Monday, June 30, 2008

BVI participates in FATF Meeting in London

Last week, an important meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) took place in London, - for the first time since the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) received the status of the associate member of the FATF in February 2008. During this plenary, FATF reported on the new steps taken to protect the international financial system from abuse. Among them – the reaffirmation of its February 2008 public statement on money laundering and terrorist financing risks posed by Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Sao Tome and Principe and the northern part of Cyprus. The organization also discussed and adopted four mutual evaluation reports, assessing compliance with its 40 recommendations in Hong Kong, Qatar, the UAE and the Russian Federation.

Solicitor General of the British Virgin Islands, Jo-Ann Williams-Roberts, took part in this week-long plenary meeting, and the BVI was among the 5 member countries of 30 which were allowed to join the CFATF Secretariat at the meeting.

BVI Attorney General Kanthleen Quartey noted that a closer relationship between the FATF and its Caribbean counterparts would greatly benefit the CFATF, bringing issues and perspectives of the region directly to the centre stage.

The aim of the FATF which was established in 1989 is to prevent criminals from using the international financial systems. The CFATF was formed three years later as an organization of more than 30 Caribbean region states, which have united their efforts to implement common countermeasures to criminal money laundering.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Senior Management Changes in BVI FSC

BVI FSC published two press releases in June, the first one concerning completion of two five-year employee contracts with the Commission, and the second one announcing new appointments to Senior Management posts. Press release published on June 12, 2008 included information on Michael Oliver and Christopher Hill demitting the office during this month.

Mr. Oliver has served as director of insurance industry in BVI since 2003, and during his being in the post, the BVI has become the 4th largest jurisdiction for Captive Insurance. It is mentioned in the press release that in this post he established a number of Insurance Regulatory Training Initiatives not only for FSC but also for Insurance Regulators in the region. Mr. Oliver also played great role in the promotion of the BVI's new Insurance Act passed in the beginning of the year.

Mr. Hill was recruited as the BVI's first director of Insolvency Services, having the specific task of setting up the FSC's insolvency regime and implementing the provisions of Insolvency Act, 2003 – including recruitment and training of staff, designing systems and controls, advising on legislation and regulations and providing licenses to Insolvency Practitioners.

On June 19, 2008, the new appointments were announced: Mr. David Abednego was named as the new Acting Director of Insolvency services, while Mr. Elton Lettsome became the Acting Director of Insurance sector. Mr. Abednego is an attorney who was admitted to practice law in the BVI in 1998; in 2004 he started to work in the FSC, was assigned to the Insolvency Services Division in the role of Deputy Director, Insolvency Services and Deputy Official Receiver, and was the principal assistant to Mr. Hill. Now, in the role of Acting Director, Insolvency Services/Official Receiver, Mr. Abednego will lead the Commission's Insolvency Services Division and serve as the Territory's Official Receiver.

Mr. Elton Lettsome became associated with Insurance regulation in 1992, when he was recruited by the Ministry of Finance of BVI as an Assistant Regulator. Mr. Lettsome who holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Finance from the University of Florida, has represented the Commission at various international insurance seminars, conferences and workshops.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

PRC Remains Most Attractive Destination of FDI, BVI Ranks 2nd Among FDI sources

The Ministry of Commerce of China published figures for actual FDI inflows into the country's economy, totaling $42.78 billion from January to May 2008 – this is a 54.97% increase from the previous year. Only in May, FDI stood at $7.76 billion, that is 37.94 % higher than in the previous year.

According to the information published by the Ministry of Commerce, about 11,915 new overseas-funded enterprises were established in the first five months of this year, that is down 20.95% from the previous year, and in May there were 2,425 new enterprises – down 10.94%.

The top three leading countries in the five months of the year 2008 by the amount of FDI are the same as in the statistical bulletin for the first quarter of the year 2008 – Hong Kong, British Virgin Islands (in the second place), and Singapore.

By the results of this statistical bulletin, as well as according to the Ernst & Young latest survey among business leaders, China is still in the first place among the countries most attractive for foreign direct investments. This survey reflected more equal distribution of global investments across the world, and 41% of respondents still ranked China as the most attractive investment destination, followed by India and Russia. However, China still draws less than 8% of global volume of FDI inflows, according to the information published by the United Nations Commission for Trade and Development.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Digicel Announces the Appointment of New CEO of British Virgin Islands

Digicel, the fastest growing mobile operator in the Caribbean and new entrant to the Central American market, has announced this week the promotion of Alan Bates to the position of Digicel CEO British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Alan Bates is a 10-year telecommunications industry expert and former sales director for Digicel Bermuda and the Dutch Caribbean. Prior to joining Digicel he worked as a consultant and held a number of senior sales and management positions in the Irish telecommunications company ESAT. He has worked with Digicel since 2003 in many posts, being head of sales and distribution for Digicel Aruba and head of sales and distribution for the Dutch Caribbean region. In 2006, he was promoted to sales director for Bermuda subsidiary where he played an instrumental role on the team that led Digicel to the number one position in the market, increased the total number of subscribers by more than 100% since 2006, and made Digicel Bermuda as the number one cellular provider in the market.

Kevin White, Digicel Group COO, has commented on the appointment of Alan Bates in BVI: “As CEO, Alan will leverage his vast experience to ensure Digicel's entry into BVI delivers crystal clear coverage, excellent customer care and innovative services that offer customers the best value for their money”.

After Digicel was granted a GSM license in December 2007, to operate in the British Virgin Islands, the company is set to launch its 24th market before the end of the year 2008. Now the company is looking forward to build a state-of-the-art network, and provide close to 100% population coverage. In December 2007, Digicel recorded six million customers, having invested more than US$2 billion in 23 markets.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Vietnam Attracts More than Double FDI Level in January-May 2008, BVI Ranking the Second

The Foreign Investment Agency of Vietnam has published a report on foreign direct investments in the economy of the country, from January to May 2008. The Agency informed that the level of Foreign Direct Investments attracted in this period was 2.6 times higher than in the same period last year, and reached $15.3 billion.

It is stated in the report that 130 foreign investment projects worth a cumulative $7.5 billion received licences in May, so the total number of new projects licensed this year was 324, worth more than $14.7 billion. Additionally, 132 FDI projects raised their combined capital by $605 mln this year, representing an increase of 67% over the same period of 2007.

FDI increase was attributed to a dozen of newly-licensed projects, which have large-scale investment of over $1 billion. The largest foreign investment project of the reported period is the $4.2 billion tourist centre, five-star hotel and entertainment complex being built by the Canada-based Asian Coast Development Ltd. in the southern province of Vietnam. This project, together with two others at a combined worth of $4.23 billion, moved Canada from the 22nd to the first place in the list of FDI investors. As in the previous statistics published, British Virgin Islands are in the second place with $2.69 billion, and Singapore with $2.23 billion is the third.

$13 billion (83% of the total FDI for the reported period) of the total FDI amount went to the service sector, $2.35 billion were invested into the industry and construction sectors, the remainder going into the agro-forestry-fishery sectors of Vietnam's economy.