The “sister isles” of St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean have recently acquired a reputation amongst crypto investors as the “go-to” jurisdiction. They offer crypto-friendly asset protection, banking, and citizenship by investment. Is everything as good as it looks?
Let’s, first of all, clear up some confusion: the twin-island nation is a federation of two states, each with its own distinct character, linked by charming little ferries and private water taxis:
St Kitts, also known as St Christopher, is the bigger island. It’s a hangout of choice for some early bitcoin adopters and is known for its year-round party atmosphere, fueled in part by a large international student community attending the offshore med and veterinary universities.
Nevis, the smaller island of the Federation, is discreet in all respects. It’s a place where celebrities and even British royalty like to hang out because they won’t be noticed. And it’s a very low profile but successful money haven. Nevis entered the offshore finance business in the 1980s. Asset protection experts worldwide learn at law school that there are two places in the world with strong asset protection legislation and respect for personal property: Nevis and the Cook Islands.
Nevis has its own offshore finance legislation and doesn’t answer to the Federal government in St Kitts (like Wyoming and Delaware don’t answer to Washington DC on trust matters).
However, when it comes to foreign affairs, that is a federal matter. Neither St Kitts nor Nevis issue passports. There is only the one, blue “St Kitts and Nevis” passport. Rather like Wyoming and Delaware don’t issue their own passports. These days the St Kitts and Nevis passport competes strongly with the blue US passport on the number of visa-free travel destinations.
Banking in St Kitts and Nevis
What about banking in St Kitts and Nevis? As it happens, St Kitts is home to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). ECCB is in charge of the local currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar or XCD. This is the official currency not just in the country, but across the region.
You might say, then, the ECCB in St Kitts is like a miniature version of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt – controlling the monetary policy of various countries within a currency union. The Eastern Caribbean Currency Union covers the independent states of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines together with two British territories: Anguilla and Montserrat.
The ECCB, from its headquarters building near the airport in St Kitts, regulates local banking across all those countries. Local banking has traditionally been dominated by Canadian financial institutions, although this spectrum has changed in recent years.
None of this, however, concerns crypto investors seeking asset protection. They will be better served by the “offshore” or international private banks. Here, we come full circle: we return to local regulation. Offshore banks in Nevis, for example, have nothing to do with St Kitts!
Does any of this matter? Perhaps not, but few people seem to understand the intricacies of this regulatory environment and there is a lot of misinformation on the internet, so we thought it worthwhile to explain it.
From a practical point of view, international banks don’t get involved in local retail banking. And while there are no international banks on St Kitts, there are 3 international banks licensed on Nevis. Although they are open to international commercial accounts, probably their most important business line these days is private offshore banking services to international investors – many of whom have obtained citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis under the Citizenship by Investment Program.
We’ve found that international banks in Nevis are crypto literate. They have no problems receiving properly documented fiat funds from reputable crypto exchanges, or crypto friendly banks in the US such as Signature Bank. They are also active in the escrow business, facilitating investments in real estate, stocks and shares and donations to the St Kitts and Nevis Sustainable Growth Fund. They do have local operating privileges for paying the St Kitts and Nevis government accounts held at the National Bank (SKNA National Bank).
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This in turn makes for a very attractive combo:
ASSET PROTECTION TRUST AND LLC: The Nevis Exempt Trust and LLC combo is probably the strongest asset protection structure in the world. A Nevis trust may own one or more LLCs. Generally, the LLC is the visible operating arm whose name appears on the bank accounts. There is no public register of shareholders or ultimate beneficial owners in Nevis. The Exempt Trust, meanwhile, stays hidden and protected in the background, covering your succession planning needs and protecting your crypto, fiat, and real estate assets from prying eyes.
OFFSHORE PRIVATE BANK ACCOUNT: The Nevis Exempt Trust and LLC structure can open bank accounts worldwide: popular jurisdictions include Switzerland, USA, Singapore, etc. Since the documentation is in English and based on the familiar common law system, it is relatively easy to open accounts worldwide. They can also open accounts on exchanges, like Binance or Interactive Brokers. What better, though, than a crypto-friendly bank account right in the same jurisdiction – Nevis?
CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT: A new passport is the ultimate “Plan B.” It will continue to offer benefits for the rest of your life – and literally beyond: you can pass these benefits to your children and grandchildren. As a new citizen of the Federation, you are of course fully entitled to take up fiscal residence immediately in St Kitts or Nevis. Doubly so if you own real estate, that you can easily pay for in crypto! By arranging your residence properly, you legally avoid, at the stroke of a pen, any reporting to your home country. The only exception is if you are a citizen or resident of the USA – but even here, there are benefits to be had.
It’s worth pointing out that this strong crypto asset protection combo is fully compliant with both local laws and international norms. Just last year, the European Union and the OECD/FATF gave St Kitts and Nevis a clean bill of health as a compliant jurisdiction, while castigating Dominica. Even the United States has grudgingly accepted that Citizenship by Investment benefits the region and its people, contributing to peace, stability, prosperity and development. As long as bad apples don’t slip through the due diligence nets, the major powers are happy.
If you would like to start getting set up with part or all of this powerful offshore asset protection, banking and citizenship combo in St Kitts and Nevis, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced team. They can get you on the fast track to a Zoom meeting with local on-island business and investment leaders.
Freedom, and the other benefits of having a second passport, are simply returns on the financial investment you make in a new “offshore” citizenship. If you look at it this way, a new citizenship by investment can provide returns on investment for the whole of your life… and beyond, since your children and grandchildren can inherit these benefits.