As a country that officially announced it’s OECD co-operation, over the last couple of decades, Belize has emerged as a front-runner for those seeking offshore banking and investing opportunities. From individuals to business owners, the country has created a setting that promises to remain attractive in the years to come. 

Luigi Wewege, the Senior Vice President and Head of Private Banking for Caye International Bank, shared some thoughts on where the country has been, what it’s doing now, and why it will remain attractive for those seeking to build wealth offshore.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Belize consistently places on the Top 10 lists of the best location for offshore accounts. What do you think are the primary reasons for this?

Comparing and contrasting some of the differences with other options yields three reasons that affect where people choose to bank. One has to do with the tax structure in Belize. Simply put, there’s a zero-tax rate on deposits in many personal and business accounts. That one factor separates Belize from many other offshore locations. 

Regulatory concerns, especially as they relate to the European Union, also cause some people to balk. This is especially true with business owners who would otherwise consider setting up accounts in Switzerland or Cyprus. The value-added tax (VAT) imposition motivates those with business interests to seek a more favorable climate, like the one in Belize. Political unrest is another contributing factor. When you think about locations in the Caribbean, Middle East or Southern Africa, the ongoing tensions will cause some customers to look for countries that offer more stability. Belize certainly provides that sort of setting.

Q: There’s industry talk of the potential negative impact of increased scrutiny of OECD members. Do you think this will affect the increasing popularity of Belize as a location for offshore banking?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has been around since 1961. It has proven to be true to its mission: stimulating better economic policies that translate into better lives. Success of that caliber is bound to attract attention and increase the call for deeper scrutiny. In terms of how it will impact Belize, I don’t believe it will harm us at all. It may even help. Foreign investors rightfully want to position their resources, so there’s a cushion. Since Belize offers incentives and low to zero taxes on deposits, the country can compete to help build that cushion. The fact that Belize is the 86th jurisdiction to sign the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent BEPS also bolsters that ability. As Belize and other OECD members are proud of our policies and procedures, let the scrutiny take place. Depositors are smart enough to see the value of banking in Belize and will continue to do so.

Q. Some think that offshore accounts are for the ultra-wealthy alone. How would you approach someone who has this type of perception?

When this topic arises, I tend to point out that we offer personal and business accounts designed to accommodate a wide range of starting balances and situations. Some people are surprised to learn how low some of those balances are in comparison to other nations. The result is that someone who would be considered a middle-class earner in a western setting can benefit from opening and growing the balances in offshore accounts based in Belize. Delving deeper into the benefits of each account type also helps to dispel this perception. When it’s clear that just about anyone can enjoy the advantages of offshore savings and other accounts, people tend to get excited and start thinking about their futures. We want to inspire that type of thinking.

Q. Can you provide an example of the typical offshore customer who chooses to set up bank accounts in Belize?

Our commitment to privacy in banking matters makes it impossible to provide specifics. Let’s just say that Belize attracts individuals and business owners from across the globe. Our customers are dedicated to following the banking laws found in their own countries while enjoying the benefits that offshore banking in Belize offers. They’re honest in their dealings while also understanding the value of arranging their finances to the best advantage. Being mindful of potential issues related to the economy, political policies, and even natural disasters also makes them a group that’s somewhat more financially savvy.

Q. Do you believe that the government of Belize is doing a good job of encouraging foreign business ownership and investment? Would you cite some examples of what is being done on these fronts?

Absolutely, the government in Belize has created a welcoming environment for bank customers of all types. It’s not only the zero-tax benefit. The government has offered incentives for more than two decades that are specifically designed to attract foreign investment. Among the benefits currently offered are no regulations that inhibit the exchange control of account balances. Unlike some other jurisdictions, those who choose to establish offshore accounts here are free to deposit and withdraw funds at any time. Withdrawals are just as simple as making deposits, something that’s not true everywhere. Asset protection is another area where the government has taken care to excel. Utilizing current banking laws and structures like trusts and IBCs provide ample protection from many types of legal issues, including events like divorces and judgments. In terms of financial security, this motivates many people to consider Belize for their offshore accounts.

Q. How would you rate Caye International Bank in terms of services offered to offshore customers? Why choose to bank with Caye rather than banks in other nations?

Caye started as a mortgage lender and grew into a full-service international bank. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished since 2003. That includes the level of personal service we provide to our clientele. We don’t think it’s enough to offer account options that are designed for building wealth. Our purpose is to help people reach the goals they’ve set for themselves in life. Whether that’s creating a nest egg for retirement, setting aside money for college educations, or looking for the perfect setting to spend the retirement years, we want to help. To that end, our team members make themselves available to offer answers when people have questions. The Caye team understands that offshore banking may be new to some of those who approach us. We take the time to explain how the accounts work in terms they can understand. Not all banks do that. We also keep customers up to date on upcoming changes and what they mean for them. That is another area where banks in some other nations tend to lag behind us. In short, we’re invested in making sure every depositor is happy with what we offer and provide support to help them in any way possible.

Q. With the world working to move past the pandemic, what do you envision as the future of offshore banking in Belize?

We’ve certainly felt the impact of the pandemic in Belize, economic and otherwise. Even so, we’ve managed better than some other areas of the world. Part of the credit for that goes to the forward-thinking attitude about all things financial that’s part of our way of doing things. We know that the country and our economy will thrive as the pandemic becomes history. Belize is well poised to continue growing as a force in the world of offshore banking and investment. The laws continue to be refined to keep the nation at the forefront of ethical and effective banking solutions. A welcoming culture in general and the fact that banking officials and personnel in this country know the industry inside and out also helps engender confidence. We have no doubt that as more people discover Belize, our share of the market will keep increasing.

Q. Do you have any parting thoughts to leave with our readers?

Anyone who has not taken a closer look at Belize for offshore banking opportunities is encouraged to do so. Many people approach us with only partial knowledge of what we can do for them. It’s only after talking with our representatives that they begin to get a broader picture of what a difference we can make for their financial futures.

More about Luigi Wewege:

Along with his responsibilities at Caye International Bank, Wewege is also the author of “The Digital Banking Revolution.” He’s also a regular contributor to the Insights section found on Caye Bank’s website. Readers can also find Luigi Wewege on Twitter and LinkedIn, sharing more information about banking and investment in an offshore environment.