As **** early as the 1930’s, the Bahamas **** embraced the **** commitment to **** offer **** first class wealth management services to high net worth individuals and families locally and overseas. As time went by, the enactment of new laws and formation of new partnerships between private firms and the government transformed the offshore financial services sector into the medium through which private wealth management became a multi faceted domain for applying fiscal strategies and using offshore companies vehicles as asset and estate planning tools.

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In the Bahamas, corporate laws allow for the formation, registration and continuation of offshore vehicles such as international trusts, offshore foundations, offshore insurance companies, international business companies and offshore banks, which augment the chances of diversifying and increasing investments internationally, while legally curtailing taxes.

For a very long time, the importance of wealth management to the Bahamian economy and offshore sector has been acknowledged as critical given the number of Bahamians for whom employment have been created and due to the various sub sectors that developed and sprouted in response to the growing demands of the professional services and offshore sectors. These sub sectors create a wealth of career opportunities in accounting firms, legal corporate and tax consultancies, fund administration, private banking, estate planning, capital markets, brokerage and maritime services.

Alongside these sectoral advancements in The Bahamas, corporate agencies and secretarial services have occupied a vital space in facilitating the procurement of services by people overseas, providing follow-up services and corresponding with local government authorities on behalf of clients when necessary. Enhanced offshore activity in offshore banking, the establishment of offshore companies, trusts and foundations, as well as ship registration also required that the necessary modifications and upgrading of the corporate registries be done to ensure efficient corporate registration services. To date, over 4000 professionals are employed in Bahamas offshore sector.

The Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) and the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) endeavor to promote expansion, regulation and diversification in Bahamas offshore sector. To fulfill its objectives, the BIA and BFSB work closely with regulatory agencies, government and the private sector so that offshore and financial services are of standard, sustainable, competitive in meeting the demands of the international public and offered in an environment where regulatory standards are implemented and upheld. Sensitizing local and international stakeholders on issues affecting the Bahamas offshore sector is also crucial in the BIA and BFSB’s task of marketing Bahamas offshore sector as a wise investment option, especially as promotion ensures continuity and success of Bahamas offshore services as a medium for exposing The Bahamas to the world and a significant economic contributor.

As an effort to strengthen Bahamas offshore and financial sectors, in 2004, the first ‘Retreat’, an annual event, was organized by the BFSB to engage all stakeholders with the view of elaborating strategies that encourage improvement and networking in other Bahamas Islands. The sixth retreat is expected to be held in January 2010, between the 28th and 31st, in Bimini.

To express its willingness to recognize and implement international standards for offshore services in The Bahamas, two reports were published and presented to the G20 by the BFSB in September 2009. These reports discussed The Bahamas commitment to lend a hand with strengthening global liquidity and the capital framework for banks, increasing supervision of the financial system, ensuring recognition of international standards by stakeholders, and further toning the OTC derivatives market.

Very often, the positive aspects of offshore services are down played due to the heavy emphasis that is placed on the subject of low and zero taxation. But the fact is and will remain that fiscal policy is a decisive factor for local or foreign investment in a country. The tax regime in The Bahamas is known for its neutrality which gives all investors the security of being treated equally and not as a separate part of the Bahamian economy. This the Government of The Bahamas has accomplished by making no distinctions between people who are Bahamian and non-Bahamian for tax purposes. In this setting, as a tax haven The Bahamas enables all investors, both local and foreign nationals, to enjoy equal benefits and tax obligations. Bahamas tax haven status is further strengthened by exemptions for people and businesses including partnerships, resident and offshore companies, trusts from capital gains tax, tax on personal income, dividends, sales, inheritance and corporate income.

In comparison with other offshore jurisdictions where this level of tax freedom is only available to offshore companies, in the Bahamas, revenue from offshore activities is not limited to annual maintenance fees paid. In fact, this tax structure in The Bahamas has encouraged the development of an offshore manufacturing sector which on a yearly basis brings in about 130 million US dollars to The Bahamian economy, surpassing income earned from domestic manufacturing, which is estimated at about 90 million US dollars annually.

Foreign and offshore investments have great potential in the areas of mariculture, captive insurance, technical services, ship registration and repair, food processing, banking, wholesale distribution, aircraft and pharmaceuticals. All investors benefit from equal tax obligations and exemptions. Special committees were set up for the purpose of looking after key issues like the environment (The Bahamas Environment Science & Technology), as well as the acquisition of homes and property in The Bahamas as a tax haven.

Infrastructural development allows for business in The Bahamas to be conducted from Class A offices and dependable corporate support services. The Bahamas has a legislative framework which is based on the British model, is socially stable and continues to experience progress economically as a leading tax haven.