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Belize: New Accounting Records and Retention Law

Under pressure from the OECD and related international bodies, Belize has now adopted an Accounting Records (Maintenance) Act. The requirements of this law are similar to that imposed under similar pressures by recent legislation in other offshore jurisdictions , such as the BVI and Seychelles. Other offshore jurisdictions which have not yet enacted similar legislation can be expected to do so in the future.

This new legislation ensures that Belize to maintain its excellent reputation as a responsible offshore financial centre. This reputation benefits all stake holders – end users of Belize financial services, professional intermediaries and Belize Registered Agents.

The new Act that accounting records be maintained by any Belize entity (company, trust, LLC, LLP, etc) and retained for a period of not less than five years following the closure of an account, or the end of a transaction, or the termination of a business relationship, whether such relationship is a one-off, regular, or habitual relationship. The law gives three option for where the accounting records must be kept:

               • If the company has a registered office in Belize, then the records may be kept at this office. (This would be the case a Belize based company, which is also required to follow the same legislation);  OR

               • The records may be kept at the office of its Registered Agent in Belize;  OR

               • The records may be kept “at such other place within or outside Belize as may be determined by its directors or other competent persons.”

 Clearly the third of these options will be the one preferred by most Belize entities associated with non-Belize clients. If this third choice is made, the law also requires the Registered Agent to have in its files the location of the accounting records and further that, if the location of these records changes, then it requires that the Registered Agent be notified of the new location of the accounting records within fourteen (14) days of their relocation.

In accordance with this change on the laws of Belize, as a responsible service provider, we now require that you, as our professional client, confirm that each of your end user clients understand and accept this requirement for each and every Belize entity; this means that:

               • they understand that they must maintain accounting records and retain those records for a minimum of five (5) years and that they will do so, and

               • that they will advise us of the location at which such records are kept (and should the records be moved, advise us within 14 days of the new location).

Where the records are kept in electronic format, as will often be the case, the address provided should be the address at which the accounting records are commonly used and updated, even if the physical data resides elsewhere on a remote server.

Once you have advised your clients of these changes and they have acknowledged and accepted them, we will need you to advise us of the location of the required accounting records for each entity. In an effort to simplify the process of adopting the necessary resolutions to maintain and retain accounting records and otherwise comply with the new law. Resolutions are provided both for single director companies and multiple director companies. You may customize these as you wish or the clients may provide their own, but whatever resolution is used it should make clear that the company will comply with the requirements of the Accounting Records (Maintenance) Act.

We do not anticipate any sudden request to produce records of course, nor do we expect there to be more than a very few requests. However, where accounting information is requested by a competent Belize authority the law requires that we be able to produce the accounting records described by the Act in a timely manner. We, as Registered Agent, are subject to a fine of a maximum of $10,000, for each occurrence, where the records are not produced.  So you will understand that we respectfully request your sincere assistance in complying with this new law.

 We trust this summarizes the new requirements effectively, but should you have any further questions or if any points need further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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