THE Caribbean island of Nevis aims to establish itself as a major offshore financial centre with a battery of new trust laws offering investors confidentiality and protection. Nevis, a state in the Commonwealth country of St Kitts and Nevis, has enacted similar trust structures to those available in the British Virgin Islands and Cook Islands. The island's premier, Vance Amory, yesterday said its new laws would extend protection and concessions to people setting up trusts or settling on the island. The laws include allowing settlers to be beneficiaries of trusts, imposing a US$25,000 bond on any creditor wanting to contest a trust structure, and abolishing any right of appeal against a trust structure in foreign jurisdictions. This type of trust structure is popular with professionals from countries whose laws subject them to unlimited liability. Professionals such as lawyers, chartered accountants or doctors use them to protect assets from claims for damages in negligence actions. No taxes are imposed by the Nevis authorities. Mr Amory, whose island has a population of 10,000 and a per capita income of $4,000, said: 'We hope to offer protection to individuals or corporations.' He said agents would be used to ensure applicants undertook due diligence assessments. But the state has refused invitations from the United States to sign information exchange treaties. According to independent experts, the trusts have limitations which need to be considered before seeking cover. Jeffrey Halpern, managing director of the Royal Bank of Canada Trust Co (Asia), said his organisation did not offer this form of asset protection. 'Someone setting up a trust has to ensure that the overriding intent is to protect their assets. If you attempt to deceive a creditor, then it is a criminal offence.' He said when legal action was taken against an individual they would be asked to reveal the nature and whereabouts of all assets during the discovery procedure. 'This type of asset protection is almost designer legislation for unlimited practitioners, such as doctors, to limit their liability.' He said they were best suited to assets that could be transferred, such as stock and bonds. Any assets which were repatriated to the original domicile would automatically become liable to action by creditors.