Today we continue our journey across jurisdictions that are so similar it becomes difficult to tell them apart.
This time, the subject matter is the island of Saint Lucia, a tax haven which sees an overrepresentation of Italian clientèle.
This tiny little island hinges at the extreme of the Caribbean, being one of the most eastern of all Caribbean islands except for Barbados (which technically isn’t in the Caribbean).
Saint Lucia like most Caribbean offshore jurisdictions and some of the Pacific ones are superficially almost indistinguishable from each other – all basing their IBC laws on the BVI original, trust law on UK and British Overseas Territories tradition, and foundation laws on Liechtenstein and Panama.
Geography and Demography[table]
Full Name:;Saint Lucia
Other major languages:;Saint Lucian Creole, French
Type of government:;Parliamentary democracy
GDP per capita:;8,000 USD
Currency:;East Caribbean Dollar (XCD), pegged at 1 USD = 2.7 XCD[/table]
Incorporation and Business
At the end of the day, an IBC is an IBC. It’s still a problematic company type in and of itself due to the strict secrecy and lax standards of compliance.
OECD has rated Saint Lucia as Partially Compliant, meaning it still has quite a lot left to achieve. It seems that Saint Lucian registered agents can refuse requests for information. This effectively means it’s up to the registered agent to choose whether they should comply or not. Unlike a handful other jurisdiction where EOI is legally impossible, Saint Lucia is in a position where there is a choice.
If Saint Lucia were to become a bigger, more important jurisdiction, this degree of selective secrecy could potentially wreak havoc to its reputation and place it among the likes of Brunei and Vanuatu. However, because of its relatively small size, this has not yet proven a significant challenge.
It’s your typical IBC jurisdiction. Not much to say. Saint Lucia enacted its International Business Companies Act in 2000.
Costs of incorporation are mid-range but there is a rather limited supply of registered agents, which hasn’t created a particularly healthy competition.
Ultimate responsibility falls on the Ministry of Finance and its Financial Services Regulatory Authority.
Promotion and some degree of oversight is provided by the registry, Pinnacle St. Lucia.
International Business Company (IBC)
- One director required. Corporate directors permitted.
- One shareholder required. Corporate shareholders permitted.
- No paid up share capital required (usually 50,000 USD authorized).
- Registered address in Saint Lucia required.
- No audit or filing required unless the company opts for it or opts for taxation.
Bearer shares are not permitted. Only registered shares are allowed.
Optional and in most cases none. Those who opt to pay tax pay a tax rate of 1%.
Company name only. Directors and shareholders are not known to the company registry.
Saint Lucia Trust
In 2002, Saint Lucia enacted its International Trusts Act. It has seen very little usage and offers nothing unique.
Generally unimpressive if not downright bad.
It’s the same as all other IBA jurisdictions:
In theory, the secrecy is rigorous.
In reality, Saint Lucia lacks any tradition of secrecy and privacy.
Saint Lucia authorities are empowered to compel banks to disclose information without a court order, and share this information with foreign authorities. Note that this is different than the selective secrecy surrounding companies.
Banks in Saint Lucia
There are nine banks licensed under the IBA:
- Amerigo Banking Corporation – class B, 2004
- Atlantic Financial Limited – class B, 2008
- Bank of St. Lucia International Limited (BOSLIL) – class A, 2004
- Corom Bank Limited – class A, 2014
- First Citizens St. Lucia Limited – class A, 2004
- First Citizens Financial Services (St. Lucia) Ltd. – class B, 2010
- Hermes Bank Limited – class A, 2012
- Mayberry West Indies Bank Limited – class A, 2014
- Petrus Private Bank Limited – class A, 2015
- PLG Capital Bank Limited – class B, 2014
- Sovereign Bank Inc. – class A, 2012
- StateTrust International Bank & Trust Ltd. – class A, 2007
- Via Bank Ltd. – class A, 2006
Class A license is a license to conduct business with third parties who are neither citizens nor residents of Saint Lucia. Physical presence in Saint Lucia is required, but this in practice only means a dedicated address and an accountant.
Class B licenses are limited to conducting business with a defined group of people, i.e. captive banking. A physical presence in Saint Lucia is not required, beyond a registered address.
Living in Saint Lucia
Although there are some tax advantages to living in Saint Lucia, mainly the lack of a capital gains tax, obtaining residence in Saint Lucia offers no clear advantages over comparable jurisdictions. Permanent residence permit can be acquired after five years of residence, which is usually attained by purchasing real estate or by having a work permit (which is difficult to get).
Crime is a growing problem on the island, which is a relatively poor nation. Some parts of the capital Castries should by avoided.
Infrastructure is poor although strong enough to maintain a fairly large tourism sector.
Just another IBC/IBA jurisdiction.
No major reputational disadvantages that would set it aside from its peers, except it’s relatively unknown.
Can be more secretive than others.