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Seychelles: Offshore Business Sectors

Introduction

Offshore business in the Seychelles started to develop in 1994, when the government launched a series of legislative initiatives aimed at establishing the country as a modern, world-class international offshore financial centre. Much of the legislation was based on that of successful jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.

The 1994 legislation covered the registration of offshore companies, offshore trusts and the licensing of international trade zone companies. Additional legislation was introduced covering the licensing of offshore banks, offshore insurance companies and the establishment of a securities industry. In 2003, the government legislated for additional types of company: special licence companies, protected cell companies and limited partnerships.

The Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA) was set up by the Seychelles International Business Authority Act 1994 to administer the offshore sector and deal with the registration of offshore companies as well as supervision of the Seychelles International Trade Zone (SITZ).

In May 2003, the government said it wanted the offshore sector to become a 'third pillar' of the economy, revealing that SIBA's efforts had led to a 40% increase in offshore incorporations. The number of international business companies (IBCs) on the register has now surpassed 150,000, making the Seychelles one of the fastest growing offshore centres in the world. The Interactive Gambling Bill was also passed in 2003, which incorporates aspects of the gaming industry into existing law.

The International Corporate Service Providers Act, 2003, substantially improved and simplified the regime for incoming investment. Previously, the Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA) had the power to issue licences to offshore businesses, but to gain fiscal concessions, a company needed to obtain a certificate from the Ministry of Finance under the Investment Promotion Act.

The new act streamlined the procedure for establishing an offshore business, avoiding the need for a separate IPA application to the Finance Ministry. See Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes for further details of the new legislation.

Towards the end of 2010, SIBA began its move towards the creation of a dedicated securities authority, to be known as the Securities and Financial Markets Section (SAFMS) of SIBA. The SAFMS will establish regulations, rules and guidelines in respect of the legislation covering the financial markets, products and businesses. It will also license and supervise the operation of the financial centre and regulate the activities, standards and performance of the participants to ensure compliance with legislation, regulations, rules and guidelines. The SAFMS will also enforce the regulations, rules and guidelines as necessary. The SAFMS expects to play a key role in the development of a respected and successful financial centre in the Seychelles.

This section of the Lowtax site describes the most important types of offshore business activity carried out from the Seychelles.

 

 

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