Saint Kitts: Law of Offshore
Table of Statutes
This is a non-exhaustive list of the main Saint Kitts statutes affecting offshore and non-resident business. The statutes are listed in alphabetical order – click on the statute for a fuller description of the statute, the legal regime it forms part of, or in some cases the text of the law.
Banking Act 1991
Captive Insurance Companies Act 2006
Citizenship Act 1984
Companies Act, 1996 (Saint Kitts and Nevis)
Confidential Relationships Act of St Christopher & Nevis, 1985
Financial Services (Regulations) Order, 1997 (Saint Kitts and Nevis)
Fiscal Incentives Act 1974
Foundation Act 2003
Hotel Aids Ordinance
Income Tax Ordinance (Saint Kitts and Nevis)
Limited Partnerships Act 1996 (Saint Kitts and Nevis)
Merchant Shipping Act 2002
Nevis Business Corporation Ordinance, 1984
Nevis Insurance Act 2009
Nevis International Exempt Trust Ordinance, 1994
Nevis International Insurance Ordinance, 2004
Nevis International Mutual Funds Ordinance, 2004
Nevis Limited Liability Company Ordinance, 1995
Nevis Multiform Foundations Ordinance, 2004
Nevis Offshore Banking Ordinance, 1996
Trusts Act 1996 (Saint Kitts and Nevis)
Under the Financial Services Order, 1997, which imposed a licensing and supervisory regime for all offshore financial services businesses, the National Assembly established a Financial Services Department headed by a Director General, whose responsibilities include monitoring the financial sector and examining the affairs or business of any authorized person to make sure of compliance with the law and determining whether the person being investigated is in a sound financial position and carrying on business in a satisfactory manner. In the Department's hierarchy are: (1) the Office of Superintendents, with Superintendents for Deposit-Taking and Investments, Insurance and Assurance, and Trust and Corporate Business; and (2) the Office of Registrars, composed of Registrars for Companies, Limited Partnerships and Trusts.
The law also sets minimum financial resources required by applicants to engage in deposit-taking, insurance and assurance, trust business, investment business, corporate, and holding companies. The minimums do not apply if a lawyer or accountant applies for permission to carry on corporate business.
"Finance business" is defined in the Order as being:
- deposit-taking business; (e.g. bankers, financiers, etc.)
- investment business; (e.g. stockbrokers, operators of collective investment schemes, etc.)
- insurance business; (e.g. insurers)
- assurance business; (e.g. insurance agents, insurance brokers, insurance managers, etc.)
- trust business; (e.g. professional trustees, protectors, etc.)
- corporate business, (e.g. nominee shareholders, professional directors, etc).
Domestic businesses are however specifically excluded from the Order and must be licensed under the Banking Act or the Insurance Act.
The Nevis Mutual Funds Ordinance was enacted on November 16th, 2004.
The Multiform Ordinance allows among other features for the transformation of a trust into a foundation and for consolidation of entities. Two other pieces of legislation, namely the Service Provider, Corporate Management and Trustee (Licensing) Ordinance and the Nevis Segregated Accounts Companies Ordinance, are currently being drafted.
Two bills strengthening the jurisdiction's offshore legislation were passed into law by the Nevis Island Assembly at its meeting on January 26, 2009. These were the Nevis Limited Liability Company Ordinance and the Nevis International Insurance ordinance.
Speaking after the bills' adoption, Legal Advisor to the Nevis Island Administration, Patrice Nisbett told the Department of Information that the amendments to the International Insurance Ordinance tightened some issues in the legislation surrounding reinsurance companies’ share capital.
“[The previous legislation] created certain confusion in the sector. We sought to deal with that confusion by specifically amending the section which dealt with the issue of share capital for re insurance companies, and lowered the threshold requirement from USD200,000 to USD75,000," he said.
It is intended that the changes will ultimately make the jurisdiction more competitive.
Speaking on the amendments made to the Limited Liability Ordinance 2009, he explained what parliament sought to address: “We were putting in place a provision for a prescribed fee for persons who wish to search the register of limited liability companies. Also when foreign companies or foreign limited liability companies wish to re-domicile in the jurisdiction of Nevis, the Nevis Island Administration after consultation with the service providers came to a consensus, whereby they had indicated to us that they would wish that at least a 60-day period in terms of a certificate of good standing should be made available to the Registrar of Companies,” he said.
It would be mandatory for that particular company wishing to domicile in Nevis to provide the Registrar of Companies with a certification from the original jurisdiction stating that the company now wishing to re-domicile in Nevis no longer existed in that foreign jurisdiction. The legislation also requires certain prerequisites or obligations of the foreign company wishing to redomicile.
Another bill proposed but not enacted at the time was the Nevis Business Corporation Amendment Ordinance 2009, which introduces a provision that deals with the protection of minority shareholders of corporate structures.
Nibett explained: “The legislation as it stands now has no protection to deal with the issue of oppression by the majority shareholders upon minority shareholders, so in our jurisdiction we have sought to put in place a provision to deal with this eventuality. We have had a number of instances in our jurisdiction, the complaint has been made to us and we have listened, we have now drafted a provision that we feel is a balanced provision and its reflective of the situation.”
“We believe that when this piece of legislation is eventually passed it will correct the necessary defect that is existing in this particular legislation with regards to the issue of minority holders versus majority shareholders and the effect that they may have in terms of winding up and existing entity."