Saint Kitts: Offshore Business Sectors
St. Kitts has made steady progress in developing its financial services sector since securing its removal from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and OECD blacklists in 2002, but has had to develop new legislation and financial products to ensure that it stayed off the list.
Although St. 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 a federal offshore regime in 1996 with a new Companies Act and Trusts Act. Still, St. 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 federal government introduced the Merchant Shipping Act in 2002 and the Foundation Act in 2003. The Merchant Shipping Act makes provisions for the registration of ships and pleasure vessels in St. Kitts. Statistics for 2011 showed that a total of 710 vessels were registered with a total deadweight of over 1.4 million tonnes.
The Foundation Act provides for the formation of private foundations. The Foundation Act is expected to enhance the attractiveness of St. Kitts as an international financial centre 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.