Belize Offshore Jurisdiction
After the enactment of the Registration of Merchant Ships Act in 1989, the International Business Companies Act in 1990, Trusts Act on 1992 and Offshore Banking Act in 1996 the main outbreak in the development of Belize offshore industry happened in 1998 when the election of a new Government in Belize provided fresh stimulus to develop the offshore services sector.
In 1999, 7 offshore industry measures were added to the statute book. They included:
- the International Financial Services Commission Act (promoting, protecting and enhancing an international financial services center of Belize and regulating the provision of international financial services);
- the Mutual Funds Act (providing for the authorisation, regulation and control of mutual funds as well as their managers and administrators);
- the Protected Cell Companies Act (allowing to incorporate protected cell companies or convert existing company to a protected cell company);
- the International Insurance Act (providing for the regulation of people opening and holding international insurance business);
- the Limited Liability Partnerships Act (allowing to create limited liability partnerships);
- the International Business Companies (Amendment) Act (providing for the establishment of limited life companies);
- the Retired Persons (Incentives) Act (offering certain tax exemptions and incentives to qualified retired persons).
Currently, Belize offers a wide range of investment vehicles that meet the needs of sophisticated investors all over the world.
The following types of business ownership are allowed by Belizean laws:
- International Business Companies,
- Trust Funds,
- Private Companies,
- Limited Liability Partnership,
- Limited Life Companies,
- Public Investment Companies,
- Joint Ventures and Cooperatives,
- Sole Proprietor.
Despite the number of the forms of business ownership, nearly all offshore or foreign businesses use just 2 of them - the International Business Company or Trust forms - either separately or in combination.
Developing its offshore sector, Belize has not overlooked the possibility that offshore vehicles may be used for money-laundering and other illegal activities. Therefore, in 1996, Belize passed the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act establishing mechanisms and procedures to avoid and fight illegal proceedings. This Act ensures Belize´s strategy to develop a reputable offshore services sector.
Belize´s banking sector (offshore banking includingly) is regulated by the Central Bank of Belize. As to the non-banking sector, it falls within the jurisdiction of the International Financial Services Commission (IFSC), the members of which represent both private and public sectors.