Antigua and Barbuda has been well established as an international finance centre for over 30 years and while 2013 has provided numerous challenges for IFCs around the globe, Antigua and Barbuda has responded quickly to these developments.
This year has seen a number of legislative changes in order to increase the jurisdictions attractiveness to investors, to adhere to international global standards and to improve the existing regulatory framework.
Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Act, 2013
Under the provisions of this Act, there are three options for obtaining citizenship in return for varied levels of monetary investment in the country. These options are (i) Real Estate Investment (minimum US$400,000.00) in an approved development area, (ii) National Development Investments (minimum US$250,000.00 to the National Development Fund) and (iii) Investment in Business (minimum of approximately US$1.5million). The programme which is to be managed by the Citizenship by Investment Unit is being formally launched in October 2013. All applications for citizenship under the Act have to be made through a licensed Agent resident in Antigua and Barbuda.
Money Laundering (Prevention) (Amendment Act), 2013
This amendment further ensures compliance with global standards. In particular it clarifies the definition of “financial institution” and has greatly expanded the definition of “money laundering offence” to include additional offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Misuse of Drugs Act and the addition of offences under The Prevention of Terrorism Act, The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act, The Migrant Smuggling (Prevention) Act, The Forgery Act, The Larceny Act and The Firearms Act. This Amendment also introduced provisions dealing with the examination of Financial Institutions for AML/CFT Compliance by the Supervisory Authority, the powers of the Supervisory Authority in conducting its examinations, Sanctions that the Supervisory Authority can impose on financial institutions for non-compliance and the Appeal process available to financial institutions.
The Financial Services Regulatory Commission Act, 2013
Prior to the passing of this Act, matters relating to the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) were embedded in the International Business Corporations Act. This Act now deals with all matters relating to the FSRC and has expanded on the prior provisions. The principal functions of the FSRC are now clearly defined as regulatory, collaborative and advisory. The Act makes provisions for such matters as the appointment of the Board of directors and the conduct of their meetings, staffing, funds and resources. The FSRC is now empowered to make rules to regulate its own internal management as well as rules and guidelines concerning the conduct of its licensees. This Act should streamline and enhance the operations of the FSRC.
In keeping with its commitment to the Global Forum’s initiative on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, Antigua has now signed 20 Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA). The TIEA with Sweden which was signed on 19th May 2010 finally came into force on 1st June 2013. In addition to the above, following the completion of the Global Forum’s Supplementary Peer Review Phase 1 on 20 June 2012, the Peer Review Phase 2 was launched on 6 September 2013.
US Gambling Dispute
The World Trade Organisation has found in favour of Antigua and Barbuda in connection with its long standing dispute with the United States over internet gambling and has authorised the jurisdiction to introduce trade sanctions regarding intellectual property rights against US companies up to the sum of US$21m per year.
Corporate Management & Trust Service Providers
All persons/entities engaged in providing services defined in the Corporate Management & Trust Service Providers Act (eg, incorporating companies under the International Business Corporations Act, providing registered agent/office and director services for such companies etc) are now required to be licensed by the Financial Services Regulatory Commission on an annual basis. As part of the licensing requirements such persons/entities are required to be compliant with the AML/CFT requirements of the various relevant laws including the Corporate Management & Trust Service Providers Act, the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act and The Prevention of Terrorism Act.
While Antigua and Barbuda continues to respond and evolve to the demands of the global wealth management industry and adhere to international standards it will remain one of the region’s most successful and competitive international finance centres.
Alice Roberts, Managing Director, CMT Corporate Services Limited, Antigua