Wednesday, May 09, 2018

BVI FSC Issued Financial Services Statistics for Q4 2017


The BVI Financial Services Commission has issued the forty-ninth volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing information and analysis of financial services activities in the BVI in the fourth quarter of 2017. In this period, according to the Registry of Corporate Affairs the number of new company incorporations was 8,538 - an increase as compared to the third quarter of 2017 and also the fourth quarter of 2016. Cumulative number of companies as at 31 December 2017 was 389,459. The number of newly registered Private Trust Companies and Limited Partnerships also was higher in the reported period than in the previous quarter of the year, and their cumulative number was 1,089 and 812, respectively. Total number of BVI Business Companies registered in year 2017 was 32,493, which is an increase after the minimum of the previous year.

In Investment Business, there was also an increase in the last quarter of the year, with 30 total funds registered after 11 in the third quarter and 18 in the fourth quarter of 2016. Cumulative number of funds made 1,499 as at 31 December 2017. Total number of Insolvency Practitioners remained the same as in Q3 2017, as well as the total number of Licensed Insurers and Functionaries. 

In the sphere of International Co-operation, there were 18 Formal Incoming requests and 62 Enforcement Matters in the reported period, which is less than in the previous quarter of the year. Also, in Q4 2017 there were 111 ongoing supervision matters referred to the Licensing and Supervisory Committee and related to Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary services, 50 related to Investment Business, and 19 related to Insurance.

Monday, April 30, 2018

BVI Eligible for Association Membership in the Caribbean Forum


CARIFORUM director has confirmed that the British Virgin Islands is eligible for associate membership in this regional organization which engages in policy dialogue with the European Union on behalf of a number of Caribbean states. Confirmation of BVI eligibility became part of a CARIFORUM regional consultation in Barbados in April, which focused on establishing an effective platform for dialogue between CARIFORUM and French Caribbean Outermost Regions and British and Dutch OCTs.

The BVI will no longer be treated as OCT after the UK exits the European Union in March 2019, so the government of the territory is seeking the way to continue BVI current relationship with the EU through CARIFORUM. Currently member states of CARIFORUM include Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. 

The assistant secretary for external affairs in BVI Premier’s Office Christopher said in her comments: “We welcome that associate membership is open to the BVI. This status would give us a more meaningful status in CARIFORUM whereby we can participate in the Caribbean’s policy dialogue with the EU and regional coordination. At the moment we remain an observer.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

BVI and EU co-chair Meeting to Discuss EU Tax List Issues


BVI and European Commission co-chaired the meeting of financial services partnership working party which was held in Belgium between the EU and a number of Overseas Countries and Territories. During the meeting, the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes was discussed. From OCT jurisdictions, there were representatives of Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and some others, from EU, there were the officials from the Directorate General for Tax and Customs Union and Directorate General for International Development and Cooperation. 

Beside the listing process and ongoing procedures, the participants of the meeting also discussed beneficial ownership developments in the EU and OCTs and EU approach to taxation in the digital economy sector. 

BVI London Office director and UK and EU representative Benito Wheatley co-chaired the meeting on behalf of the BVI, and currently is co-chairing the OCT/EU financial services partnership working party. He said in his comments: “It is critical that the EU and OCTs maintain dialogue on tax and other financial services issues to gain a greater understanding of any concerns.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018

BVI Finance Hosting Expo for Job Seekers in Financial Services


This week, BVI Finance is hosting a Financial Services Opportunities Expo to give the possibility for job seekers to join the financial services industry of the jurisdiction. More than 75 job seekers are already considered to be hired. BVI Finance has said in the media release that participants will have opportunities to speak directly with financial services firms and be interviewed for available positions. Also, they can attend breakout sessions surrounding professional development in the financial industry, and participate in feedback sessions.

According to BVI Finance, “The Expo aims to help the islands rebuild by facilitating gainful employment. This initiative is from the Committee to Revitalize Financial Services of the Virgin Islands that was established last year. Later this year, similar expos will be planned for the tourism and general business industries.”

Monday, March 19, 2018

BVI FSC Announced Registration of Loss Adjusters


The Financial Services Commission issued a public notice advising insurance professionals and general public of the list of the Loss Adjusters, including Public Loss Adjusters registered under Section 9(6) of Financial Services (Continuity of Business) Act, 2017 (the “Continuity of Business Act”). The document provides for the registration of Loss Adjusters to assess insurance claims resulting from Hurricanes.

It is advised by the Commission that the Loss Adjusters named in the list have been registered pursuant to the Continuity of Business Act until 31 March 2018, when the Continuity of Business Act ceases to be in force.

Friday, March 16, 2018

BVI Gets New Status on EU Tax list


On March 13, 2018, the European Union has made changes to the list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions: three countries were removed and further three were added to it. Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia were said by the EU Council to have made commitments to answer the EU’s concerns about them, and the Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the US Virgin Islands were, in their turn, included in the list.

The British Virgin Islands, along with Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica were added to annex II of the list, which includes territories that have made commitments to reform their tax policies. These jurisdictions are subject to close monitoring. The original list comprised 17 jurisdictions and was announced on December 5, 2017.

Monday, February 26, 2018

BVI Among Major FDI Sources for New Zealand


According to the information of New Zealand’s lobby group, foreign direct investment (ownership of companies) in the country increased by 653% from $15.7 billion in 1989 to $113 billion in 2017. Most assets are owned by businesses from Australia, and the British Virgin Islands also are among the major investors along with the US, Hong Kong, the UK, Japan, Singapore, Netherlands, Canada, Cayman Islands, and a number of other countries.

By words of Bill Rosenberg of the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA), "All had over $100m in foreign direct investment in New Zealand. These accounted for 95 per cent of foreign direct investment in New Zealand and Australia alone accounts for 51 per cent. Luxembourg, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands are tax havens, and the Netherlands has been used to avoid tax.

He also said that foreign owned entities keep control of 38% of the share market of New Zealand in 2017, while in 1989 it was 19%. Last year, the Overseas Investment Office approved foreign investments in the country in the amount of $5.3 billion.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

British House of Lords Voting Against Public Beneficial Owners Register


The amendment proposal for the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and four other British Overseas Territories to implement public register of beneficial owners behind offshore companies registered in these jurisdiction was rejected in British House of Lords, by 211 to 201. The peers voted during the debate on the proposed Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill; the public register requirement was for the purposes of “preventing money-laundering”.

The amendment, if accepted, would allow the UK government to demand the offshore countries to provide details of companies’ owners. It was already the fourth time when the idea of public registers was discussed in the House of Lords.

In the opinion of the Conservative member of the Lords who argued against the proposal the law enforcement agencies do not support public registers as they actually don’t help law enforcement. He also noted that the UK overseas countries already shown themselves“extremely efficient in responding to the requests of policing and other agencies”.

Other concerns expressed included the potential identity theft that can be facilitated by the public register of beneficial ownership, as well as possible loss of business in favour of competitors. There were also warnings against legislating for self-governing overseas territories.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

BVI Government Receiving US$65.5mn in Loans and Grants


The board of directors of the Caribbean Development Bank has approved that US$65.5 million will be provided to the government of the British Virgin Islands, in loans and grants. The loans are aimed to assist with the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction of social and economic infrastructure in the jurisdiction.

According to the preliminary assessment report estimates of the BVI government, there are US$3 billion in damage and losses from Hurricane Irma, which is three times the annual gross domestic product of the country. 

The rehabilitation and reconstruction project which includes several components is to strengthen the socio-cultural and economic preparedness and resilience of the British Virgin Islands to future climate-related hazards. It will be supported through US$65.2 million loan and US$300,000 grant.

In Autumn 2017, three immediate response loans were already approved by the Caribbean Development Bank, totalling US$2.25 million and an emergency relief grant of US$200,000 to the British Virgin Islands after the Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and Tropical Storm José.

Monday, December 18, 2017

UK MP Standing for British Overseas Territories to be Represented in Parliament


The British Conservative member of Parliament, Andrew Rosindell, was speaking for the Friends of the British Overseas Territories in London, saying that the BOTs should have better and equitable parliamentary representation. He also said it was wrong that the British territories are dealt with by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) because they are not foreign.

Rosindell is the chairman of the Friends of the British Overseas Territories and is in a senior position on the various committees relating to the British territories. He is also a long-time defender of the rights of the BOTs, supporting more equity for them in the British family. He has called for the territories to be dealt with by a single UK government department, and noted that in case of disaster, for example a recent hurricane, the British government should act as in case of natural disaster in the UK. 

The Conservative politician and his supporters in the UK suggested that Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man and the Caribbean territories of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos should have one MP each, while the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat should have a shared representative, and the same should be done for Gibraltar, Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas and British Indian Ocean Territory.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

BVI FSC Issued Statistical Bulletin for Q3 2017


In the end of November, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission issued the forty-eighth volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing information on financial services activities in the territory for the third quarter of 2017. Statistics of the Registry of Corporate Affairs shows that 7,639 new business companies were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in this period, as compared to 7,621 companies registered in the second quarter of 2017, and 7,766 companies registered in the third quarter of the previous year. Cumulative number of BVI BCs was 413,273 as at 30 September 2017. The Registry also published information about 24 Private Trust Companies and 23 Limited Partnerships incorporated in Q3 2017, cumulative number as at 30 September 2017 was 1,121 and 758, respectively.

According to Investment Business statistics, 14 new licences were granted to Approved Investment Managers, 3 licences granted to Professional Mutual Funds, and 2 licences to Private Mutual Funds. In total, 11 funds were registered/recognized in the third quarter of the year. 

In the reported period, there were 28 Insolvency Practitioners in the BVI in Q3 2017 (27 in Q2 2017, and 26 in Q3 2016). Cumulative number of Insurance Licensees and Functionaries as at 30 September of this year remained the same as by the end of the previous quarter. 

In the sphere of International Co-operation, in the third quarter of 2017 there were 49 Formal Incoming Requests, 1 Formal Request, 1 Formal Outgoing Request, 153 Enforcement Matters and 17 Enforcement Investigations. Of Ongoing Supervision Matters referred to the Licensing and Supervisory Committee, 79 referred to Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary services, 110 referred to Investment Business, and 114 to Insurance. Other relevant information and statistics can be found on the website of BVI FSC.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

CARICOM will Hold Conference to Support its Members


Next month, on November 20-21, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will hold a high-level donor conference in the US, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The conference will have the purpose to mobilise international resources for member CARICOM countries devastated by hurricanes, among them Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, St Kitts-Nevis, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands and St Martin.

According to the statement issued by CARICOM secretariat, the initiative is “aimed at rebuilding the devastated members as the first climate resilient countries in the world and helping the wider CARICOM region improve its resilience”…”International Development Partners, friendly countries, NGOs, prominent personalities, private sector entities and foundations have been invited. CARICOM heads of government and the Secretaries-General of CARICOM and the United Nations will also participate.”

Friday, October 27, 2017

BVI FSC Announced Appointment of New Asia Representative


The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission has issued press release where announced the appointment of Mr. Burton Chalwell who will replace Mr. Leon Wheatley as the new Asia Representative of the Commission. Mr. Wheatley will return to the BVI headquarters of the BVI FSC and serve as a Deputy Director with supervision of the Compliance Inspection Unit.

The appointment of Mr. Chalwell was effective 9 October 2017, and previous representative is expected to assume his new post on 13 November 2017. In the role of Asia Rep at BVI FSC (HK) Ltd., Mr. Chalwell’s duty will be managing the delivery of services offered from the Commission’s office at BVI House Asia, and the Asia Pacific liaison for BVI Financial Services licensees and regulators with a presence in the region

Robert Mathavious, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, commented on the appointment, saying: “Asia continues to be a key market for the British Virgin Islands and we are very pleased with the talent that the Commission has in the region and the services and expertise we can provide in Asia. We are confident that Mr. Chalwell will be an excellent addition to the team. We are also very excited that Mr. Wheatley will be coming back to Commission headquarters after a very successful stint in Asia and look forward to his continued service to the Commission and the industry.”

Saturday, October 21, 2017

BVI Financial Services Industry Continues Functioning


According to the leaders of the British Virgin Islands financial services industry, there is no loss of confidence in the businesses, despite the severe damages done to the territory by Hurricane Irma. Head of Business Development and Marketing department in BVI Finance, Gary Hales, said: “Generally, people are still comfortable using the BVI. By way of example, there are three potential funds which are still looking at the possibility of using BVI… There is no sense of loss of confidence or business, so the BVI is definitely proving that the financial services industry is robust.”

The director of BVI House Asia in Hong Kong, Elise Donovan, confirmed that the financial services industry there is appreciative of accessibility to services; also, the Cayman Islands where all the large companies operating in the BVI are now represented, note the seamless continuation of BVI services. 

It is also important that the premises of BVI Financial Services Commission, regulating the financial industry, survived the hurricane. So, they became operational in some days, and full functionality has been restored to the online company registration portal.

Interim Executive Director at BVI Finance, Lorna Smith, said that there was a keen determination among industry partners to ensure the survival of financial services as part of the overall recovery for the British Virgin Islands.

Monday, October 16, 2017

National Bank Suspending Loan Payments


The National Bank of the Virgin Islands announced that it would put a three-month suspension on payments for all personal, residential and commercial loans, in connection with Hurricane Irma. The customers having personal loans are not required to take any action, while persons with residential mortgages and commercial loans are required to fill out and sign a form confirming the status of their property and/or business, insurance claims, and future intentions.

All payment moratorium requests are to be submitted to the Bank by October, 27, while those who wish to continue payment need only contact the bank. 

The National Bank will also host a series of community outreach sessions aimed at facilitating customers who want to take advantage of its loan concessions.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

BVI Government Establishes Business Development Fund


BVI Premier Dr D Orlando Smith announced that the Government is offering loans to persons whose businesses were damaged or destroyed during the hurricanes. He said that the BVI Government is going to create a special Business Development Fund, where businesses can apply within the next two weeks.

The fund is established in order to recover the economy struck by the storm. The Government will also provide generators to businesses that still need power after the hurricanes. The Premier said: “It is a priority for me to ensure that your local businesses are up and running and that they continue to provide goods and services to us and also jobs to our people for the continuation of our economy.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

Augustus Jaspert Became the 13th Governor of the Territory


Augustus Jaspert was sworn in as the new governor of the British Virgin Islands. The governor took the oath of allegiance and the oath of due execution of office before the audience of government ministers, high court justice, members of the House of Assembly, senior government officials and other guests.

The new governor was welcomed by BVI Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr Orlando Smith, who pledged his government's support and commitment, saying: “The BVI has much to offer and I am confident that you will make a valuable contribution to the territory’s growth and development. I encourage you to explore our beautiful islands and become intimately acquainted with the people of these islands in whose interest we must work.” 

Leader of the opposition Andrew Fahie also welcomed the new governor. The governor in his turn assured the BVI government and the opposition of his commitment to the British Virgin Islands, and said he sees his role as one of service and partnership with the elected government, public service, the United Kingdom; the faith, voluntary and community organisations, and the people of the territory.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Quarterly Statistical Bulletin Issued by BVI FSC


The BVI Financial Services Commission published the forty-seventh volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, which analyses financial services activities in the jurisdiction in the second quarter of 2017. In this period, 7,621 new business companies were incorporated in the BVI, compared to 8,695 incorporations in the previous quarter and 6,767 incorporations in the second quarter of 2016. By the end of the second quarter of 2017, cumulative number of companies in the jurisdiction made 395,684. Also, there were 29 Private Trust Companies and 22 Limited Partnerships registered in the period; their cumulative number as at 30 June, 2017 was 1,094 and 712, respectively.

According to Investment Business statistics, 6 new licences were granted to approved investment managers, and 13 Mutual funds were registered/recognised in the second quarter. In Insolvency services, total number of insolvency practitioners reached 27 (26 in the first quarter, 24 in the second quarter of 2016). In Insurance, there were 3 newly issued insurance licences, cumulative number being 175. 

International Co-operation matters in the reported quarter included 19 formal and 4 informal incoming requests, 1 formal outgoing request, 147 enforcement matters and 26 enforcement investigations. 132 ongoing supervision matters were referred to LSC (the Licensing and Supervisory Committee) in the sphere of Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary services, 38 in Investment Business, and 45 in Insurance. Further and complete information about the financial services statistics in the BVI territory can be found on the website of the Commission.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

British Virgin Islands Among Top Destinations for Offshore Investments


The research was conducted in Netherlands looking at how particular countries and jurisdictions are used by corporations to minimize their tax liabilities. It was found that the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, Singapore and Switzerland are the five large countries most popular as intermediate destinations for corporations to access low-tax financial centres. The British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong and Jersey are the largest offshore financial centres in terms of investment volume.

The report says: "Our results show that offshore finance is not the exclusive business of exotic small islands far away... Countries such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom play a crucial yet previously hidden role as conduits of offshore finance on its way to 'tax havens.'"

Thursday, June 29, 2017

BVI Implementing Beneficial Ownership Search Platform


The BVI government completed legislative requirements to implement the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search system - an innovative technology-enabled searchable portal changing the way how beneficial ownership information on BVI companies is held and accessed, and also shared with competent authorities in the BVI and the United Kingdom. The new platform was developed following the exchange of notes with the UK in April 2016.

Corporate service providers are required to upload the beneficial ownership of their clients to the new system, where the BVI competent authorities may find information available within 24 hours. By words of BVI Premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, “Through its use of technology BOSSs perfectly blends the principles of privacy and security and is entirely fit for purpose. Working with BDO, we have developed a world class platform that will benefit all stakeholders, including corporate service providers, company owners and law enforcement agencies.

Other jurisdictions are acting similarly to further improve standards for holding and making beneficial ownership information accessible to competent authorities.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Financial Services Statistics Published for the First Quarter of 2017


The BVI Financial Services Commission has published the forty-sixth volume of its Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing important statistics, analysis and information on financial services in the British Virgin Islands in the first quarter of 2017. In this period, 8695 new business companies were incorporated in the jurisdiction, compared to 7,780 companies registered in the fourth quarter of 2016, and 9,456 new companies in the first quarter of the previous year. Cumulative number of BC's incorporated in the British Virgin Islands as at 31 March 2017 was 431,776. 

Also, according to the statistics of the Registry of Corporate Affairs, in the reported period 32 Private-Trust Companies and 16 Limited Partnerships were registered (27 and 20, respectively, in the same period of 2016). 

In the Insolvency Services sector, 26 fully licensed Mutual Funds were incorporated or re-registered in the first quarter of 2017. In the Insurance Services, total number of insurers as at March 31, 2017 was 172, this figure including captives and domestic.

In the sphere of International Co-operation, there were 169 enforcement matters and 16 enforcement investigations reported. 87 ongoing supervision matters were referred to LSC and related to Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary Services, 79 were related to Investment Business, and 56 related to Insurance. Other statistics and information can be found on http://www.bvifsc.vg/.