Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BVI FSC Issues Advisory Warning Informing the Public on Pyramid Schemes

Last week the second Advisory Warning was published by the BVI FSC, concerning NewNetQuest as a potential pyramid scheme targeting BVI residents. The document reveals general principles of the scheme referred to as a pyramide, and its main point based on the fact that those who have initiated the scheme get benefit, while those in its bottom lose most. It is especially noted that pyramid schemes may be masked as legitimate investment opportunities, offering packages which may be purchased for varying amounts, high investments return, and/or share percentage of net advertising revenue.

BVI FSC made the public aware that it does not regulate such schemes, and has not authorised or endorsed NewNetQuest. Members of the public are advised to exercise extreme caution dealing with NewNetQuest and other similar schemes, and are also invited to provide the Commission with any information on questionable entities operating in or from within the BVI.

The advisory warning, issued under Section 4 (1)(1) of the Financial Services Commission Act, 2001, was published on 25 July 2008 and signed by Robert A. Mathavious, Managing Director/CEO of the Commission.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BVI files evidence to UK Offshore Inquiry

In the beginning of July, the BVI government has submitted evidence to the United Kingdom's parliamentary committee's offshore inquiry. With this move, the jurisdiction became the latest offshore financial center in a growing list to have this done.

With the submission, the territory's government made an attempt to convey the message that the British Virgin Islands is widely recognized as a jurisdiction operating a robust regulatory and supervisory regime in financial services, and that it has a well-established system of international cooperation. Its system of international cooperation has been recognized by such international organizations as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to Lorna Smith, Executive Director of the BVI International Finance Centre, this is the strong message to have been processed to the Inquiry into Offshore Financial Centres by the UK Parliament's Treasury Select Committee. She also explained that BVI has proved that “it is up to the task of maintaining a high quality of regulation as it grows and develops".

Besides BVI, evidence has been submitted to the inquiry by the authorities in the Cayman Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and Bermuda.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

FAC publishes Report on BVI and other British Overseas Territories

On July 6, 2008, a report on the British Overseas Territories was published by Britain’s Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC).

The FAC was appointed by the House of Commons in order to examine the administration, expenditure and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and its associated agencies.

The main conclusions and recommendations outlined in the report regarded such aspects as Constitutional relationship, Governance, Consultation and representation, Rule of Law, Human Rights, Environmental governance, Contingent liabilities, Illegal immigration, Regulation of civil aviation as well as HMG’s overall approach to the Overseas Territories.

Tha main message from the Chairman of the Committee, Mike Gapes MP addressed to the BVI can be characterized by the following his quotation: “We recommend that the FCO should encourage Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Gibraltar to continue to make progress in improving financial regulation, in particular in arrangements for investigating money laundering.”

Regarding the situation in fighting money laundering in other UK dependencies, British MP and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Mike Gapes was more strict: “We are concerned by the National Audit Office’s finding that the FCO has been complacent in managing the risk of money laundering in Anguilla, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands”.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

BVI FSC Publishes Advisory Warning Based on the FATF Public Statement

On June 9, the BVI Financial Services Commission published the first advisory warning of the year, related to a public statement issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on 28 February, 2008. In this statement, the international organization noted the deficiencies in the regimes of anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing (AML/CFT) in Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Sao Tome and Principe and the northern part of Cyprus.

With respect to these jurisdictions, the FATF expressed concern about the risks that remain in all of them and constitute money laundering and financing of terrorism vulnerability in the international financial system. However, the organization noted progress in adopting AML/CFT legislation and improving AML/CFT regime in most of these countries.

In relation to this public statement by FATF on money laundering and terrorist financing risks, the BVI FSC advises the public and all the persons required to comply with the requirements of the Anti-money Laundering Regulations, 2008 and the Anti-money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice, 2008, to note the concerns expressed by FATF, and consider the risks that could arise when dealing with customers or transactions involving any of these six jurisdictions.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

New Airport Being Developed in the British Virgin Islands

BVI Premier Hon. Ralph T. O'Neal said that the renovated Virgin Gorda airport will have the capacity to accomodate 19 seater planes. The project of the complete purchase and development of the airport started in 2002; now, by words of Premier, the new airport will replace a narrow 1960-era airstrip built by administrators of the high-end Little Dix Bay resort. The facility was sold to the government in the late 1990s.

British-based Halcrow Group Ltd. has signed a contract to upgrade the Virgin Gorda site over the next year. Earlier, the company developed airstrips in Montserrat and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Harbor Charges Implemented by BVI Ports Authority from July 1

The British Virgin Islands Ports Authority enforces harbor charges effective today (July 1, 2008). Under the new fee structure, vessels entering and remaining in the territorial waters of the BVI will be charged $1 per foot for the first day, $0.75 per foot for the second day and $0.50 per foot for the third day. Vessels using Ports Authority facilities will be levied harbor charges in the amount of $1 per foot of vessel length per day, boats less than 15 feet and those that are home ported in the BVI are exempt from the harbor charges.

By words of Minister of Communications and Works Julian Fraser, for the Ports Authority, as a self-funded organization responsible for the development and maintenance of its infrastructure, it is necessary to collect harbor charges.

In 1991, the Ports Authority awarded a contract to a Canadian firm Sedley & Co. to study the authority's financial situation, and it recommended another fee structure that would ensure the economic viability of the organization. The regulations went into effect in 1997, but have never been enforced until now.