The Bahamas Government has tabled a series of financial services industry bills in Parliament. In mid March, bills for the Purpose Trust Act 2004 and the Perpetuities (Amendment) Act, 2004 were presented to the House of Assembly by the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Minister of Financial Services and Investments.
On Purpose Trusts, the Minister said *”The passage of the bill will be one more important step in the modernisation exercise of the legislative platform underpinning the financial services industry in The Bahamas.”* She indicated that the government has been working on an ongoing basis in conjunction with its appointed Financial Services Consultative Forum, and the Bahamas Financial Services Board on proposed legislation related to the financial services sector, and that the bill was part of a package of legislation geared towards ensuring that The Bahamas remains competitive.
The amendment to the Perpetuities Acts seeks to increase the perpetuity period from eighty years to one hundred and fifty years.
*”There can be no doubt that as one of the premier international financial centres in the world, The Bahamas must maintain a modern statutory framework to govern trust business in this country,”* says Minister Maynard-Gibson.
Tabled in Parliament this past week was a bill for the establishment of Foundations. The object of the Bill is to provide the legislative basis for the establishment of foundations as vehicles for the holding of private assets endowed on the foundation for the benefit of identified persons or classes of persons. The introduction of Foundations has been identified by the financial services industry as an important step in the growing of the sector.
Wendy Warren, BFSB’s CEO & Executive Director, said the tabling of this bill was a direct consequence of significant contribution by the private sector. In particular, the Association of International Banks and Trust Companies (AIBT) sponsored the development of the first draft of the Foundations Bill and has continued to provide support through the refinement of the draft legislation and general support for its introduction.
Andrew Law, AIBT Chairman, says that with the passing of the Foundations Bill The Bahamas will be the only jurisdiction in the world able to cater to clients that have business interests in both the North American and South American markets. BFSB Chairman Michael Paton also points out that a Bahamian Foundation would have broad legal recognition by continental Europeans.
Legislation relating to Segregated Account Companies is expected to be tabled in Parliament in short order. Also awaiting tabling in the House of Assembly is the new Domestic Insurance Act, with the External Insurance Act also to be amended.