The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 small islands located in the Indian Ocean some 1,500 kms east of mainland Africa and to the northeast of Madagascar. It has a population of some 902,000, of which 80% live on the main island of Mahé, and the capital and largest city is Victoria. The Seychelles is a member of the African Union.
France ceded control to Britain in 1810 and the Seychelles became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903. Independence from Britain was granted in 1976. The Seychelles is now an independent democratic republic with a presidential style of government. The legislative body is the unicameral National Assembly, has a total of 34 members. The official languages are English, French and Seychellois Creole.
The legal system in Seychelles is derived from English Common Law, the civil law and the 1993 Constitution. Civil law is based on the French Napoleonic code but adapted for the Seychelles and referred to as the Civil Code of Seychelles. Both criminal and procedural law is largely based on British systems of law. Company law is derived from English Common Law. The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. The court system comprises of the magistrates’ court, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and the Court of Appeal.
In the early 1990’s the Seychelles launched a series of initiatives to establishing an international financial centre with legislation providing for the registration of companies, trusts and the licensing of international trade zone companies. Much of the legislation was based on that of the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. Additional legislation was introduced covering the licensing of banks, insurance companies and the establishment of a securities industry; and in 2003, the government legislated for additional types of company: Special Licence Companies, Protected Cell Companies and Limited Partnerships.
The Ministry of Finance is responsible for economic decisions and budgetary policy. A Central Bank supervises the banking system and manages the money supply. The rupee is the currency of the Seychelles. Prior to November 2008, the Seychelles Rupee was pegged to the US dollar at a rate of USD1 to SR5.5. A freely floating exchange rate system is now in place. All foreign exchange controls were also removed in 2008 and foreign investors are free to repatriate their profits and other incomes.
The Seychelles Financial Services Authority (FSA) is the regulator for non-banking financial services in the Seychelles. Established under the Financial Services Authority Act, 2013, the FSA is responsible for the licensing, supervision and development of the non-bank financial services industry in the Seychelles. The Authority is also responsible for the registration of International Business Companies, Foundations, Limited Partnerships and International Trusts in the Seychelles. The Seychelles had its first Securities Exchange licensed in late 2012 called Trop-X.
The Seychelles has territorial taxation such that only locally-sourced income is taxed. There is no capital gains, gift, property or estate taxes. Foreign-source income is untaxed. The Seychelles has signed over 3025 tax treaties with partner countries, including China out of which 21 are currently in force. Regular amendments are made to its legislation so as to comply with international standards as set by the OECD, FATF and IMF.
The Seychelles has good telecommunications infrastructure. High-speed broadband arrived in 2012 when the 2,000km-long Seychelles East Africa Submarine (SEAS) cable was installed, linking the islands to a landing station in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The country also has a modern international airport with regular services to Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.