St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is situated in the Eastern Caribbean at the southern end of the Windward Islands chain. It is an archipelago of islands, St. Vincent being the largest, with the smaller Grenadines comprising Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Union Island, Palm Island, Petit St. Vincent and a number of small islets. The country lies approximately sixty one degrees West (61° W) longitude and thirteen degrees North (13° N) latitude, with its nearest neighbours being Barbados one hundred (100) miles to the East; St. Lucia twenty one (21) miles to the North and Grenada twenty eight (28) miles to the south.
The country covers approximately 384km², and has a total population of 111,380 (1998) updated figure). The capital, Kingstown has a population of 25,000. The topography is quite mountainous, with average temperature of 27° C, and annual rainfall of 2100 mm. The official language is English, with approximately 85% of the population being functionally literate. The currency used is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$), with an exchange rate of EC$1 = US$0.37.
The country gained independence from Britain on October 27, 1979, instituted a Parliamentary Democracy on the Westminister model, and has remained a part of the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and is represented by the Governor General, Sir Frederick Ballantyne. The Prime Minister is Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, whose party, the Unity Labour Party, was elected to office in March 2001. The legal system is based on English common law.
The legal system is derived from English common law and statues. There are 11 courts in three magisterial districts. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, comprising a high court and a court of appeals, is known as the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Supreme Court. The court of last resort is the judicial committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a developing country with a developing economy whose current focus is in the following sectors:
International Financial Services:
On 20th June 2003 SVG was removed from the FATF Blacklist. With this clean bill of health St. Vincent and the Grenadines has become a world-class international financial service centre, characterized by integrity, confidentiality and innovation. St. Vincent and the Grenadines also offers registration for flags of convenience. The location is ranked 11th globally for the service.
Composition of International Finance Sector
- International Business Companies (IBCs)
- International Trusts
- International Banks
- International Insurance Companies
- Mutual Funds
- Licensed Service Providers known as Registered Agents/Trustees
Agro-Business and Light Manufacturing:
Agro-Processing and Light Manufacturing are done for local consumption as well as niche market exports. There is significant investment in food processing facilities to ensure that they are all compliant with HACCP standards. Joint ventures are encouraged, however, foreign investors may own up to 100 percent of any enterprise.
Current projects include vacuum packing of vegetables, poultry hatching and processing and exporting of consumer-ready bottled coconut water. Customised as well as standard factory shells of 6,000, 10,000 and 20,000 sq. ft., which include electrical and plumbing connections, are readily available. These shells are managed by National Properties Ltd. The agro-processing and light manufacturing sector will also be energized by the linking of the International Financial Services to trade, as well as the introduction of the Free Port/Free Zone.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the home of the Mustique Company, the oldest most successful private investment project in the Caribbean. Mustique – one of the Grenadine islands – is among the top destinations in the Caribbean for the celebrity jet set, attracting notables ranging from Mick Jagger to Oprah Winfrey, and most recently Beyonce Knowles.
During the second half of 2004, a $250million, 300-acre resort will be opened on the nearby Grenadine island of Canouan. This facility by the Canouan Resorts Development Ltd. of Nassau consists of a 156-room Raffles Hotel and Spa, an 18-hole golf course designed by Jim Fazio and a European-style casino. The casino – named Trump Club Privee – will be managed by New York real estate baron Donald Trump. Trump will also promote the sale of dozens of million-dollar-plus villas and home sites on the property.
The following advantages of using St. Vincent and the Grenadines as an international financial services jurisdiction are:
- The lowest government fees of any offshore jurisdiction
- Zero taxation of international entities
- Old established banking history and culture
- Home of the Mustique Company – oldest, most successful private investment project in the Caribbean
- An independent supervisory Authority
- Excellent professional services
- A stable, secure and well regulated operational environment
- Culture of Anti Money Laundering (AML) Compliance
- Bearer Shares are provided by this jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions eliminated bearer shares, oblivious to the fact that many European countries still offer them
Below are some of the reasons why Wilfred regards St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a well respected international financial service jurisdiction:
- Safe and secure International Business Center for over 20 years
- Not on any OCED/FATF list
- Uses the Common Law
- First jurisdiction in the world to publish all application and renewal forms for offshore entities in Government regulations.
- First jurisdiction in the world with an international law that allows multiple classes and sizes of companies to be registered.
- First jurisdiction in the world to enact a mutual funds law with comprehensive exemptions for small closely held funds.
- First jurisdiction in the world to allow fast preliminary approvals and long term registration renewals for banks, insurance companies and mutual funds.