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Changes in Cyprus’ Investment Services Sector

January 22, 2019 at 8:01am
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Changes are taking place in the island’s investment services sector now that a new financial services company – eToro (Europe) Ltd – which is authorized and regulated by the Cyprus Securities Exchange Commission (CySEC) – has been included in the list of Systemically Important Institutions. Central Bank of Cyprus data shows that the award-winning trading platform got on the Other Systemically Important Institutions –O-SII list just before the end of 2018.

More specifically, the CBC has designated Renaissance Securities (Cyprus) Ltd, SIB (Cyprus) Ltd, BrokerCreditService (Cyprus) Ltd, Alfa Capital Holdings (Cyprus) Ltd and eToro (Europe) Ltd as ‘Other Systemically Important Institutions-O-SII’ and determined the amount of additional funds they need due to their systemic nature. This measure will come in effect as of April 1, 2019.

The CBC data also shows that, based on the classification which took place over the last three years, SIB (Cyprus) Ltd was the top investment services firm in 2016, followed by Renaissance Securities (Cyprus) Ltd. IronFX Global Ltd was also classified in 2016, but not anymore.

In 2018, SIB (Cyprus) Ltd dropped to second place due also to a reduction in size, while Renaissance Securities (Cyprus) Ltd was placed at the top. In addition, Reserve Invest Ltd is not included in the 2018 classification, although it was included in 2017, while BrokerCreditService (Cyprus) Ltd made a comeback in 2018.

Based on the guidelines of the European Banking Authority (EBA), the definition of specific O-SIIs is done in two stages. In the first stage, a rating for each investment firm is calculated according to the criteria set out in the Law, i.e. its size and importance for the economy of the European Union or the Republic, plus the importance of its cross-border activities and interconnection within the financial system.

In the second stage, the CBC, in cooperation and in consultation with the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, assesses whether an investment firm should be identified as an O-SII institution using additional qualitative or quantitative systemic indicators that are included in the EBA guidelines. Investment firms with a total rating of over 350 base units are automatically defined as O-SII institutions.

The criteria depend on the size, i.e. the total assets of an investment firm, its significance (including the substitutability / financial system infrastructure), the complexity / cross-border activity and its interconnection within the financial system.

 

Read more: Top EU VAT expert to address financial services seminar in Cyprus

Prof. Dr. Ben J. M. Terra, arguably Europe’s top authority on Value Added Tax (VAT), will join local expert, Alexis Tsielepis, to present the implications of VAT in the Financial Services industry at a high-level seminar this month.

Titled “VAT in the World of Financial Services,” this first-of-its-kind seminar is organised by the Chelco VAT International Academy in Limassol on Tuesday, 20 November 2018 and is geared towards professionals in the forex industry, the banking sector, credit institutions, fund management companies, financing companies and other CySEC regulated entities.

The expert duo will explain the VAT exemptions for financial services, especially with reference to ECJ decisions, and the right to deduct input VAT for goods and services purchased by businesses in the financial industry.

“It’s always a pleasure teaching professionals in Cyprus, whom I find to be of the highest calibre. It’s also always a pleasure teaching with fellow VAT expert, Alexis Tsielepis,” Prof. Terra said.

He went on to set the tone of the seminar by saying:

“The purpose of the exemption for financial transactions was to alleviate the difficulties connected with determining the tax base and the amount of VAT deductible, and to avoid an increase in the cost of consumer credit.”

The professor assessed that “it seems to me that the new trend is that when the VAT liability of a financial transaction does not present such difficulties and it can easily be determined, and such a transaction does not involve any credit to the purchaser by that service provider, such a service does not therefore qualify for exemption!”

He then added: “Life would be so much easier if expressions and legal concepts known in other areas of EU law would be applied in the interpretation of the VAT Directive.”

Picking up on Prof. Terra’s words, Tsielepis said that “it is a privilege to have the professor share his vast knowledge on the subject with us in Cyprus.”

Tsielepis, Managing Director of Chelco VAT Ltd and Lead Instructor of the Chelco VAT International Academy, said that “this is the first time a VAT seminar of this calibre and on this particular subject is organised in Cyprus” and he labelled it as a must for professionals in the financial industry.

Prof. Terra studied international law at the University of Amsterdam and indirect taxation at the University of Leiden. He served as Head of Post-Graduate Training in VAT at Customs and Excises at the Ministry of Finance in The Hague, Professor of Law at the University of Leiden and Head of the Global Indirect Tax Practice of a big-four firm.

He has published numerous articles and books on indirect taxation and is also a consultant of the OECD, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. At present, Prof. Terra is an indirect tax and European tax law lecturer at the Católica Global School of Law in Portugal and at the Lund University in Sweden.

Tsielepis is widely considered as the foremost expert on VAT in Cyprus. With 15 years of experience in VAT strategic consulting, he advises businesses on international VAT matters and lectures at local and international VAT conferences and schools.

He has written a number of tax syllabuses, chapters, articles and a book on matters pertaining to Cyprus and EU VAT. He is a Fellow Chartered Accountant and holds the Expert in European Value Added Tax Degree, which he earned with the highest grade ever awarded in the history of the coveted diploma.