Much of my offshore asset protection work involves legal entities in the island of Nevis, West Indies. Nevis has the best foreign limited liability company statute, and its offshore trust laws are considered among the best offered by foreign jurisdictions. Many of my clients who have used Nevis legal entities know little or nothing about this small country. This past week I made my first trip to Nevis to learn more about this island. Here are some things I learned about Nevis:
The correct pronunciation emphasizes the “e”: The country is called “knee-vis” , not “neh-vis”
Charlestown , the capital of Nevis, is the only city on the island and it is very small. Charlestown is about three blocks long and two blocks wide. Nevis probably has a government and a judicial system, but I walked all around Charlestown and saw no government buildings. I could not find the courthouse.
Nevis has one national bank called the Bank of Nevis. I went inside the lobby where I saw many people lined up to do banking transactions. The lobby is very small and not air-conditioned. The bank has recently appointed an English banker to handle offshore accounts. His office is in a separate building, and this office is air-conditioned.
There is one two-lane highway which circles the island. All other roads are in horrible repair, filled with potholes.
I presume the national symbol of Nevis is the goat. There are wild goats everywhere. There are goats along the side of most roads; there are goats in the middle of the smaller roads; goats roam people’s yards. I heard there are more monkeys than goats, but the monkeys stay in the forest.
There are fantastic places to stay in Nevis. There is a Four Seasons resort, and there are old plantations converted into resorts even more luxurious than the Four Seasons.
In addition to the nice vacation resorts there seems to be a small number (probably less than 50) very nice, modern homes. Everyone else is poor by U.S. standards.
The people of Nevis are extremely friendly and trustworthy. You feel very safe in Nevis.
Nevis opened a new airport in 2002. Its horrible. There is almost no air-conditioning. No food. The water fountain in the waiting area does not work. Security is not up to U.S. standards- one scanning machine and one security guard, and the guard was off talking to a friend when I got to the security machine.
All things considered I like Nevis, and I feel comfortable using the county in asset protection planning. Most importantly, if you decide to create a Nevis trust or a Nevis LLC and actually transfer money to offshore accounts under these Nevis entities you should first visit the island yourself, meet the people you’ll be doing business with, and make sure you too feel comfortable with a Nevis based plan.