Friday, January 26, 2007

BVI Chief Minister is Asked to Proclaim Information on Constitutional Changes

We have already discussed negotiations over changes for the new BVI Constitution, which have started in March 2006, and came to its third round in November 2006. The Constitutional talks were held over the past months on the new constitution for the territory by a delegation from the BVI and UK.

It seems that the political situation around the above-mentioned talks is becoming more sensitive at the moment. On Wednesday, January 24, the opposition leader Ralph O'Neal has requested Honourable Dr. D. Orlando Smith to tell the people of the BVI what is expected from the final round of constitutional talks.

The leader of the opposition, who is also a member of the BVI Constitutional negotiating team, has noted that the new Constitution is meant for the people of the British Virgin Islands who have to live with the constitution. He said that it is important that the leader of government business, who is the main leader in the country, to tell the people what is expected to be achieved in London as a result of these Constitutional talks.

O'Neal position is that the following questions are of the most importance to be disclosed to people of the British Virgin Islands:

  • whether the Governor will remain as chairman of the Executive Council,
  • whether the police and the civil service will be removed from under the Governor,
  • whether the Deputy Governor will become the head of the civil service,
  • whether the Solicitor General will be a constitutional post,
  • whether the Attorney General should still sit in Executive Council.

The final round of constitutional talks is to take place in London from February 26 to March 2. Ralph O'Neal considers his personal radio speech as an alternative way of informing people of the BVI about constitutional talks if above mentioned questions are not made public till the end of this month.

It is worth to be added that BVI Government has made efforts to keep this process public, for example by holding public meetings, to get public opinion on what should be included in particular Chapters of a new Constitution.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Appleby Announces Its Launch in Mauritus

Appleby Hunter Bailhache Group, which recently announced the join of a new lawyer to the Hong Kong office of the firm, in the mid of January has launched an office in the Republic of Mauritius.

The Appleby Group is one of the leading offshore legal, fiduciary and administration service provider with major offices in four leading offshore business centres worldwide – British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Jersey, and having offices in London and Hong Kong. Appleby has expanded rapidly in the last three years, with a total staff of 600 including 45 partners. The Mauritius is the firm's fifth offshore location.

The two-partner office in the Mauritius is expected to expand rapidly, further extending the services the firm offers to clients, and providing clients with greater access to the emerging African and Asian markets, with India as a particular target. The firm's clients in North America, Europe and Asia are looking for the resources of a global offshore services firm, to create efficient investment structures through an independent and well-placed sovereign country.

Mauritius is a member of the WTO, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern African Development Community. It is also party to a number of double taxation treaties. The country provides the effective commercial and legal infrastructure required for developing a global business network. Now there are more than 30,000 offshore companies registered in the island, and 460 registered global funds with a Net Asset Value of more than US$ 35 bn.

The Appleby office, which will work under the name of Appleby Ltd. (Mauritius International), will open in February 2007 in the capital Port Louis, with Mauritian partner Gilbert Noel, and Malcolm Moller who is transferring from the firm's Bermuda office; also with two associates and support staff. The Appleby Group is planning to hire Mauritian lawyers, for advising clients in Asia, Europe and North America on the opportunities offered by the Mauritius office.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Lawyer Joins Appleby to Work in the Area of Capital Market

Appleby Hunter Bailhache Group, which was formed in September 2006 as a result of merger between two offshore law firms, is one of the leading providers of offshore legal, fiduciary and administration services, with major offices in four of the world's leading offshore business centres - Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Jersey, as well as in London and Hong Kong. The parties to the merger transaction were Appleby Spurling Hunter, whose areas were Corporate & Commercial, Litigation & Insolvency, Trusts and Property, and Bailhache Labesse, a Jersey-based company providing legal, fiduciary and administrative solutions.

Last month the firm has announced that Patrick Schmid has joined the Corporate and Commercial practice group in the Hong Kong office of the firm. Mr. Schmid, as a lawyer, brings a wide range of experience in the firm, including his work in the Latin American region. His primary areas of practice will be the areas of capital markets, cross-border project financing, mutual funds, securitisations and derivatives.

Before joining Appleby, Mr. Schmid was a Partner at Mourant du Feu & Jeune. Until then, for six years he worked as a Senior Associate lawyer for Maples and Calder, one of the leading offshore advisors.

Mr. Schmid was admitted to be an attorney in the Cayman Islands in 1998. He is actively serving on several boards and Governmental bodies in the Cayman community, in the capacity of Chairman or Deputy Chairman, including the Immigration Review Team, the Immigration Board, the Labour Appeals Tribunal, the Planning Appeals Tribunal, the National Drug Council and the United World Colleges National Foundation.

Mr Schmid was welcomed to the Appleby Hunter Bailhache by Huw Moses, Managing Partner of the Cayman Islands Office, who said, 'We are pleased to welcome Patrick to our rapidly growing team. Patrick is a perfect fit for our Corporate and Commercial practice and our team will benefit from his expertise'.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Team BVI Members, Part II

Back to Team BVI. In previous blogpost devoted to the Team BVI I wrote about Mrs. Lorna Smith and her special role in telling the world about the British Virgin Islands, its great people, culture, art and financial services of course.

Today I would like to tell about two persons representing Financial Regulator – the BVI Financial Services Comission in the Team BVI.

Mrs. Jennifer Potter is Deputy Managing Director of the BVI FSC and her focus area is Financial Regulation. She was appointed Deputy Managing Director of Regulation and Corporate Services on April 1st, 2005. During these years many news and press releases have been published with her signature in English, German and other languages, where BVI FSC informed the community on important issues. However this is not the only part of her duties. Before her appointment as Deputy Managing Director for many years she was already working with Financial Services Commission where she received experience and got ever more responsibility in her positions. Mrs. Jennifer Potter has received Masters of Business Administration (Finance) in 2001 and Bachelors of Science (Information Systems) in 1993.

Miss Ruth Chadwick is the Director of Investment Business at the BVI FSC and her focus area also is Financial Regulation. She was appointed as the Director of Investment Business of the BVI FSC, with effect from 1 June, 2002. Ms. Chadwick is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting, with an impressive career in both the public and private sectors in the UK. She brings to the FSC an extensive industry background in compliance.

She has also experience at the Investment Management Regulatory Organisation (IMRO).

Miss Ruth Chadwick has brought her experience in regulatory and in asset management spheres to her post of the Director of the Investment Business division of the BVI FSC. She charts the road ahead for the BVI, to remain competitive as hedge funds move onshore, and for the regulator to protect investors as much as listening to managers.

She is welcomed speaker at many international conferences devoted to offshore and onshore financial services, especially investment business and regulatory issues. About a month ago we already met with her in the BVI Business News in the post devoted to seminar for London-based executives in the mutual and hedge fund industries.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

BVI Official Gazette Launched

As it had been announced before by the representatives of Deputy Governor's Office, BVI Official Gazette was launched on January 1, 2007. This is the beginning of a new modern chapter of the Official Gazette of the British Virgin Islands. It is worth mentioning that BVI Deputy Governor's Office launched it’s website a month ago.

BVI Official Gazette is published weekly by the Deputy Governor’s Office. As to its contents, it includes government, legal, liquidation and other notices as well as Bills, Acts, Statutory Instruments and other important official documents.

Electronic subscription can be both paid (Enhanced version) and free (Basic version). Paid subscription costs USD 500 per year and it gives the possibility to use complete access to all Official Gazettes, including Liquidation and Other notices, to search all the archives as well as to receive an e-mail alert whenever an Ordinary or Extraordinary Gazette is published on-line.

The history of BVI Official Gazette goes back to the late 1800s, when the BVI's 1st Official Gazette – the Leeward Islands Official Gazette – was printed in Antigua. The 1st issue of the Virgin Islands Official Gazette was published in 1967. Since then, its growth and development are obvious. The below-mentioned data signifies that these were both quantitative and qualitative:

Year Pages Notices
1967 ^ 85 ^ 169
1976 ^ 195 ^ 477
1986 ^ 296 ^ 338
1996 ^ 857 ^ 4,368
2006 ^ 1,911 ^ 11,613

It goes without saying that qualitative development is signified by the establishment of the Online version for the BVI Official Gazette at bvigazette.org.