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About Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia – The New Frontier for International Financial Services!

History shows that Saint Lucia has long been established in international commerce.  Indeed, so significant was its strategic location that the island was fiercely fought over by the British and French from 1664 to 1814.  British sovereignty was finally established in 1814 and continued until independence in 1979.  The focus of yesteryear's striving for Saint Lucia was based for a large part on controlling the  large natural harbour with which the island is blessed.  The focus today is Saint Lucia's international financial services sector.

 

Saint Lucia is relatively new to the world of international financial services, but this late entrance in 2000 enabled a legislative framework that international regulators have commended as meeting the highest international regulatory standards: no alterations have had to be made to meet the recommendations and requirements of the OECD or FATF.  The legislation and regulations are designed to attract high quality business and permit the efficient flow of transactions relating to such business.

 

Saint Lucia has not positioned itself as the lowest cost jurisdiction in the international financial services arena but rather boasts of a competent and highly professional service sector committed to meeting and exceeding the service needs of international investors using our jurisdiction.  Telecommunications, oil and gas, financing, hotel and tourism and manufacturing are all examples of sectors structuring through Saint Lucia and/or headquartering in Saint Lucia due to the business friendly environment.  Additionally, Saint Lucia is being used for captive insurance, reinsurance, life and general insurance in the offshore sector.

 

Under the international financial services legislation, International Business Companies (IBCs) are exempt from tax, unless an election is made at incorporation to pay tax at 1%.  IBCs are the legal vehicle for most international financial service activity, including holding companies, banks, insurance companies and mutual funds.  The 1% tax election is significant for purposes of utilizing the CARICOM Double Tax Agreement which holds that once tax is paid in a member jurisdiction, then remittances to any other CARICOM member country are tax free.  This presents interesting opportunities for clients structuring within the Caribbean and has been a growth factor for regional business using Saint Lucia.

 

In addition to the exemption from income tax, IBCs are exempt from withholding taxes, dividends and capital gains taxes and stamp duties.  There are also no sales taxes in effect in Saint Lucia and there are no foreign exchange controls in place either.  These attractive tax treatments, when layered with a treaty jurisdiction such as Barbados or Trinidad, offer potential for other benefits.  Persons working in the international financial services sector are also able to apply to the Minister of Finance for partial or total exemptions on personal income taxes.

 

Another growing use for the Saint Lucia international financial services sector is banking and finance.  Class A banks are permitted to conduct all categories of offshore business, while Class B banks are restricted to doing business with parties listed at the time of application.  

 

Trust practitioners in Saint Lucia have the option of utilizing either the International Trusts Act or the domestic trust law which recognizes the Laws of England as the governing laws.

 

Private and public mutual fund business continues to grow in Saint Lucia as well, with the newly passed incorporated cell company legislation being attractive.  Public funds are required to have an administrator in Saint Lucia.  Private funds in Saint Lucia are geared to the "sophisticated investor" and are only required to be registered with the regulator and can have up to 100 investors.

 

There are other attractions to Saint Lucia, including the strong telecommunications infrastructure, ease of international accessibility, with Saint Lucia offering two airports, and a well educated workforce drawn from the population of approximately 170,000.  Testimony to the strength of our educational system is the fact that Saint Lucia has the distinction of having produced two Nobel Laureates, the most of any country in the world on a per capita basis.

 

The personal and institutional real estate market has developed strongly and there are numerous world class developments taking place in the resort and recreational sectors.  We look forward to welcoming you here!  For more information about the international financial services sector in Saint Lucia you can visit www.pinnaclestlucia.com.