Although a recent newcomer to financial jurisdiction comparisons and not widely known, Gibraltar boasts a comprehensive range of attractions making it a competitive jurisdiction from which to base funds or investment management activities.
Gibraltar has strong links with the UK including common language, currency and basis of law. It is a convenient location with the EU time zone. Its legislation is published in English and drawing on UK company law, can provide for funds structured as open ended companies, unit trusts, or limited partnerships. Protected cell company legislation has also been adopted, permitting segregation of liabilities across sub funds within a single legal entity. It is common practice for investment firms to adopt InternationaI Financial Reporting Standards for accounting purposes, thereby matching EU standards of the larger EU jurisdictions.
As a niche jurisdiction, Gibraltar is better placed to service smaller start up funds that are difficult for larger jurisdictions to cater for. Its fast track, flexible legislation for Experienced Investor Funds, provides speed to market for approval in a matter of days. EIFs can operate for large hedge funds or specialise in boutique funds from as small as £5m. For control and oversight requirements, administration is currently restricted to local providers, but otherwise an open platform regime pertains, permitting flexibility of location of resources in respect of custody and investment management.
Gibraltar is also an attractive domicile for overseas funds looking to redomicile to an onshore jurisdiction with an appropriate level of regulation now being demanded by investors. Gibraltar has relatively low set up and operational costs compared to its peers, has a comprehensive existing infrastructure including experienced and highly qualified advisers and experts and audit and legal fees tend to be less than Dublin and Luxembourg equivalents.
Gibraltar is a member of the European Union by virtue of its relationship with the UK. As a member of the EU, Gibraltar benefits from full passporting rights in respect of insurance, investment services and in respect of investment funds under the UCITS directives.
Funds and other companies in Gibraltar benefit from a wide range of tax efficiencies.
- Funds are exempt from income tax on their profits.There is no withholding tax on interest or dividends paid to non-residents.
- There is no stamp duty or VAT on local services and supplies.
- There is no capital gains tax on any gains
- There are no inheritance or death taxes.
- There is no tax on dividends between Gibraltar Companies.
- Gibraltar does not currently have any double tax treaties in place. However, the EU parent / subsidiary directive applies.
- Where this has been enacted in other EU territories in relation to Gibraltar, i.e., Luxembourg, this means that any profits remitted to a Gibraltar
- Funds from a subsidiary company in that EU jurisdiction can be paid without further deduction of income taxes.
For all other companies, there is a flat rate of corporation tax of 10%. This makes Gibraltar highly competitive and which,together with the other benefits, makes it an increasingly attractive jurisdiction for investment companies and other financial professionals wishing to set up business.
However, far from being an offshore tax haven, Gibraltar is well placed with the OECD since it has focused on signing up with the principal countries of the OECD and having signed 20 tax information exchange agreements to date.
It has an excellent, internationally recognised regulatory regime in the Financial Services Commission (FSC), which has been established since 1989 and it is the single regulator for all investment business in Gibraltar. The FSC is modelled on UK FSA, but also benefits from the flexibility that a small jurisdiction brings, which facilitates a close and immediate liaison with the Regulator whenever the need arises.
Its regulatory regime is subject to regular reviews from international bodies, and it has received seals of approval for its regulatory regime from a range of international agencies, the IMF being just the latest. In the interests of transparency, all such findings are published on the FSC website. The FSC transposes all EU Directives into its local regulations; most
recently its regulations have been boosted by the implementation of the 3rd Directive on Anti Money Laundering and MiFID, with Solvency II currently being progressed.
The jurisdiction prides itself on being well regulated with a risk based supervision programme, but is also flexible in its approach. The FSC licenses all forms of investment companies, including banks, asset managers, investment advisors and fund administrators.