7 January 2004

ACORN: Anguilla’s Commercial Online Registration Network: Embracing Technology to Facilitate Efficiency in the Global Economy

In 1995, the Government of Anguilla took the decision to develop the financial services sector as a means of strengthening and diversifying the overall economic base and to provide another employment source for Anguillians many of whom were obtaining university educations
Anguilla Wealth Management
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Economic, Political & Social Stability

British Overseas Territory

No foreign exchange restrictions Common law legal system

In 1995, the Government of Anguilla took the decision to develop the financial services sector as a means of strengthening and diversifying the overall economic base and to provide another employment source for Anguillians many of whom were obtaining university educations. The island already possessed most of the characteristics, which are essential to an international financial services centre. These have assisted financial planners to put together legitimate structures requiring a zero tax jurisdiction.

The British and Anguilla Governments jointly embarked on a progressive programme to launch Anguilla as an upmarket, well-regulated and exclusive financial services centre.

The significant growth in government revenues earned from the financial services sector over the last few years is a testament to the success of the policies to date. There are ambitious plans for the future and within the past few years Anguilla has made significant strides in its efforts to position itself as a major player in the international financial services arena.

Instant Incorporation On-line

Technologically advanced

Efficient, Multi-lingual and User Friendly

ACORN (Anguilla Commercial Online Registration Network) is the world’s first completely electronic online company registry system. It was developed in Anguilla with financial assistance from the UK Government and technical assistance from Companies House UK, an Executive Agency of The Department of Trade and Industry.

ACORN allows for the instant electronic incorporation and registration of Anguilla Ordinary Companies, International Business Companies, Limited Liability Companies, and Limited Partnerships. The Companies Registry Ordinance, enacted in 1998, provides the practical legal framework for ACORN’s operation by enabling the filing of documents in electronic form and the recognition of electronic signatures.

Since 1998, ACORN has been a true demonstration of technology at its best. ACORN has effectively done away with paper, in that it allows authorized users to file company documents electronically from anywhere in the world, across time zones, 365 days a year, 24/7. The time it takes to complete these filings through ACORN is absolutely phenomenal. Incorporation will take all of three minutes to complete, with the agent receiving instantly an emailed copy of the certificate and articles of incorporation (original documents are collected and forwarded by the local registered agent).

Well Regulated

  • Excellent company law and other financial services legislation
  • Well regulated financial services industry

Anguilla is one of Britain’s Overseas Territories in the Caribbean. Although essentially self-governing, the Governor appointed by Her Majesty’s Government is responsible under the present constitution for foreign affairs, defence, internal security and international financial services. Day to day operations of the financial services sector are in the purview of the Minister for Finance, Economic Development, Investment and Commerce and administered by the Financial Services Department.

In carrying out its functions and in considering applications by organisations wishing to establish businesses within the sector, the Department adopts a firm but flexible regulatory approach. This is reflected in the establishment of the Money Laundering Reporting Authority (MLRA) an inter-governmental committee responsible for monitoring and reporting suspicious activities such as terrorism financing and money laundering.

It is of paramount concern to the Government that Anguilla’s reputation not be tainted by the use of the jurisdiction for money laundering, terrorism financing or other illegal purposes. For this reason, all licensed institutions are expected to carry out proper due diligence and "know your customer" checks so that they are satisfied as to the identity of their clients and legitimate origin of their clients’ funds.

Although commercial confidentiality is ensured by legislation, the authorities in Anguilla cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies and regulators in other jurisdictions. In common with other reputable jurisdictions, the Financial Services Department is subject to safeguards to protect legitimate business, and is able to share regulatory information with overseas regulatory authorities.

Innovative Legislation

  • Trust Companies & Offshore Banking Act 2000
  • Company Management Act 2000
  • Confidential Relationships Ordinance 1981
  • Companies Act 2000
  • International Business Companies Act 2000
  • Limited Liability Company Act 2000
  • Limited Partnership Act 2000
  • Trusts Ordinance 1994
  • Trademarks Act 2002
  • Intellectual Property legislation 2002

When options for upgrading Anguilla’s financial services legislation were being considered, the decision was made to replace, rather than amend, the existing legislation with a wide range of specially developed Acts. Since 1995, Anguilla has had the benefit of a comprehensive, well integrated and cohesive package of financial services legislation.

The legislation is designed to afford flexibility to practitioners and contains many innovative provisions. For example, the Trusts Ordinance abolishes the Rule against Perpetuities and permits accumulation of income throughout the entire term of the trust. In line with modern developments in trust law, purpose trusts are permitted and the concept of a protector has been introduced. Asset protection trusts and forced heirship are also catered for in the legislation.

The need to develop legislation is well understood. Government and the private sector cooperate through an active joint legislation committee which monitors legislative developments internationally, examines new financial products and provides a focus for proposals to amend existing legislation. As a result, the legislation has already been developed further and improved in both 1998 and 2000.

Embracing technology to facilitate efficiency

Constantly upgrading and enhancing to meet the needs of the offshore industry. In 2002 ACORN was given the ability to incorporate electronically companies with Chinese characters symbolizing the name. These companies, as is the case with all foreign named companies, also provide an English equivalent of the Chinese symbols, which is recorded on the Certificate of Incorporation. This facility also allows agents to incorporate Chinese named companies instantly without the need for additional verification of the English equivalent of the Chinese symbols.

Incorporations with Chinese character names are reviewed at the Registry and both the Chinese and the English name equivalent are recorded on the register to ensure no duplication of name in either language. Anguilla now boasts the ability to register companies in six languages, namely English, French, Spanish, Russian, German and Chinese. While this approach to registering Chinese companies is quite novel, the avoidance of duplicate English equivalent names on these type of companies provides Anguilla with an enhanced regulatory oversight of these companies.

To facilitate the banking community, a company status search and a name availability search portal has been placed on our public website this again demonstrates Anguilla’s commitment to maintaining a well-regulated jurisdiction while remaining at the forefront of technological advancement.

Red Carpet Service

  • Easy air access,
  • Multi-year work permits,
  • Enterprising people
  • Zero tax status

The Hon Victor F. Banks oversees the development of Anguilla’s growing financial services sector - a sector that has a growth rate of 25-30% each year. In a recent address he noted: "As a growing financial centre, Anguilla has two primary objectives, namely, to attract legitimate business and to provide quality service. We will achieve this by embracing technology to facilitate efficiency and accountability in the new global economy. The liberalisation of the telecommunications system, zero tax-status, multi-year work permits and incentive programmes to encourage the youth of Anguilla to pursue studies and careers in the financial services sector are all part of our development strategy to reach our potential."

Mr. Victor Banks, further stated, "as an offshore financial service jurisdiction Anguilla offers a level of service, which is second to none. Anguilla offers Red Carpet Service, not Red Tape. The Govenment Anguilla is committed to the perpetuation of this quote while maintaining our reputation as a Well-regulated jurisdiction". As a testimony to the fulfillment of this quote the Government has committed to the establishment of an Independent Financial Services Commission.

"We invite you to our fountain to savour Anguilla’s waters as it is an opportunity to do business in an extremely pleasurable environment. Anguilla is definitely open for business and with its ability to adapt to new technology, enterprising and the highly qualified work force, Anguilla is the jurisdiction of choice for the 21st Century."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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