The information below provides details about the Antigua banking system, and details on opening an Antigua offshore bank account. You will find details on the laws and regulations that govern the banking system, as well as a list of local and international banks that operate in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Financial Services Sector in Antigua and Barbuda is relatively small. The Sector offers service in international banking, trust and insurance in addition to the incorporation of ordinary international business corporations (IBC’s).
The Financial Services Sector is supervised and regulated by the International Financial Sector Regulatory Authority (“The Authority”). The Authority was established as a body corporate under the International Business Corporation (Amendment) Act 1998. Its composition was changed in 1999. The Authority is now managed by four Directors with the Solicitor-General serving as the chairman of the Authority.
The duties of the Authority include administration of the International Business Corporations Act including the issuing of certificates of incorporation for international business corporations, licensing of corporations to conduct international banking, trust and insurance business and regulation of all entities incorporated and licensed under the Act. The Authority is also responsible for recommending regulations to be made to give effect to the better administration of the Act.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has implemented numerous policies and safeguards to properly regulate the Offshore Banking Industry. International concerns about Money-Laundering and other illegal financial activities have promoted the Government to review, and revise the existing laws that apply to offshore Banking. As a result, there have been recent amendments to the International Business Corporation Act and the Money-Laundering (Prevention) Act. The Government’s objective is to ensure that the country’s reputation, within the International financial services community, is not tarnished or compromised.
There are some of the provisions of these Acts which are primarily intended to create, within Antigua and Barbuda, a stable and safe operating environment for Offshore Banks:
The establishment, licensing and activities of offshore Banks are governed by the provisions of the International Business Corporations Act.
Any International Business Corporation (IBC) may apply to the International Financial Sector Regulatory Authority for a license to carry on International (or “Offshore”) Banking. Under the IBC Act, the Supervisor of International Banks is responsible for the issuance of Banking Licenses.
There is a statutory requirement that Offshore Banks must maintain a minimum capital of US$5 million. Of this amount, US$1.5 million must be deposited and kept in a bank licensed to do business in Antigua and Barbuda.
As a condition of its license, an offshore bank is required to submit financial returns to the Supervisor of banks every three (3) months. An audited financial statement must be filed annually, together with a certificate verifying current owners, directors and officers of the Bank.
The Government has endeavored to balance the need for customer confidentiality against its desire to adequately regulate the offshore banking industry. As a result, the law expressly prohibits unauthorized disclosure of certain information relating to the Bank’s operations and violators can be fined and/or imprisoned.
The IBC Act provides criminal penalties for any disclosure of the business affairs of customers regarding banking or trust matters. The only exception for the disclosure of information relates to sound evidence regarding an alleged criminal offence that is triable in Antigua (or which would have been triable, if it has been committed in Antigua).
Financial Institutions Operating – The main banks are as follows: