Wednesday, July 08, 2015

BVI FSC Published Financial Services Statistics for Q1 2015


BVI Financial Services Commission has published thirty-eighth volume of the Financial Services Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, which provides statistics and information on financial services activities for the first quarter of 2015. In this period, there were 12,354 new company incorporations in the jurisdiction, - this is an increase compared to 11,436 companies incorporated in the fourth quarter of 2014, but fall in number of companies registered in the first quarter of the previous year (14,062). Cumulative number of companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands as at 31 March 2015 was 478,865. Also, there were 1,104 Private Trust Companies and 701 Limited Partnerships registered in the jurisdiction at the end of Q1 2015.

According to the Investment Business statistics, 8 Professional and 4 Private Mutual Fund licences were granted in the first quarter of 2015. As at 31 March, 2015, cumulative number of Professional Mutual Fund licences granted was 1,479, and number of Private Mutual Fund licences was 525. Also, there were 83 Public Mutual Funds and 5 Foreign Mutual Funds registered in the jurisdiction. 

In the Insurance sector, the number of insurers and functionaries has not changed since the fourth quarter of 2014; as at 31 March, 2015, the total number of 221 insurance and functionaries licences was granted in BVI.

In the areas of Legal and Enforcement and International Cooperation, there were 29 enforcement matters in the reported period (24 in the fourth quarter of 2014). Also, the Commission issued statistics regarding ongoing supervision matters reviewed by the Licensing and Supervisory Committee, and the Onsite Inspections. Further information about financial services in the BVI jurisdiction in the first quarter of 2015 can be found on BVI FSC homepage.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Caribbean Community Issues Statement on Tax Haven Blacklisting


Following the European Commission’s decision to put some Caribbean jurisdictions – members of the Caribbean Community – on the “black list” as non-willing to co-operate with EU countries in the area of tax law enforcement, CARICOM issued a statement strongly objecting this, and emphasizing efforts of CARICOM member states to comply with regulatory measures.

BVI is among the “blacklisted” countries, along with Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The criteria for considering the countries as non-cooperative included governance (transparency and exchange of information) and fair tax competition.

It is remarkable that in a formal statement issued by the OECD Global Forum this month, it has disassociated itself with the decision of the European Commission, although their own assessment was relevant for the purposes of determining country’s cooperation in tax matters. From the Global Forum statement, it became clear that the EU point of view does not correspond with that of the Global Forum, which, in its turn, is planning to extend support to its member countries put on the black list.

Monday, June 08, 2015

BVI and Qianhai Held Cooperative Development Forum


On May 26, the Qianhai-British Virgin Islands (BVI) Cooperative Development forum was held in Shenzhen, PRC, hosted by deputy-directors general of Qianhai Authority who provided latest information on Qianhai’s achievements and future plans. More than 200 financial practitioners and enterprise representatives took part in the forum.

Under the name “Development for cross-border finance under new economic circumstances”, the forum included discussions related to cooperation between BVI and Qianhai, BVI business opportunities and legislation. A panel discussion was held named “How to promote the interaction and development of Qianhai and BVI cross-border financial business.”

Director of BVI House Asia, Elise Donovan, represented the advantages of BVI financial services and company structures used for fund management and asset protection, and said that the territory is ready to deepen bilateral relations with China.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

General Elections 2015: 42 Candidates


In the 2015 general elections in BVI, which will take place on June 8, 42 candidates were nominated in total, of them 13 candidates from the National Democratic Party and the Virgin Islands Party, 5 candidates from the People’s Empowerment Party, 3 candidates from the People’s Progressive Coalition.

At the district level, 6 persons were nominated as independent candidates, and at the territorial at-large lecvel, there are 2 independent candidates nominated.

On Friday, June 5, there will be advance polling day, followed by polling day on Monday.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

General Elections in BVI to be Held in June


The next general election in the British Virgin Islands is set on June 8, a proclamation was published in the Gazette on May 7. The House of Assembly was dissolved on May 1, 2015.

During the general elections, National Democratic Party (NDP), together with its leader Premier Dr Orlando Smith, will try to defend its majority in the House and, in case of success, it will be the first political party in the jurisdiction ruling for 16 years consecutively.

The main opposition will be represented by Virgin Islands Party (VIP), which is led by Julian Fraser. Former premier and leader of the opposition Ralph O’Neal will not participate in the election 2015. There is also a party, newly launched in March 2014, which can change the final results and the political scene of the country, for the first time since 1995 – the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP), led by sitting member of the House, Alvin Christopher.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Report Issued on BVI Financial Services Industry


The BVI government commissioned the report on BVI Financial services sector, which was facilitated by multinational consulting firm McKinsey, with participation of the industry and other stakeholders. The final report named ‘Building on a thriving and sustainable Financial Services sector in the British Virgin Islands’ has the purpose to work out implementation plan to ensure the development of BVI financial services industry.

Premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, commented, “For three decades we experienced tremendous growth in our financial services industry, became one of the largest domiciles for company incorporations, and established a global brand that reached through the Americas, into Europe, and across the Asia Pacific Region. Financial services directly account for over 60 percent of our government revenues, and likely upwards of 80 percent of indirect sources are included.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Deputy Premier Represents BVI at ECLAC Session


BVI deputy premier and minister for natural resources and labour, Dr Kedrick Pickering had a meeting with executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Alicia Barcena in Santiago, Chile, during the 16th extraordinary session of the Committee of the Whole of ECLAC, being Territory representative on behalf of the BVI Premier Dr Orlando Smith.

At this session, consultations were held to establish a forum of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on sustainable development, and the deputy premier reiterated the need for the inclusion of associate members in the proposed forum. He spoke about the importance of greater engagement between the organization and the British Virgin Islands as its associate member.

The Committee of the Whole is a subsidiary body of the organization, which gives an opportunity for representatives of member countries to meet between ECLAC official sessions.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

GFCI Ranks BVI First among Offshore Jurisdictions


According to the recently published Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), BVI offshore jurisdiction is on the 34th position – 13 positions higher than in the previous list. British Virgin Islands has the highest rank among its competitors, including Cayman Islands, Channel Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda.

Executive director of BVI Finance, Kedrick Malone, commented on the GFCI results, saying: "… The result of the index clearly shows that the BVI is an internationally respected, established and pioneering financial centre…The BVI's position as the leading offshore financial centre is testament to the strength and high standards of our multi-faceted financial services sector, the professional in its rank and the regulatory regime that it operates within."

The Index is based on the existing information and online survey results taking into account more than hundred different factors, including regulations, workforce, and companies operating in the financial centre and providing financial services.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Revised Guidance Notes on FATCA Published by BVI


BVI jurisdiction has updated guidance notes concerning the international tax compliance requirements under its intergovernmental agreements with the US and the UK, drawing attention to the revised deadline of June 30, 2015, for financial institutions to report with respect to the 2014, for financial institutions to report under the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). The original version was issued in July 2015.

Also, it became known that the BVI Financial Account Reporting System (BVIFARS) will be available for use from April 15, 2015, when authorities will start to accept applications for enrolment from reporting financial institutions.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Workshop on BVI Financial Services Held for Teachers


According to the Ministry of Education of the British Virgin Islands, a training workshop was organized for teachers of secondary schools. The five-day exercise, which was held from March 23 until March 27, had the purpose to educate business teachers on the financial services industry in the jurisdiction, and provide them information to share with students. The training was facilitated by Director of the Financial Services Institute.

Managing Director of LGS and Associates, Mrs Lorna Smith praised the teachers for their willingness to learn about financial services. Also, Minister for Education and Culture of the British Virgin Islands urged them to use information from the workshop to ensure that students are ready to start their careers in the financial services sector.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thirty Seventh Volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin Issued by BVI FSC


The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission has published the thirty seventh volume of Statistical Bulletin, providing information about financial services in the BVI for the fourth quarter of the year 2014. In the three months period ended December 2014, 11,436 new Business companies were registered in the jurisdiction, according to the Registry of Corporate Affairs – compared to 13,865 companies incorporated in the third quarter of 2014, and 11,375 companies in the fourth quarter of the previous year. Cumulative number of active BVI BCs as at the December 31, 2014 was 457,971. The statistics shows the slight decrease in the number of new companies incorporated in 2014, as compared to 2013, and the decrease is more significant if compared to the peak years of 2011 and 2012.

In the sector of Investment Business, 11 new licenses were granted to Functionaries, and 28 licenses were issued to Mutual Funds. There were 2,142 Mutual Funds registered/recognised in the British Virgin Islands as at 31 December 2014.

Insolvency Services statistics shows that the total number of Licensed Insolvency Services Practitioners in the fourth quarter of 2014 was 26. In Insurance Services sector, total cumulative number of insurance and functionaries licenses granted at the end of the period was 224.

In the sphere of Legal International Cooperation, in the fourth quarter of 2014 there were 18 international cooperation matters requiring disclosure of non-public information, 2 informal requests and 24 enforcement matters. Further information concerning ongoing supervision matters, referred to the Licensing and Supervisory Committee, the number of concluded onsite inspections and other statistics can be found on the BVI FSC homepage.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

BVI House Asia Participates in Asian Wealth Management Forum


BVI represented its offshore services industry at the 5th annual Asia Wealth Management Forum 2015, which was held in Hong Kong, sponsored by BVI House Asia and hosted more than 100 Chief Executive Officers, senior management and other industry practitioners. The themes discussed at the forum included the trends in all segments of the wealth management industry in the region. BVI House Asia were interacting with wealth management practitioners to introduce the presence of the jurisdiction in Asia, and the use of BVI offshore tools and structures in wealth planning schemes.  

The BVI House Asia table included the Director of the BVI House Asia, Elise Donovan, as well as Chief Operating Officer of BVI House Asia Heather Tang, Deputy Director of Banking at the Financial Services Commission of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) Michelle Georges, and Team BVI Asia Member Barry Mitchell.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

British Virgin Islands Host EU Meetings


BVI will host three high level European Union meetings, which are scheduled this week with participation of senior EU officials from UK, France, Denmark and Netherlands, as well as OT’s political leaders. By words of Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith, the meetings are the culmination of hard work over the past months. The Premier will co-chair with the European Commission a Caribbean Regional Conference for OTs that will focus on how the territories can work together to achieve sustainable development.

Hon. Orlando Smith will also be the chairman of the OCTA Ministerial Conference where the heads of Government and political leaders will participate in a number of discussions; he will also be the participant of the 13th OCT-EU Forum which is the main vehicle for political dialogue between the European Union and the Overseas Territories. An important part of the talks will be the future of the Overseas Countries and Territories in the European Union.

The British Virgin Islands also manage the project for small and medium sized enterprises on behalf of the Caribbean OTs, which is funded by European Union, and is expected to benefit local small business sector.

Monday, February 16, 2015

BVI Ranks First Among FDI Investors in Vietnam


Foreign Investment Agency in Vietnam informed that in January 2015 the country has attracted more than US$663 million in FDI, which is 67 per cent higher than in the same period of 2014. The British Virgin Islands is number one investor in the economy of the country, its US$331.32 million making half of the total amount. In January, the BVI launched a luxury clothing production project worth US$300 million.  Other leaders among 15 countries that invested in Vietnam in this month are South Korea, with US$110,25 million, and Hong Kong, with US$105.5 million.

Main spheres for FDI in January are process engineering, wholesale and retail, as well as water and electricity production and distribution. As of January 20, US$505 million of FDI were invested in Vietnam. In 2014, the country attracted US$20 billion.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

UK Opposition Leader Issued Letter to UK Overseas Territories


The leader of the UK Opposition Ed Miliband issued a letter to the leaders of British overseas territories, including the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and others, where he said they would have six months to make a public register of offshore companies, in order not to be put on an international blacklist of countries that refused to take measures against tax avoidance.

Mr. Miliband said: "If any Overseas Territory or Crown Dependency does not meet this deadline, we will ask the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to put them on the OECD's tax haven blacklist."

The plan of the leader of the Labour Party was criticised by Conservative Treasury minister David Gauke who said: "the UK is the only country in the OECD committed to a public central register. He wants the OECD to blacklist countries if they don't do the same as us. But that would mean blacklisting every single country in the OECD apart from the UK – countries like the US, France and Germany.”

Saturday, January 17, 2015

BVI Government Launches Labour Force Survey


From January 19, 2015, the BVI government will conduct a month long labour force survey in the Virgin Islands, working in partnership with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat.

By words of the Director of the Central Statistics Office, Raymond Phillips, this survey provides estimates of employment and unemployment, which are important indicators of economic stability. The survey results will be used to produce employment and unemployment rates, as well as their estimates by industry, private and public sectors, occupation and hours worked.

The labour force survey is funded with resources from the 10th European Development Fund, also support and assistance is provided by the International Labour Organisation and by the EU under the Economic Integration and Trade of the OECS Region project.

Monday, January 12, 2015

BVI in Top Three of Foreign Investors in Philippines


The Board of Investments of Philippines released foreign investments statistics for 2014, which showed the significant 69.42% decrease if compared to 2013. Netherlands are the top source of foreign investments in the country, while Indonesia became the second FDI source. According to BOI data, Netherlands has seven registered projects in Philippines in 2014, the largest of which was the expansion project of 99% Dutch owned Unilever Philippines Inc.

British Virgin Islands, which remained one of the largest foreign investors of the country, is in the third place of the ranking, followed by Switzerland, UK and Japan; however, its investments have substantially declined as compared to 2013. The biggest investment project of the BVI was the Shangri-La Hotel and Services apartments at the Bonifacio Global City.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

BVI Government Introduces Measures to Increase Revenues


The British Virgin Islands Government reported the increase of tax revenue in 2013 by 3.3 percent as compared to the previous year. Payroll taxes increased by 8.5% in 2013, and revenues from property tax and trade taxes decreased.

The BVI Government is implementing a number of measures in the 2015 Budget to expand revenue of the territory. Among the measures that will be undertaken there is changing the current structure of work permits so that fees will be based on occupation type. The Government will also return to imposing import duties on cost, insurance and freight value basis, and review current legislation to provide revenue collecting agencies with more power to enforce compliance.

The Government is also planning to close loopholes in BVI tax and fee structures and make sure that fees cover the costs of providing services. From 2016, a tourist arrival levy will be introduced.

Friday, December 19, 2014

BVI Maintains Leading Position as to Company Incorporations Activity


Global provider of offshore legal, fiduciary and administration services Appleby has published On the Register report, which provides information on company incorporations in offshore jurisdictions in the first half of 2014.

According to the report, total number of company registrations increased in offshore jurisdictions by 4%, compared to the previous six month period, and made 46,455 new companies. The British Virgin Islands remains dominating jurisdiction as to the volume of new company incorporations: in the first half of the year, 25,533 new companies were registered in the jurisdiction, which is a 6% increase on the previous six months. The BVI maintains far ahead of its follower – the Cayman Islands, which had the largest increase in new company incorporations in this period.

By words of Farah Ballands, Partner and Global Head of Fiduciary & Administration Services at Appleby, “This year is off to an encouraging start, with levels of active companies on the offshore company registers continuing to hold steady.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

New Members of the Board Appointed to BVI Financial Services Commission


Five new Commissioners have been appointed to the Board of the BVI FSC, effective 1 October 2014. The new members Ms. Denise Reovan, Mr. Ian Smith, Mr. Richard Peters and external Commissioners, Mr. Jonathan Fietcher and Mr. Edward Price will join Chairman Mr. Robin Gaul, Deputy Chairman Mr. Colin O’Neal and Managing Director/CEO of the FSC Mr. Robert Mathavious.

The newly appointed Commissioners replace previous members of the Board Ms. Eleanor Smith, Mr. E. Walwyn Brewley and Mr. Phillip Fenty whose appointments had expired. The Financial Services Commission Act, 2001 provides for the appointment of two external Commissioners to be appointed from outside the jurisdiction.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

BVI recognized as Major Offshore Centre in International Reports


The British Virgin Islands jurisdiction has been named the top offshore centre in the Global Financial Centres Index – the 16th survey of more than 3,500 international financial services professionals. Also, already for the fifth year, BVI became the most important offshore jurisdiction according to the Offshore 2020 report, which is a survey of 300 senior financial industry stakeholders from many countries. The BVI was ranked in the 47th place – the highest among offshore centres. Gibraltar is in the 53rd place, Cayman Islands and Bermuda are 54th and 58th, respectively.

The fifth Offshore 2020 report stated that offshore industry has emerged during this year, featuring better regulation, more transparency and higher degree of professionalism. It was noted in the report also that offshore centres continue to struggle with reputation and regulation, and for all of them, ratings lowered since the last Global Financial Centre Index 15. The report also highlights recognition of the offshore industry role in the global financial supply chain, including international trade, capital efficiency and asset management.