Stella Kammitsi: Cyprus' international trusts are very attractive compared to other jurisdictions

As the STEP Cyprus Conference gets underway at the Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol, CBN speaks to the organisation’s Chairwoman, Stella Kamitsi, about Cyprus’ trust industry and what makes the local trust stand out compared to its international peer.

What is STEP Cyprus and what does it do?

STEP is the acronym for the “Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners”, and it is a global professional body, its members being mainly lawyers, accountants, trustees and other professionals in the field of family estate planning. It has more than 21,000 members in 96 countries, it has an extremely active network, and amongst other activities it organises numerous local and international conferences and events worldwide. Today STEP is regarded as one of the world’s leading organisations for private wealth professionals.

STEP Cyprus was established in 2003 by its esteemed founder Mr Peter Economides and its goals are mainly to keep its members up to date with the latest trust and estate planning insights and developments globally, to build their skills and knowledge, raise their profile internationally and to grow their networking and client base.

Being a STEP member is an indication that one has the required specialised knowledge and highest professional standards for advising on trust related matters and for acting as trustee or protector.

How big is Cyprus’ trust industry?

STEP Cyprus currently has over 160 members and it is considered as one of the largest branches internationally compared to population.

It must be stressed that there is also a strong professional community in the island with specific knowledge and expertise on trusts – who many of them may not be STEP members but they do have interaction with STEP directly and indirectly.

What makes Cypriot trusts stand out in comparison with international trusts?

One of the main reasons is that Cyprus has a long history and a well-developed legal framework governing trusts which makes it an attractive jurisdiction for the establishment of Cyprus International Trusts. Cyprus' journey on trusts began in 1959 with the enactment of its first Trust Law, Cap 193 which was one of the first laws adopted by Cyprus with its independence from the Crown and which was modelled on the English Trustee Act of 1925, and continued with the enactment of the Cyprus International Trust Law in 1992 and its subsequent amendments.

Thus, in effect we have two trust legislations in Cyprus: one that applies for local clients and one that applies to international clients, the provisions of which are very attractive compared to other jurisdictions such as, inter alia, on confidentiality, asset protection, over-coming forced heirship regimes, freedom on choice of law.

Also, the knowledge and expertise on trusts that the local professionals offer to foreign clients makes Cyprus international trusts very attractive.

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