Offshore Banks in the Bahamas

A Guide to Offshore Banks in the Bahamas

Banking offshore has continued to rise over the past few years as entrepreneurs seek to diversify their risk and move assets away from greedy, tax-obsessed, western nations. However, there is a distinct lack of information and reviews on Offshore Banks in the Bahamas. Subsequently, I will do my best to highlight the main banking options for you to consider.
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Banking offshore has continued to rise over the past few years as entrepreneurs seek to diversify their risk and move assets away from greedy, tax-obsessed, western nations. However, there is a distinct lack of information and reviews on Offshore Banks in the Bahamas. Subsequently, I will do my best to highlight the main banking options for you to consider.

The Bahamas Offshore Private Banking System is a big industry and there is a myriad of banks available to satisfy all your typical needs. This guide will give you the primary Bahamian banking options and list the necessary account opening requirements as well as provide you with my recommendations!

Who Banks in the Bahamas?

Bahamas Offshore Banking Guide
Bahamian Offshore Banking and Services are a Major Contributor of GDP for the Bahamas

The Bahamas looms large as an offshore jurisdiction that you may not have come across unless you are involved in insurance and hedge fund operations. The island’s economy is highly dependent upon the offshore services sector with a strong focus on providing reinsurance and captive insurance operations as well as easy hedge fund formations.

Subsequently, the Bahamian economy is strongly reliant upon the offshore services sector and there are a plethora of experienced professionals supporting the operations of these companies. In short, it is a well-established and very reputable jurisdiction for offshore banking and business.

The typical banking client is normally a large U.S.-based insurer or a smaller FX-based hedge fund. They utilize the Bahamas due to its geographic location, close to the U.S., and its strong body of offshore-focused laws.

However, this isn’t to suggest that smaller players are not, or cannot, utilize offshore Bahamian banks in their pursuit of safety and privacy. The reality is that the island nation has become home to a significant amount of capital from smaller wealthy clients over the past few years.

On the banking front, most Bahamas-based banks provide full-service offerings to clients. Typically, they are able to offer a wide spectrum of financial services to satisfy almost any business requirement that you may have. In fact, amongst the smaller, island-based offshore jurisdictions, they are close to being the top options for banking, along with the Cayman Islands.

Ultimately, regardless of size, anyone can bank in the Bahamas with the peace of mind that you are dealing with a professional and stable offshore jurisdiction.

Is the Country Stable and is my Money Safe?

The Bahamas is a Stable and Safe Country
The Bahamas is Very Stable Which Explains its Prominence as a Cruising Destination

The Bahamas is an incredibly safe and stable country and the island nation used to be a Crown Colony until it received its independence in 1973. Subsequently, it retains all the best features of English common law whilst retaining sovereignty over its islands.

Like all countries, the Bahamas has certainly had its political difficulties, but you are unlikely to see any major coups or political unrest. In the past, there have been allegations of corruption and connections with drug cartels, but this has remained largely unproven and would have almost no bearing on the offshore sector regardless.

Offshore banks in the Bahamas are regulated by the Central Bank of the Bahamas which maintains quite a strict oversight of their operations. In addition, there is a bank failure fund in place to compensate depositors in a comparable way to the FDIC in the U.S.

Ultimately, given the importance of the offshore sector, it is highly unlikely that the government would allow bank runs or failures to impact the cash cow that the industry represents. Additionally, the bank stability reports are regularly published, and Bahamian financial institutions stand up very well with their capitalization levels which is important to assess when looking to protect yourself from a bank bail-ins.

List of Major Offshore Banks and Account Requirements

UBS is one of the main Offshore Banks in the Bahamas
UBS and Other Major Banks are Well Represented in the Bahamas

UBS (Bahamas) Limited

http://www.ubs.com/bahamas

UBS is one of the heavyweights in global wealth management and their Bahamas charter provides for some unique products. However, their focus is really on wealth management products and transactional banking accounts are a very distant priority. Additionally, expect to require a significant deposit to even have UBS review your wealth management application.

You will normally require the following documents:

  • Notarized Identity and Proof of Address
  • Source of funds declaration
  • FATCA form (If a U.S. Citizen)
  • Tax residency certification

Expect to need at least a US$500k minimum deposit and, additionally, your primary focus will need to be on wealth management products.

Ansbacher (Bahamas) Limited

https://www.ansbacher.bs/

Ansbacher are a full-service offshore bank that has a rich heritage and has been based in the Bahamas long term. They offer tailored private banking services including both fiduciary and family office solutions. The bank offers both transaction and deposit accounts as well as full wealth management and custody services.

Ansbacher will typically require either a personal visit or online video appointment to consider your banking requirements with one of their relationship managers. Expect to be asked for the purpose of choosing the Bahamas to bank in and what your source of funds are. Additionally, they will also seek to undertake a check through various AML services to ascertain if you appear on any formal or informal banking blacklists.

You will normally require the following documents:

  • Notarized Identity and Proof of Address
  • Source of funds declaration
  • FATCA form (If a U.S. Citizen)
  • Tax information
  • CV

Citco Bank and Trust Company

http://www.citco.com

Citco is represented, not only within the Bahamas but also in many other offshore jurisdictions. They offer, primarily, asset protection and wealth management services but also banking and transactional services. They are particularly good at FX and Trade execution and have provided me with some excellent rates in the past.

Although their operations are more focused on trust, and custody operations, they still provide reliable transactional banking services. I’ve also found their onboarding processes very seamless and easy to work with.

You will normally require the following documents:

  • Notarized Identity and Proof of Address
  • Source of funds declaration
  • FATCA form (If a U.S. Citizen)
  • Tax information

Corner Bank (Overseas) Limited

Corner Bank is a third-generation, family-operated, company and its genesis came from Switzerland in 1952. The bank is a full-service provider and, through their Nassau operation, offer both wealth management and private banking services. Through their Corner Trader service, they also offer FX margin, stocks, and CFD products for trading.

The normal account opening documentation is typically required. However, note that Corner Bank is typically quite selective over which clients they will onboard, and you may need to demonstrate significant funding levels to secure an account.

You will normally require the following documents:

  • Notarized Identity and Proof of Address
  • Source of funds declaration
  • FATCA form (If a U.S. Citizen)
  • Tax information
  • CV and background information

Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch

https://www.lombardodier.com/nassau

Lombard Odier is, primarily, known for its Swiss and Liechtenstein banking presences and its long history of private banking. However, they also have a charter in the Bahamas of which their main focus is upon trust and fiduciary operations. Although they are setup for private banking, if you are seeking pure transactional accounts your best bet would be one of the other Odier jurisdictions.

However, their private wealth and trust services are excellent, and they can do everything from forming the trust to acting as trustee and fiduciary on the behalf of beneficiaries.

Expect to need a significant deposit for them to entertain an account opening for you.

Credit Suisse (Bahamas) Limited

https://www.credit-suisse.com/bs/en.html

Credit Suisse is probably one of the biggest boys on the block for private banking and wealth management in the Bahamas. They maintain a large presence and offer a full-service banking and wealth management experience. Similar in scope to UBS, they can be quite picky on which clients they choose to deal with. Subsequently, if your wealth primarily comes from crypto-related offerings, or other grey zone business, then you may be best advised to seek other alternatives.

The Winterbotham Trust Company

https://www.winterbotham.com/

The Winterbotham Trust is a well-established, and licensed, trust and banking operation based in the Bahamas (as well as other jurisdictions). Their primary business focus is on fund management and treasury operations, but they also offer banking services through their merchant bank. Unfortunately, this banking service largely focuses upon cash management services for business and not on individual private banking.

If you are looking to establish corporate banking facilities and expect to have a large volume of FX related transactions, then the Winterbotham Trust is well established to provide you this service.

My Recommendations for Offshore Banks in the Bahamas

citco bank provides great offshore banking in the bahamas
Citco is my Typical Recommendation for Banking within the Bahamas

Choosing a bank really depends upon your specific use case and service needs. If you are seeking private banking for an individual account, with wealth management in the mix, then I would recommend approaching Citco as their ease of account opening and flexible services typically fit the bill.

However, if you have significant funds to expatriate to the Bahamas, and are looking for a full service, managed operation, then Credit Suisse or UBS is where I would normally direct you to go. However, due to previous AML issues, be aware that you will be seriously questioned on your need and reasons for establishing the banking facility.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you are seeking to achieve with your Bahamas-based bank facility. The island is very handy for certain industries such as insurance, and fund management, but if you are solely seeking privacy then I would recommend looking at alternatives.

Alternatives to Using Offshore Banks in the Bahamas

As mentioned, unless you fit one of the main use cases for domiciling or banking in the Bahamas, there are more flexible options to consider. In particular, the Cayman Islands provides some excellent banking options and significantly lower initial deposit limits. Typically, Cayman banks provide all the same services that you can receive in the Bahamas but under a slightly more flexible system.

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