The information below provides details on the Barbados banking system, and details on opening a Barbados offshore 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 Barbados.
Barbados’ financial sector consists of the Central Bank, commercial, merchant, and offshore banks, international business companies and various non-bank financial institutions including trust companies, deposit taking companies, insurance companies and financing companies. Credit unions and co-operatives are also an important part of Barbados’ financial system.
Barbados has had a Central Bank since 1973. The main role of the Central Bank is to act as banker, fiscal agent and financial advisor to the Government and to monitor and regulate the activities of commercial banks and other financial institutions. It also has a duty to promote monetary stability and exchange policies conducive to the growth of the economy.
The Central Bank is responsible for the licensing, regulation, and inspection of commercial banks, offshore banks, merchant banks, trust companies and finance companies (collectively “supervised entities”). These entities must provide the Central Bank with quarterly reports. Overseas directors of offshore banks meet with the Central Bank on a yearly basis.
The Central Bank has fifteen staff employed in its Bank Supervision Department and places a degree of reliance on auditors to verify proper policies and procedures. The Central Bank issued “Anti-Money Laundering Guidelines For Licensed Financial Institutions” (the “Guidelines”) in March 1995. The Guidelines: apply to domestic financial institutions, as well as to offshore banks, trust companies and merchant banks; and, are enforced through moral suasion. There are no specific penalties for cases of non-compliance.
Under the authority of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Control) Act (1998), the government established the Anti-Money Laundering Authority and its operating arm, the Financial Intelligence Unit in 2000. The Bank Supervision Department issued in 2001 revised Anti-Money Laundering Guidelines for Licensed Financial Institutions. The Barbados domestic financial sector consists of 6 domestic banks, 2 merchant banks, 38 credit unions and one money remitter. The offshore sector includes 4,635 international business companies, 413 exempt insurance companies and 53 offshore banks (November 2004 figures). Starting in 2001, the government required Barbados’s institutions and legal entities to reveal the identity of beneficiaries receiving dividends or interest, with the possible penalty for American companies of not getting the benefits of the U.S.-Barbados tax treaty and being subject to the full U.S. withholding tax at a rate of 30-31 percent.
Assets of commercial banks totaled USD 3.5 billion in October 2004, and remained relatively consistent throughout the year. The reserve requirement for commercial banks is 16 percent of deposit liabilities and the minimum deposit rate is 2.5 percent. The weighted average interest rate was 2.53 percent on deposits and 9.7 percent on loans in October 2004, and has remained within half a percentage point of each of those levels since 2002.
Financial Institutions Operating
Commercial banks licensed to operate in Barbados:
Offshore banks licensed in Barbados:
Contact Us to learn more about Barbados offshore banking or offshore account opening in another country.