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Changes to Belize record keeping obligations
28/11/2013

The OECD among other international bodies has for some time been pressing the government of Belize to introduce legislation to regulate the maintenance of accounting records by Belize registered companies.

Earlier this year the Accounting Records (Maintenance) Bill was published before being placed before the National Assembly of Belize.  On the 12th October 2013 the Bill was approved by the National Assembly and the Accounting Records (Maintenance) Act N°.18 of 2013 (the “Act”) became law.

Record Keeping Obligation
The legislation applies to all Belize incorporated entities, which includes companies, partnerships (LLP), trusts, LLC etc. The legislation also applies to companies based in Belize.

Such entities are now required to maintain accounting records for a period of at least five years following the occurrence of one of the following events:
 
  • The closure of an account; or
  • Conclusion of a transaction; or
  • Termination of any business relationship whether that relationship was a regular habitual or a one off-relationship.

The accounting records are required to be accurate and reliable, and sufficient to explain and document all the financial transactions of the company.

The records must contain sufficient information to enable each financial transaction to be understood so the financial position of the company may be determined with reasonable accuracy and for the preparation of the company’s financial statements.

Location of Records
The accounting records are required to be kept at one of the three locations stated in the legislation:
 
  • The registered office in Belize in the case of a Belize based company; or
  • The office of the company’s registered agent in Belize; or
  • Such other place either in the jurisdiction of Belize or elsewhere outside of Belize as determined by the company’s directors or other competent persons.

Should the last option be adopted, the Act provides that the company must inform its Registered Agent in Belize of the location of its accounting records. The Agent must then maintain a record of the whereabouts of those records in its files. In the event of a change in the location of the records, the company is obliged to notify the Registered Agent of their new location within fourteen days of the change.

When accounting records are maintained electronically the location is the address where the records are used and updated, not the location of the server where they may be stored.

Penalties
On receipt of a request by the Belize authorities the Registered Agent is required to provide a prompt and timely response. In default, the Act provides that the Registered Act can be subject to a fine of up to $10,000.

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