Her Majesty’s Government’s response to the status of of Gibraltar vis à vis the United Kingdom and Europe has been to grant autonomy to the Gibraltar regulatory authority, responsible for the regulation of financial services in Gibraltar, the Financial Services Commission (“the FSC”), albeit with the prerequisite that UK standards of regulations be applied. The Commission is a statutory body corporate established by the Financial Services Commission Ordinance (now Act), 1989.
The FSC consists of the Commissioner, as Chairman, and seven other persons, four of whom shall have relevant experience in the United Kingdom and three of whom shall have relevant experience in Gibraltar. The Commissioner is appointed by the Governor, acting with the approval of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, and the other members are appointed by the Governor, acting with the approval of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, after consulting with the Commissioner.
The Commissioner, who is also the Commissioner of Banking and the Commissioner of Insurance, is the chief executive officer of the Commission and is charged with the responsibility of supervising institutions carrying on finance business in or from within Gibraltar. He is required to ensure that such supervision complies with any applicable obligation Gibraltar has as a constituent of the European Union and to establish supervisory standards which match those required by legislation and supervisory practice governing the provision of financial services within the United Kingdom. In connection with regulated activities such as Insurance and Banking etc., therefore, entities authorised in Gibraltar will be able, subject to the proper procedures, to take advantage of the single European passport for financial services, and carry on activities in any other European state under its Gibraltar licence.
REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT – PASSPORTING OF FINANCIAL SERVICES
As Gibraltar is part of the European Union, the Commission licenses and supervises financial institutions in accordance with EU directives. In order to meet these requirements, Gibraltar has in many areas enacted legislation and implemented standards of supervision which match those required by legislation and supervisory practice in the UK. Indeed some areas which are largely unregulated in the United Kingdom and the subject of original legislation in Gibraltar, thus providing the public with a greatere level of protection that in available in the UK.
Gibraltar insurers have direct access to EU insurance markets by which they can, with the consent of the Gibraltar Commissioner of Insurance, operate in the UK and other member states of the EEA on the basis of their Gibraltar licence, a practice known as “passporting”.
Passporting rights apply only between EEA states, so directive passporting rights do not apply in the same way. The UK and Gibraltar have special arrangements under the Gibraltar Order, which allows rights equivalent to directive rights. The Order applies to insurers and insurance intermediaries, so Gibraltar insurers can ‘passport’ into other EEA territories. EEA insurers can also ‘passport’ into Gibraltar. The UK and Gibraltar have also concluded special “post-boxing” arrangements so that regulatory communications to other member states can pass via the UK Government.
Institutions conducting banking business in or from Gibraltar require a licence under the Banking Ordinance 1992. As is the case with insurers Gibraltar registered banks have through the passporting process the right to directly access the banking markets of other EU member states.
The Financial Services Ordinance 1998 implements the EU Investment Services Directive and some related directives. This legislation includes several amendments to the Financial Services Ordinance 1989 which remains in force for other investment firms.
The Commission is also responsible for the licensing and supervision of entities providing trust or company management services in accordance with the provisions of the Financial Services Ordinance 1989.
Persons wishing to conduct a licensable activity in or from within Gibraltar need to contact the Commission at an early stage to obtain necessary guidance.
Gibraltar has one of the best regulated financial centres in the world. It is now regarded as a benchmark jurisdiction in respect to many aspects of its supervisory infrastructure.
The Financial Services Commission can be contacted through their website – www.fsc.gi