With its stable political environment, robust regulatory framework and a sophisticated portfolio of entity structures, the Republic of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean is an established international financial jurisdiction that offers businesses and investors a range of products to meet their increasingly complex needs. Today, a host of global financial institutions, law firms and corporate service providers have set up operations on the archipelago, attracted by the country’s many tax and business benefits.
“Seychelles as a jurisdiction has a very solid regulatory framework that is a hybrid of English common law and French civil law. Having a legal system with such flexibility enables us to provide innovative structures to meet the needs of companies,” says Dr. Steve Fanny, Chief Executive Officer of Financial Services Authority, the regulatory body for non-bank financial services in Seychelles.
Fanny adds that Seychelles also enjoys low crime and unemployment, and a literacy rate of more than 95%. “In a nutshell, we have in place the necessary infrastructure for good economic development and growth. That is what differentiates the Seychelles from other jurisdictions,” he says.
Gateway to Africa
Made up of 115 islands that lie 1,500 kilometers east of mainland Africa in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is ideally positioned as a gateway for international investors into the fast-growing economies of the African continent. In particular, there has been growing interest from Chinese investors in recent years to use the Seychelles as a jurisdiction to expand into Africa.
Seychelles has had a long relationship with China; the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1976. “Our relationship with China has grown over the years and the two countries have one of the best double taxation agreements. Seychelles is also supporting China with the Belt and Road initiative,” says Fanny.
Seychelles provides companies and investors with a wide range of entity structures to meet their various needs. For instance, the International Business Company (IBC) is a simple and flexible structure that is ideal for any business, from personal services companies to collective investment schemes operating locally or internationally. Another structure, the Company (Special Licence), or CSL, is a Seychelles domestic company that is allowed to conduct business both internationally and within Seychelles. Both IBCs and CSLs are not subject to Seychelles’ tax or duty on income or profits if they do not derive assessable income in the country.
For investors looking for asset protection, Seychelles offers trust and foundation structures that appoint a trustee/council to manage assets on behalf of the beneficiaries. There are also a host of fund structures that create pools of funds for specific investments.
In the face of a fast-evolving global landscape, Seychelles is designing new products to meet the changing needs of businesses
around the world. The jurisdiction will soon publish a set of regulations for a regulatory sandbox to accommodate the increasingly
important financial technology (fintech) sector. The sandbox will provide a regulated environment that will allow fintech companies in the capital market space to carry out live testing of their innovative products or services. There has been marked interest from several large fintech companies to participate in this initiative. Says Fanny,“Fintech is a fast-growing industry and we are seeing many players coming to Seychelles.”