands Antilles (BNA, the central bank)); any legal entity involved in financing or providing funds or credit facilities must obtain a licence from the CBCS.

There is an exception to the requirement to obtain a licence for 'Concern-Financing Corporations', sometimes called 'CFCs' and not to be confused with 'Controlled Foreign Corporations' in the legislation of many high-tax countries. These CFCs are subsidiaries or affiliates of international groups, and such a company is exempt from licensing if:

  • it receives at least 90% of its funding from the group, and any bearer bonds it issues are limited to institutional investors; or
  • its loans are only to group companies, and the parent company of the group has provided a guarantee to the central bank to cover its external borrowing.

Offshore banks will fall under the heading of 'International Credit Institutions': they acquire their funds from foreign sources and lend to non-residents. The application to the BNA for a license includes the following information:

  • the Memorandum and Articles of Incorporation (or the Statutes);
  • the names and antecedents of the key shareholders, managers or beneficial owners;
  • the last 3 years' annual reports and accounts, issued by a certified accountant and without qualification;
  • a business plan and details of proposed operations;
  • details of the proposed financial controls and accounting arrangements;
  • details of corporate structure.

There is no legislation on banking secrecy as such, although breaches of a confidential relationship can be the subject of prosecutions under the Criminal Code. Curaçao has mutual assistance agreements with a number of other states and has been included in the OECD 'white list' of countries since September, 2009.

There are several pieces of legislation dealing with money laundering, and specifically targeted at drug-related money:

  • The National Ordinance on Penalization of Money Laundering 1993 provides severe criminal penalties for the laundering of money derived from criminal activity;
  • The National Ordinance for the reporting of Unusual Transactions 1996 imposes criminal penalties on financial service providers who fail to report 'unusual' transactions; and
  • The National Ordinance for Identification when Rendering Financial Services imposes criminal penalties on financial service providers who do not apply 'know your customer' rules to their clients.



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