Foreign Investment (Amendment) Decree 2013 (Decree)
Significant changes have come into effect this month which are particularly relevant for foreign investors who have obtained a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) from Investment Fiji (IF) and, amongst other things, have not commenced business within 12 months of the FIRC being granted.
The Foreign Investment Act 1999 (as amended) (Act) provides that the Chief Executive of IF may cancel a FIRC if there are reasonable grounds for believing that a foreign investor:
- obtained a FIRC by fraud or misrepresentation, misstatement or omission of a material particular;
- is in serious or persistent breach of the terms or conditions of a FIRC or of the Act;
- has ceased to carry on business in the activity or all of the activities in respect of which a certificate was granted; or
- has not started to carry on business in any activity in respect of which a FIRC was granted within 12 months after the grant of the FIRC, without genuine reason.
The Decreecame into force on 9 August 2013 and provides:
- that a subsequent breach of the Act results in an immediate cancellation of the foreign investor’s FIRC;
- that the requirement for a breach to be ‘persistent’ is removed;
- that upon cancellation of the FIRC, the Attorney General is permitted to apply to the Court for an order forfeiting the foreign investors’ assets, shares or property (Assets);
- that the Attorney General may also apply for a restraining order if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the Assets will be destroyed, removed, transferred or otherwise dealt with.
What do you, as a foreign investor, need to do?
- know your obligations under the Act
- Inform IF if you have ceased carrying on business in Fiji
- ensure you start carrying on business within 12 months of your FIRC being granted
The Fijian Government has just released the final version of the country's new constitution (on 22 August 2013). It is expected that the Constitution will be given Presidential Assent on 6 September 2013.
The new Constitution includes a bill of rights, and sets up an accountability and transparency commission to hold public office holders accountable.