BIO can invest in countries classified by the OECD as “Least Developed Countries”, “Low Income Countries” and “Lower-middle Income Countries”, also known as the DAC-list, and puts a specific focus on the partner countries of the Belgian Development Cooperation and on less developed countries. Since the beginning of 2014, BIO can also invest in the upper middle-income countries.
Today BIO concentrates its operations directly and indirectly in 52 countries. Download the list of countries here.
Africa is the largest beneficiary of BIO’s funding operations and accounts for 34% of the total portfolio, followed by Asia and Latin America. BIO also contributes to multiregional projects.
BIO’s approach regarding the use of offshore financial centers
The Management contract of April 2014 between BIO and the Belgian State defines the approach to investments in states ranked as “offshore financial centers”:
“BIO shall not invest in or via certain States, as laid down in Article 3 § 1, subsection 6 of the BIO Law that are set up in any State referred to in Article 307, § 1, paragraph 5, a) or b), of the 1992 Income Tax Code.
- that are set up in a state, other than that where the ultimate beneficiary of BIO's intervention
has its registered office, that is included on the list of States that decline to negotiate and sign an agreement for the automatic exchange of tax and banking information with Belgium as from 2015, in accordance with the standards set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This list is set out in a Royal Decree issued after deliberation by the Council of Ministers.
- Moreover, when the (potential) beneficiary is not itself located in one of the States targeted by the above mentioned legal provision, and when BIO can reasonably suppose that this beneficiary is controlled, directly or indirectly by an entity established in one of these States, BIO shall take the necessary measures, notably contractual, to ensure that this situation does not have the purpose or effect of improperly removing revenue and wealth from the developing country concerned through BIO's intervention through fictitious transfer pricing mechanisms. "Control" means direct or indirect ownership of at least twenty-five percent (25%) of voting rights or similar rights in the controlled company or the capacity to influence the management and general running of the controlled company or choose the majority of the members of the board of directors of the controlled company, whether this capacity arises from a contract, an agreement or from another means. The Board of Directors shall ensure that BIO defines and implements an adequate policy on the principles stated above. “
Precautions on BIO investments in Offshore jurisdictions not excluded by Law
BIO justifies the reasons why a project (fund, investment company or holding) is established in a country that is not that of the end beneficiary: for example the added value of using an offshore vehicle rather than doing a direct investment in the targeted companies, , existence or not of an adequate onshore alternative, confirmation that the targeted companies will be subject to taxation in their country of registration as per the applicable laws and regulations, and the status of the country in the peer review process of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.
The analysis of potential projects also includes the verification that all flows between parent companies and subsidiaries take place at market value and are not used to disguise a transfer of profits to lower-tax jurisdictions for the purpose of tax evasion. Clauses to this extent will be included in the contracts BIO signs with its clients.