The Bahamas Parliament has passed amendments to the Foundations Act, 2004 as well as to the Purpose Trust Act 2004. In submitting the amendment bills to Parliament, Financial Services Minister Vincent Peet indicated that these were designed to provide enhanced clarity and to ensure both products remain attractive and competitive.
Foundations: *The amendments provide for the appointment of a foundation agent with responsibilities similar to those of a Registered Agent of an IBC; make a foundation council mandatory in the event that a foundation agent but no officer is appointed; makes provision for the foundation agent to be excused from all liability except fraud; clarifies that initial assets can be transferred to a foundation after registration; limits a beneficiary’s access to information and documents to those relating to his own vested interest; simplifies accounts for the foundation; and provides that the names of the founder and foundation council need not be of public record.*
Purpose Trusts: *The amendment clarifies that persons can benefit from an authorised purpose trust irrespective of whether they are connected or associated with any of the authorised purposes, ensures that the authorised purpose trusts meet commercial needs.*
The introduction of the Bahamian Foundation in 2004 was considered a milestone for the financial services sector because The Bahamas became the first premier common law jurisdiction with legal provision for foundations. The then Minister of Financial Services described foundations as another example of legislation designed to encourage the continued growth of the country’s financial services sector – a reflection of The Bahamas’ commitment to remain relevant to the needs of existing and new clients.
The Purpose Trust Act was also seen as another critical step towards the modernisation exercise of the legislative platform of the country’s financial services industry. The Bahamas has specialised in private client business and the utilisation of various types of trusts accounts for a large volume of business. At the time the Purpose Trusts Act was passed in Parliament, Government noted 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.”*