Offshore Banking in
Belize continues to enhance its position as
a reputable offshore centre with the recent modernization and strengthening
of its financial sector's regulatory environment. This was achieved when the
outdated 1977 Banking Act, which did not adequately provide for a sound
regulatory and supervisory authority, was repealed and replaced by the
enactment of the Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1995, and the
introduction of the Offshore Banking Act, 1996, and the Money Laundering
(Prevention) Act, 1996.
According to an official of the Central
Bank of Belize, the financial sector's regulatory and supervisory body, many
applications for offshore banking licences have been received since the
introduction of the new legislation, but to date only two have successfully
met all the requirements, and have been granted offshore banking licences.
The Central Bank's thoroughness in its vetting process will no doubt further
enhance the trust and confidence in the jurisdiction, as well as ensure the
granting of licences to only reputable entities.
The legislation defines Offshore Banking as
"receiving, borrowing or taking up
foreign money exclusively from non-residents at interest or otherwise on
current account, savings account, term deposit or other similar account
and which according and subject to arrangement is repayable on the cheque,
draft, order, authority or similar instrument of the customer, and
investing the foreign money so received by lending, giving credit or
otherwise exclusively to non-residents; or carrying on exclusively with
non-residents such other activities as are customarily related or
ancillary to offshore banking."
Types of Belize Offshore
There are two categories of Belize Offshore
Banks currently available, "A" Class - Unrestricted and "B" Class -
Restricted, the latter can apply to change its status at any time.
"A" Class - Unrestricted
The holder of an "A" Class offshore banking
licence needs to establish, maintain, and operate a business office
(physical presence) in Belize. This type of Belize Offshore Bank is
permitted to transact offshore banking business through its business office
in Belize without restrictions on that business.
- Annual Licence Fee: US $20,000
- Authorised and paid up capital of not
less than US $500,000 must be maintained if the licence is for a local
company, or US $25,000,000 in the case of a foreign bank.
"B" Class - Restricted
The holder of a "B" Class offshore banking
licence also needs to establish, maintain, and operate a business office
(physical presence) in Belize, but they are limited to transacting only such
offshore banking business as is specified in its licence. A "B" Class Belize
Offshore Bank is prohibited from soliciting or accepting monetary deposits
or any other valuable property from the general public, as well as from
issuing cheque books or providing any current deposits or chequing account
facilities to depositors.
- Annual Licence Fee: US $15,000
- Authorised and paid up capital of not
less than US $200,000 must be maintained if the licence is for a local
company, or US $15,000,000 in the case of a foreign bank.
Belize's Offshore Banking legislation
stipulates that an entity is eligible to apply for an offshore banking
- it is incorporated or registered under
the Companies Act or the International Business Companies Act as a company
limited by shares, or if it is a foreign bank;
- its shares are in registered form and
not in bearer form;
- its memorandum and articles of
association are acceptable to the Central Bank; and
- its authorized and paid up capital are
in compliance with statutory requirements (See section above).
Upon application, eligible companies must
furnish the following documentation, along with a non-refundable fee of
- name and address of directors and
- the ultimate beneficial ownership of the
company or proposed company where shareholders of record are, or are to
be, corporations, trust or other legal entities or organizations, or where
the shareholders of record are acting as nominees for or under the
direction of any other person;
- the shareholding structure, management,
and financial standing of the company;
- detailed business and financial plans;
- particulars of referees, guarantors and
other third parties;
- details of any subsidiary or affiliated
- details of any overseas office which the
company has or proposes to open;
- names and addresses of the external
auditors including the experience of the auditors in auditing banks;
- if a foreign bank, a written statement
confirming that there is no objection to the application from banking
supervisory authorities in its country of incorporation and in the country
where its principal office is located;
- signed application by the directors of
the eligible company; and
- any other information that the Central
Bank may require.
The Central Bank of Belize submits its
recommendation to the Minister of Finance within sixty days of receiving a
completed application. After which, a decision is rendered within four weeks
by the Minister.
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effort has been made to ensure that the details contained herein are correct and
up-to-date, it does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We do not
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