Wednesday, March 29, 2017

BVI EU Representative Takes Part in Discussions with CARIFORUM and ACP

In the mid of March, BVI EU representative Benito Wheatley had a meeting in Brussels, Belgium with secretary general of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries, to discuss the alternative post-Brexit relationship between the British Virgin Islands and the European Union. Wheatley expressed interest of the BVI in establishing close ties with the organization in the future agreements with the EU.

Also, the BVI EU representative attended CARIFORUM ambassadors meetings where discussed BVI plans to engage with the Caribbean states organization and participate in their future arrangements with the EU. Financial services were emphasized as the main area of immediate cooperation, especially concerning Caribbean jurisdictions' ongoing dialogue with the European Union on international tax cooperation. 

Wheatley's discussions with the ACP group of countries and CARIFORUM are in line with BVI Premier's mandate given to BVI EU representative, to explore different options for jurisdiction's relationship with the organization. The meetings in which Wheatley participated on behalf of the BVI were part of Caribbean Tourism Organization's mission to Brussels to discuss with EU stakeholders the impact of Brexit on the Caribbean.

Monday, March 20, 2017

BVI FSC Published Financial Statistics for Q4 2016

On March 17, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission published forty-fifth volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing information and statistics on financial services activities in the jurisdiction in the fourth quarter of 2016. In this period ended 31 December 2016, the Registry of Corporate Affairs reported 7,780 new company incorporations, an increase as compared to 7,766 companies registered in the third quarter of the year. By the end of 2016, cumulative number of companies was 416,784. In the reported period, there were also 37 Private Trust Companies and 17 Limited Partnerships incorporated in BVI.

According to Investment Business figures, total number of funds registered/recognized in the jurisdiction in the fourth quarter was 18, cumulative number by the end of the year 2016 being 1,614. There was 1 Mutual Fund incorporated, cumulative number being 145. As at 31 December 2016, 176 Insurers and 40 Functionaries were registered in the British Virgin Islands. 

International Cooperation statistics shows 34 formal and 9 informal incoming requests filed in the reported quarter of the year, as well as 17 outgoing requests, 89 enforcement matters and 14 enforcement investigations. Among ongoing supervision matters referred to the Licensing and Supervisory Committee, 122 related to Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary Services, 42 related to Investment Business, and 30 related to Insurance. Cumulative total number of Trade Marks Agents registered in Q4 2016 was 22.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

BVI Established Task Force to Examine Brexit Implications

BVI Premier Dr D Orlando Smith is planning to establish a task-force to examine the implications of Brexit on the BVI territory. The new task force, headed by Premier Smith, will include other government ministers and technocrats.

The White Paper on the implications for BVI of Britain leaving the European Union is expected to be ready before representatives of the jurisdiction again meet with members of the British government in June and in November 2017. The British government is expected to present the concerns of the BVI and other British Overseas Territories during negotiations regarding Brexit. 

Premier Smith noted that, during the meeting recently held with members of the British government, he highlighted some of the Brexit challenges and opportunities that may arise for the British Virgin Islands. The BVI priorities set by the Premier included freedom of movement, international trade and EU funding.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BVI Premier Visited London to Discuss Brexit Impact on OTs

BVI Premier and Minister of Finance Dr Orlando Smith, has completed high level meetings in the United Kingdom. The premier along with other Overseas Territory leaders discussed the impact of Brexit on the territories, during the UK-OT Joint Ministerial Council on European Negotiations, and made a courtesy call on UK Prime Minister.

Also, he attended a number of other meetings including a meeting for OT leaders on beneficial ownership hosted by Home Office Minister of State for Security and Member of Parliament, Ben Wallace. During the meeting, the BVI implementation of beneficial ownership agreements was recognized as the most advanced. 

The BVI premier held meeting with vice chairman of the Conservative Party and Member of Parliament Mark Field, to demonstrate BVI's new system for exchanging beneficial ownership and discuss the priorities of the jurisdiction for Brexit negotiations.

Friday, January 27, 2017

BVI Hosted Meeting of Winair, Air France and KLM

On January 9, 2017, Winair, Air France and KLM had a joint sales and marketing meeting in the British Virgin Islands, with the purpose to share the latest positive developments between Air France, KLM and Winair which will enhance the market. The companies shared their schedules, traffic patterns and growth of European customers with stakeholders in the BVI.

The participants also discussed the planned codeshare between Winair and KLM and will further enhance connections to the BVI. The code share agreement between Winair and Air France cause the 100% yearly increases of French market growth to the BVI, and the planned codeshare with KLM will unite the route structures of Air France, KLM and Winair and promote better connections to the BVI and other Caribbean countries at a lower price.

Winair (Windward Islands Airways International NV) is a government-owned regional airline, providing air transportation in the Caribbean region, having interline partners with 11 airlines from North and South America, Europe and the Caribbean, and a codeshare agreement with Air France.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

BVI FSC Issues 44th Volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin

BVI Financial Services Commission has published the forty fourth volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin for the third quarter of the year ended September 2016. In the reported period there were 7,766 new companies, 24 Private Trust companies and 27 Limited Partnerships incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (6,767, 23 and 25 respectively in the second quarter of 2016). Cumulative number of BVI companies as at 30 September 2016 was 447,503, also there were 1,120 Private Trust companies and 751 Limited Partnerships in the jurisdiction.

In the third quarter of 2016, three Investment Business Licences were granted, according to Investment Business statistics; also, three professional and four private Mutual Funds licences. There were 26 fully licensed insolvency practitioners in the jurisdiction in this period. 

In the sphere of Legal and Enforcement and International Co-operation, there were 29 formal incoming and 47 outgoing requests for international co-operation, 63 enforcement matters and 17 enforcement investigation cases. Ongoing supervision matters referred to LSC in Q3 2016 included 130 related to Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary services, 98 related to Investment Business, and 28 related to Insurance.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

BVI on the List of Countries for AEOI Consultations with Switzerland

British Virgin Islands is included in the list of the countries with which the Swiss Federal Department of Finance has launched a consultation on the introduction of the automatic exchange of information in tax matters (AEOI). The consultation will be held until March 15, 2017, and the AEOI for the listed countries is expected to enter into force on January 1, 2018, with first exchanges to start in 2019.

According to the Federal Department of Finance, the introduction of the AEOI with the new countries will confirm international commitment of Switzerland to implement the AEOI standards. 

The FDF said that these countries, which along with the BVI include Andorra, Argentina, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Chile, India, Israel, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, the Seychelles, and some others, adhere to the principle of speciality and implement appropriate measures to safeguard the confidentiality of the data exchanged.

In 2017, Switzerland will introduce the AEOI with EU member states, Australia, Iceland, Norway, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

BVI Delegation Participates in Global Tax Transparency Summit

The delegation from the British Virgin Islands represented the territory at the Global Tax Transparency Summit which was organised by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee and held on December 9. The Summit brought together parliamentarians, business academics, campaigners and tax experts with the purpose to discuss tax transparency and tax avoidance.

The BVI delegation including BVI UK representative Benito Wheatley and BVI London Office deputy director Dr Sandra Besson attended plenary sessions and took part in a lunch roundtable on transparency. It was important for the BVI to be present at the event to make sure that main participants are aware of the positive role BVI plays in the world economy and its compliance with international standards on tax transparency.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

BVI Finance Announced New Marketing and Business Strategy

BVI Finance updated its marketing and business development strategy for 2017 to 2020, and local financial services industry was informed of the BVI Finance's plans to develop the sector.

The BVI Finance Strategy update provided an insight on the marketing and business development initiatives, and the progress of BVI Finance in transition to BVI Finance Limited

Among officials which presented at the event devoted to the strategy update, there were interim executive director of BVI Finance Lorna Smith, permanent secretary in the Premier Office and chair of the BVI Finance interim board, Brodrick Penn, and BVI Finance's head of business development, Gary Hales who defined the main strategic aims of the organisation, and its key deliverables.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

UK Officials and British Overseas Territories Discussed Brexit

During the annual Joint Ministerial Council which was held in London, the leaders of the British Overseas Territories including British Virgin Islands met with UK officials and discussed several issues including Brexit. The UK government has noted that the Brexit referendum results will not change the position on sovereignty between the UK and its overseas territories.

The JML was also attended by the parliamentary under-secretary at the department for exiting the EU who said that the UK would involve the British Overseas Territories in the Brexit talks.

British Overseas Territories leaders will also have a special JMC Brexit meeting in London in the first quarter of 2017, before the UK invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Along with Brexit issue, there were many other topics were discussed including self-determination, pensions, human rights, corruption, environment and government infrastructure.

Friday, November 11, 2016

BVI FSC Being Confident in BVI licensed Financial Institutions

British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission issued press release in the end of October in which expressed confidence in the banking sector of the jurisdiction. As the sole financial regulator responsible for supervision of all financial institutions licensed in BVI, the FSC are confident in its regulatory procedures and processes, and are actively working with financial institutions to assist in achieving satisfactory compliance.

In the published press release, the Commission stated that it is unable to give comments on the financial condition of any individual financial institution in the jurisdiction but can confirm that BVI licensed banks are well capitalised and have adequate level of liquidity. The Commission announced that they do not expect any failure in the BVI banking sector.

Friday, November 04, 2016

BVI Asian Trade Mission: Agreement with Chinese economic area and BVI Roadshow

The strategic cooperation agreement between the BVI government and the Administration Commission of the Tianjin Binhai New Area Central Business District (CBD) was signed, as a result of the BVI Asian Trade Mission led by premier and minister of finance Dr Orlando Smith. Tianjin Binhai New Area is one of special economic zones of China, established in 2010. The BVI and the Tianjin Binhai New Area are planning to develop long-term cooperation and mutually support each other's development strategies, systems of management and operation as long-term strategic partners.

At a BVI road show event, which followed as part of the BVI Asian Trade Mission, the BVI Premier was speaking on the theme: “Pursuing Global Success with BVI as Your International Partner of Choice”. Also, the presentation was delivered by Conyers Dill & Pearman Partner themed “The Belt and Road Initiative: How the BVI Facilitates the Investment Opportunities”. Deputy group managing director made a presentation named “The BVI: At the Cutting Edge of Incorporation”. Managing director from AMS Financial Services presented “The BVI: Balancing Client Confidentiality with International Compliance”

The panel discussion on the event was moderated by Permanent Secretary of Premier's Office, Brodrick Penn, and named “The BVI Advantage in the Capital Markets”, followed by the presentation “The BVI Advantage in Litigation”. The roadshow was closed by a panel titled “The Enduring Competitiveness of the BVI”.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

First Days of BVI Asian Trade Mission in Hong Kong and China

BVI Premier and minister of finance Dr Orlando Smith said in his speech during the BVI Asian Trade Mission in Hong Kong that the Asia Pacific Region is a fundamental market for the British Virgin Islands. In the first days of the two week event which will make stops in HK and four cities of China, Premier headed the delegation in a number of meetings, which started with discussions with executives of Top Search International Holdings, a multi-disciplinary services group working in the spheres of insurance, asset management and banking. They discussed developments in the global and BVI financial services industry.

Among other visits, the BVI delegation had a meeting with executives of the Bank of Asia BVI Limited, to get an update information on the launch of the bank which is anticipated both by HK and BVI practitioners. 

On the first day the BVI Premier hosted a luncheon with financial services practitioners in Hong Kong, representing various sectors of economy. During the meeting Smith was speaking about the strong partnership between BVI, HK and China, about BVI advantages ad developments in the BVI financial services sector, including beneficial ownership.

On the second day of the BVI Asian Trade Mission, BVI delegation led by the Premier met with senior members of the marketing and international departments of the China National Tourism Administration; also, BVI Finance hosted the first of a series of roadshows, themed “Strategies for Global Success - BVI: The International Partner of Choice.”

Monday, October 10, 2016

BVI FSC Published Financial Services Statistics for Q2 2016

The BVI Financial Services Commission has issued the forty-third volume of its Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing for information and analysis of financial services activities in the territory for the second quarter of 2016. In the reported period, there were 6,767 new company incorporations in the jurisdiction, as compared to 9,456 in the first quarter of 2016, and 11,059 in the second quarter of the previous year. Cumulative number of companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands as at 30 June 2016 was 430,310. Also, in the second quarter of this year 23 Private Trust Partnerships and 25 Limited Partnerships were registered in the jurisdiction.

According to Investment Business Statistics, there was 1 Investment Business License granted in Q2 2016, making cumulative number of these licenses as much as 463; 12 Approved Investment Managers licenses, 8 Professional Mutual Funds Licenses, 2 Private Licenses, 4 Incubator Licenses and 12 approved licenses were granted in this period. 

The number of Full License Insolvency Practitioners in the second quarter of the year was 24; there were 42 Formal Requests for Legal and Enforcement and International Co-operation, as well as 8 Informal Requests, 30 Enforcement Matters, and 22 Enforcement Investigations in the reported quarter.

73 Banking and Fiduciary Services, 53 Investment Business, and 22 Insurance matters were referred to the Licensing and Supervisory Committee in the second quarter of 2016. There were 4 Trust Companies inspections and 2 Insurance inspections onsite in this period. Other relevant information can be seen in the homepage of BVI FSC.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

BVI Governor Speaks on BVI Government Legislative Agenda

BVI Governor John Duncan has delivered his speech at the first sitting of the second session of the third House of Assembly of the BVI themed "Securing Our Future" where he outlined specific focus areas for the BVI government. These included improving social services, strengthening educational sector, border protection, enhancing law, order and public safety, stimulating the economy, infrastructural development, and public sector reforms.

The Governor's speech from the throne, covering legislative agenda of the BVI government, is traditional in Commonwealth countries and British Overseas territories. It is used by the government to set its legislative programme for the upcoming year, and is prepared by the government on behalf of the Queen. 

John Duncan became the 16th governor of the British Virgin Islands on August 15, 2014, and his first speech from the throne address was delivered on November 10, 2014.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Public-Private Organization Launched in BVI Financial Services

The new entity is to be launched in the beginning of 2017, which will take over from the existing BVI Finance the functions of supporting financial services promotion and business development in the British Virgin Islands. BVI Finance Limited is a new public/private initiative and part of government programme that has the purpose to strengthen the financial services industry.

BVI Finance Limited will have a fundamentally new corporate structure, and will be more flexible and autonomous as the marketing and promotional tool of the financial services industry. It will be responsible for promoting financial services as an industry to customers, intermediaries and regulators abroad, and for developing new business opportunities. The objectives of the new organization include co-ordinating efforts of all main private sector stakeholders within financial services.

Monday, September 12, 2016

BVI and USVI Common Issues Discussed at IVIC Meeting

The delegations of government officials of the British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands discussed the areas of mutual interest during the seventh meeting of the Inter Virgin Islands Council (IVIC) which was held in St Thomas on September 2. The BVI delegation was led by BVI Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr Orlando Smith, and the USVI delegation was led by the jurisdiction's governor, Kenneth E. Mapp.

During the meeting the committees presented reports on law enforcement, tourism, energy and utilities, education, and other areas. It was decided to hold regular annual meetings, strengthen their capacity building efforts, improve information exchange, and reach more co-operation on public information outreach efforts. Speaking about the results of the meeting, USVI governor stated that the territories should continue to work together on their mutual interests, and find resolutions. 

The Inter-Virgin Islands Council was established on 29 May, 2004, with signing a joint memorandum of understanding. The first meeting of the Council was held in April 2005. The next IVIC meeting will take place on October 6, 2017, in the British Virgin Islands.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Leaders of Overseas Territories Meet to Discuss UK Changes

Leaders from seven of the UK Overseas Territories have met in Turks and Caicos Islands, to prepare for the annual meeting of with the FCO's minister for the overseas territories which will be held in London in October 2016.

During the meeting there were informal talks with the territory leaders about the significant changes which took place in the UK recently, the biggest of which being the vote in the referendum in favour of leaving the European Union, followed by the appointment of a new prime minister, Theresa May, which, in her turn, made some major minister changes

On the first day of the meeting, a letter was delivered to TCI Premier Dr Rufus Ewing from the new minister for the overseas territories at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Baroness Anelay who is the minister of state for relations with a number of international organizations and additionally works with the overseas territories. She emphasized the commitment of the UK government to the overseas territories, as well as their involvement in the preparations for negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

BVI Premier Expressed Concerns about International Banks

Premier and Minister of Finance Dr Orlando Smith said that the real issue for the BVI, as well as for the whole Caribbean and Latin American region, is the threat of international banks limiting or terminating their relationships with regional financial institutions. According to the premier, this matter is being discussed at the 'highest level of the Caribbean region', and representation has been made through all the banks - the banks' headquarters, correspondence banks, agencies, the United Kingdom and America.

The international banks' withdrawal due to unspecified concerns about money laundering is among the major issues being discussed at CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Georgetown, Guyana. The organization has already stated that the problem presents ‘a number of threats to the region’s financial and economic stability’. 

Correspondent banking is crucially important to small developing economies; correspondent banks, which act as domestic banks' overseas agents, actually facilitate trade investments and remittances.

Friday, July 15, 2016

UK Tax Policy to Become Closer to its Overseas Territories

European finance ministers and experts expressed concern that Brexit could cause the UK to become another tax haven, the same as its Caribbean territories. By words of George Osborne, the country would cut its corporate tax rates to one of the lowest of any major economy, from 20 percent to less than 15 percent by 2020, trying to avoid the recession after Brexit and attract international investment.

Even before the referendum, UK was in the process of lowering corporate tax rate from 20 percent to 17 percent, to become more attractive destination for multinational corporations; after exit from the EU, the country will double its attempts to maintain London's status as premier financial centre. 

The British overseas territories including the British Virgin Islands are often used to shield the assets and identities of their clients. However, the UK and its Caribbean territories adopted the OECD new Common Reporting Standard, which makes disclosure of tax residency information compulsory starting from 2016. This was connected very much with anti-tax avoidance initiatives caused by Panama Papers leak as an important source of information and moving force for these changes.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

BVI FSC Published Statistical Bulletin for Q1 2016

The BVI Financial Services Commission has published the forty-second volume of its Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing figures and information on financial services industry in the jurisdiction in Q1 2016. According to the statistics published by the Registry of Corporate Affairs, in the announced period there were 9,456 new companies incorporated, along with 27 Private Trust Companies and 20 Limited Partnerships. The number of company incorporations is higher than in the previous quarter (Q4 2015) but lower than in the first quarter of 2015. Cumulative number of companies incorporated as at 31 March 2016 was 466,081. At that moment, there were also 1,112 Private Trust Companies and 780 Limited Partnerships registered in the BVI.

In Investment Business, 5 new Investment Business Licences were granted in the first quarter of 2016, and cumulative number of Investment Business Licences achieved 467 as at 31 March 2016. Also, 8 Professional Mutual Fund and 4 Private Mutual Fund Licences were granted in the reported period. In the first quarter of 2016, there were 23 fully licences Insolvency Practitioners in the jurisdiction.

According to Legal and Enforcement and International Cooperation statistics, there were 52 formal and 5 informal requests in the first quarter of the year, 47 Enforcement Matters and 21 Enforcement Investigations. 

In 2016, seven Trade Marks Agents were registered in the British Virgin Islands, of them 3 Individual and 4 Partnership Agents. In the first quarter of 2016, 78 new Trade Marks applications were registered in the jurisdiction.