Changes in the laws in Belize
From now on, all companies from Belize which have issued bearer shares will have to keep those shares in Belize.
In accordance with the changes in the laws in Belize, from January 1st 2013 all bearer shares will have to be kept in the office of the registered agent in Belize.
In cases where the shares are not deposited with the registered agent by the deadline set by the registered agent, the registered agent will be required to resign by the law. This in turn will lead to the company automatically being struck off from the Register of International Business Companies, as having a registered agent is a legal requirement for all companies throughout their existence.
The changes refer exclusively to companies which have issued bearer shares, and companies with registered shares will not be affected.
There will be two possible courses of action for the owners of companies which have issued bearer shares: firstly, they may choose to have the bearer share certificates kept in Belize (which will undoubtedly lead to some restriction on the exercising of ownership rights), or, secondly, they may change their bearer shares to registered shares.
The changes in the law in Belize are merely another link in the chain of international events designed to limit the issue of bearer shares. In the face of pressure from the international organisations the offshore jurisdictions have been left with little choice but to toe the line, as they are forced by such bodies to ensure that the structuring of companies registered in “tax havens” is completely transparent, and that the owners and directors can be easily identified. As a result, some offshore jurisdictions, such as the Bahamas, renounced the use of bearer shares completely, while others (for example BVI and Belize) have introduced certain restrictions and limitations in the interest of keeping the possibility alive. There are still a few countries in the world where bearer shares are still possible (these include the Marshall Islands, Panama), but just about everyone involved in the provision of financial services agrees that it is merely a matter of time before changes will be made.
In this case, it is worth taking note of the changes and making provisions that will provide a long term solution to the question; the most simple solution is to change the bearer shares to registered shares, guaranteeing that from this point of view at least the shareholders will be left in peace in the future.