Hot on the heels of the Companies and Limited Liability Company (Initial Coin Offering) Amendment Act 2018 (the “ICO Act”), which seeks to introduce a statutory framework for initial coin offerings (“ICOs”) and has now passed both the House of Assembly and the Senate, comes the tabling of the Digital Asset Business Act 2018 (the “DAB Act”).
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During April 2018, the Government of Bermuda tabled the Companies and Limited Liability Company (Initial Coin Offering) Amendment Act 2018 (the “ICO Act”), introducing a statutory framework for initial coin offerings (“ICOs”). By implementing this new legislation, the Bermuda Government is hoping to lay the foundation for the jurisdiction to become a leading global blockchain and ICO centre. The ICO Act regulates offerings of ‘digital assets’, which are meant to capture all of the various categories of digital coins and tokens (whether they be utility, securitized, equity or otherwise) being issued as ICOs and via token sales. The purpose of the ICO Act is to only regulate those ICOs and token sales which are public crowd funding or similar type projects. It is not intended to regulate either private sales or those which are engaged in the business of pure virtual currency issuances. Digital asset offerings will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of published regulations as well as ongoing supervision and compliance requirements, including AML/ATF.
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The recent Budget announcement by the Bermuda government included one significant policy proposal which has the power to provide a welcome stimulus to the Bermuda economy over the course of the coming years. The Premier, also Minister of Finance, David Burt, indicated that a relaxation of the business ownership ‘60:40 rule’ was to be implemented to boost investment by non-Bermudians.
For those not familiar with this rule, Bermuda companies fall into two principal categories:
(i) local companies, which are usually incorporated by Bermudians to trade primarily in Bermuda; and
(ii) exempted companies, which are usually incorporated by non-Bermudians for the purpose of conducting business outside of Bermuda.
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In December 2016, the legislature in Bermuda passed the Bribery Act 2016 (the “Act”) which came into force on 1 September 2017. The Act is based on the UK Bribery Act 2010.
In the past, there were several separate laws dealing with bribery and corruption offences in Bermuda, such as the Criminal Code 1907 (Section 111 Official Corruption and Section 112 Extortion By Public Officers), the Parliament Act 1957 and the Parliamentary Election Act 1978. But as of 1 September, we have one comprehensive statute that sets out bribery offences in Bermuda, including the offence of failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery, a strict liability offence for which the only defence is for a commercial organisation to demonstrate that it had ‘adequate procedures’ to prevent bribery.
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A new Progressive Labour Party Government signalled its intention to build “a better and fairer Bermuda” by “ensuring social mobility and removing social inequality” through economic growth when its legislative agenda for the forthcoming parliamentary year was unveiled in the Speech from the Throne delivered on the opening of Parliament on Friday the 8th of September following the party’s landslide election in July.
Describing Bermuda as the most expensive country to live in 2016, the new Government announced its priorities would be: reducing the cost of living; creating more jobs for Bermudians; and growing the Bermuda economy.
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