Belize, a Popular Offshore Option for Forex Traders – Read our Guide to IFSC Forex Brokers
Belize may not be the first country which pops into your thoughts when considering Forex trading. It is, however, becoming a very popular country for Forex brokers looking to set up a business. There are a number of reasons it has become a popular offshore location for brokerage firms. It is quite simple to form a shell company in Belize as there are no requirements for companies to be based in the country. Forex brokers who choose to set up operations in Belize can also enjoy certain tax benefits. For example, they will not have to pay any taxes on earnings made outside of the country. Belize also has some very strict secrecy laws, which make it nigh on impossible for governments and researchers to uncover the owners and shareholders of a company.
But what about the regulation of Forex brokers in Belize?
Financial regulation in Belize is undertaken by the International Financial Services Commission. All market participants and exchanges are regulated by the IFSC, and it is also responsible for setting and enforcing financial market regulations. As well as being responsible for IFSC regulated brokers it is in charge of:
- Promoting, protecting and enhancing the country as an international financial services center
- Regulating the provision of international financial services
- Issuing operating licenses to brokerage firms, brokers, and other financial service providers
- Supervising and controlling Licensed Investment Services Companies, mutual fund management companies, and investment consultants
- Imposing disciplinary penalties and administrative sanctions on any financial providers who fail to follow the rules
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Forex brokers in Belize and regulation from the IFSC
Financial services provided in Belize are regulated by the IFSC, International Financial Services Commission. A large number of companies have looked to Belize for setting up a brokerage business, because the cost of incorporating and becoming regulated is very reasonable when compared with other countries. It has also been said that regulation in Belize is a little on the soft side, with the requirements for IFSC regulated brokers being fairly limited. Many experts are also commenting on the basic requirements of MiFID and casting a similar note of disappointment, with the requirements in Belize being cited as being much lower. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to choose a top regulated broker and having a broker with at the very least a recognizable license is better than choosing one that is completely unregulated. Regulated Forex brokers in Belize do, however, offer investors a certain amount of protection and a certain level of accountability is expected. Further requirements include:
- The need for a reasonable level of unimpaired capital. Originally, this was at least $100,000, but has recently been increased by the IFSC to $500,000
- Segregated accounts must be used for client funds
- Monthly reports have to be submitted to the IFSC and they have to include details such as number and volume of trades and unimpaired capital
- Clients of IFSC regulated brokers have to be given monthly statements
- Must show itself capable of dealing with customer complaints
While the IFSC receives a lot of criticism for its soft approach to financial market regulation, we have recently read it is prepared to change its tactics and beef up the regulations.
The IFSC and recent changes to Forex regulations
As with many other regulatory bodies and the regulation of market trading firms the IFSC regularly assesses the usefulness and effectiveness of its rules. Recently, there as been an update and a number of changes have been made regarding fee requirements and capital requirements. These welcome changes should add a little more protection for Forex traders in Belize. Compared with a number of other regulators providers of financial services in Belize were able to enjoy low capital requirements and very slack licensing fees. A new agenda has recently been outlined by the IFSC and regulated entities now have to pay double the licensing fee from previously. $1,000 must now accompany new applications and this fee is non-refundable. There has also been a significant increase in annual licensing fees from $5,000 to $25,000. IFSC regulated Forex brokers and those offering commodity-based derivative instruments and other securities have now had a minimum capital requirement of $500,000 imposed.
How to check the details of IFSC regulated brokers
The IFSC regularly updates its list of licensed service providers and it is easily accessible for consumers on the IFSC website. The advice given by the IFSC is to not deal with any entity if its name does not appear on its website. You should also check the provider’s license covers the service you will be using them for, as a separate license is required in Belize for each kind of service or activity. Those of you looking for licensed and regulated Forex brokers in Belize will be most interested in List J, which relates to licensed service providers for trading in foreign exchange services. It is advisable to check any regulation information a broker may provide on their website. There are regular cases of brokers providing false or misleading information. It may state a broker is licensed by the IFSC but you would be advised to check this information is true. It is also possible to check a list of warning notices which have been issued by the IFSC.
Does a Belize regulated broker offer as much protection for traders?
Belize has become a popular location for brokers who prefer a favorable jurisdiction. Its status as a tax haven and the relatively lax regulatory framework have made it easy for brokers to obtain a license and run a business from Belize. While Belize is known for having a light touch with regards to financial market regulation, it is nevertheless better than a number of other offshore jurisdictions. We should, however, point out there are a number of other regulatory bodies which offer far more protection. So remember to take this into account when considering a Forex broker in Belize.