Surety Bank & Trust is a full service Bank & Trust Company. In the past, Surety catered to a few select, very wealthy customers who sought total service and complete confidentiality. Now, Surety Bank and Trust is expanding its market to include substantial investors whose goals are asset protection.

Surety Bank and Trust provides managed programmes that help investors protect their assets through trusts. In this capacity, Surety provides asset protection trust work, demand and corporate account services, and other custodial work all without US affiliation. The Surety staff is composed of highly professional bankers who are skilled in matters pertaining to asset protection in the Bahamas.

Besides protective laws, the Bahamas offers certain tax advantages. There are no tax treaties between the Bahamas and any foreign jurisdiction, and the Bahamas is not party to any fiscal information sharing agreements with any other country.

The Bahamas has no personal or corporate income tax, no capital gains tax, no withholding tax, no business estate, gift, inheritance, employment or sales tax and no death duties. Strict statutory bank secrecy laws protect any financial transaction in the Bahamas.

To further protect your assets, many asset protection trusts include anti-duress language. This prevents the trustee from acting in response to any request or advice given by you under duress. In other words, you comply with a court order compelling you to issue instructions or advice to the trustee, but the trustee is not bound to follow such instruction or advice.

All of these special measures have been instituted to protect you and your trust fund from fraudulent creditors.

Surety's unrestricted licence ensures that operations are efficient and secure, and customers can be assured that any banking need can be accommodated on site. Add to this the stability of the Bahamian banking environment and the privacy it affords and Surety Bank and Trust becomes the client's best solution to the asset protection challenge.

One way to protect your assets is by establishing an asset protection trust. This is created when a person called the settlor, transfers assets to a non-US or non-Canadian trustee, in this case, Surety Bank and Trust in the Bahamas. The assets become the legal property of the trustee, although the beneficiaries can be whosoever the settlor designates. Assets may be retained in the trust or distributed over time. By initiating an asset protection trust, settlors can protect their assets.

Because the trustee (Surety Bank and Trust) is Bahamian, investors are offered unparalleled privacy, a high level of asset protection, and in some cases decreased tax liability. More specifically, Bahamian privacy laws may protect assets from government seizure, litigation awards and some taxation.

Legislation passed to aid asset protection includes the Fraudulent Dispositions Act, 1991. This legislation is designed to protect a trust holder against further illegitimate claims by creditors. Under the Act, the burden of proof falls on the creditor who has two years to challenge the trust. In addition, the Government of the Bahamas has passed the Choice of Governing Laws Act in 1989. By this Act, judgement against you in any American court cannot be enforced against your Bahamian trust. The creditors must initiate independent proceedings in the Bahamian court system.

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.

This article also appears in the 'International Offshore and Financial Centres Handbook 1999/2000'. For further information about this highly informative guide to offshore centres, or to order your copy, please phone +44 (0) 207 820 7733 or send an email to