Nevis and St Kitts were discovered by Columbus in 1493 and settled by the English in 1625. For 200 years the considerable sugar production made them one of the riches places in the world. They remained British colonies until they gained their independence in 1983, s the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis The legal system is based on English common law. It is a part of the West Indies court system with the British Privy Council being the court of last resort. Both the Federation Government and the locally elected Assemblies are based on the British parliamentary system. The Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis holds a position similar to a US State Governor or a Premier of a Canadian province.

Nevis and St Kitts are vigorous, conservative democracies and have an excellent education system with a literacy rate of 96% - the highest in the Western hemisphere. The Freedom Foundation (based in the US) has declared the Islands' as one of the top ten free nations in the world. The Islands are located bout 250 miles south-east of Puerto Rico in the Leeward Islands group of the Lesser Antilles, and it is one of eight island governments using the Eastern Caribbean dollar ($EC). It is pegged to the US$ at a fixed rate of $US1 to $EC2.70. That rate of exchange has remained constant for over 20 years, and all eight participating governments must agree on any change in currency value, therefore it is a very stable currency.

Why Go Offshore?

People and companies use offshore trusts, corporations and limited liability companies for varied reasons. Amongst these are:

  1. financial privacy;
  2. legal income, capital gains, estate and gift taxes;
  3. tax reduction;
  4. asset protection;
  5. protection from inflation;
  6. asset and currency diversification;
  7. immunity to domestic law;
  8. higher returns on investment estate planning;
  9. more favourable foreign laws.

Why Use Nevis?

Nevis has established a mix of new and modern international laws that, coupled with its extremely stable government and modern infrastructure, make it the premier offshore centre in the world. The Nevis Government continues to be very proactive in its development as an offshore centre, allowing us to offer our clients a premiere offshore base of operations with:

  1. an independent and stable government;
  2. modern telecommunications infrastructure;
  3. statutes that guarantee confidentiality;
  4. modern and progressive trust and company laws;
  5. statutes that provide tax exemption;
  6. no tax information treaties with the US;
  7. trust and LLC Ordinances.

The Nevis Business Ordinance, 1984

The Nevis Business Corporation Ordinance is considered by many international attorneys to be the most flexible corporate statute available from any offshore centre. The Corporation Ordinance is based upon British and US company law and features:

  1. strict confidentiality of beneficial ownership;
  2. total tax exemption and no exchange controls;
  3. no filing of financial or annual reports;
  4. no filing of financial or annual reports;
  5. corporate entities may act as director, officers or shareholders;
  6. location of principle records and office may be outside of Nevis.

The Nevis International Exempt Trust Ordinance, 1994

The Nevis Exempt Trust Ordinance contains asset protection provisions, considered to be among the best in the world by trust and estate planning experts worldwide. Trusts are a widely used structure providing for the protection of assets from the claims of third parties. There are many benefits for using trusts. These include:

  1. trustees must adhere to strict confidentiality rules;
  2. creditors must establish burden of proof of intent to defraud;
  3. commencement of any legal action requires posting of US$25,000 bonds;
  4. flexible choice of law provisions;
  5. taxation and exchange controls exemption;
  6. the Rule Against Perpetuities does not apply;
  7. trusts cannot be invalidated by foreign heirship rules;
  8. any legal challenges must be made within one year of settlement.

The Nevis Limited Liability Company Ordinance, 1995

The Nevis Limited Liability Ordinance has made Nevis an important offshore domicile for attorneys who use limited liability companies. Benefits include:

  1. anonymity of ownership, management and assets;
  2. exemption from tax and exchange controls;
  3. no financial or annual reports required to be filed;
  4. single member LLC recognised;
  5. flexible ownership and management structure;
  6. no residency requirements.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.