Sunday, September 28, 2008

BVI FSC Warns Publics about Unauthorised Financial Services Providers

On September 22, 2008, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission has published Advisory Warning No.3 concerning the activities of the company Offshore Health and Travel Benefits. By this Advisory Warning, the BVI FSC had the purpose to warn public against dealing with unauthorised financial services providers.

According to the information announced by the BVI FSC, Offshore Health and Travel Benefits has not received any license or authorisation “to conduct any form of regulated financial services business in or from within the BVI, and as such has not been authorised to conduct insurance business in or from within the BVI.”

Offshore Health and Travel Benefits has solicited insurance business through its website at www. tilloglobe .com, and an advertisement in the British Virgin Islands media. Meanwhile, the BVI FSC informed the public that Offshore Health and Travel Benefits have not been accessed by the Commission to be allowed to carry on insurance or any type of financial services business in or from within the BVI.

Members of the public are also invited to provide the BVI FSC with any information concerning Offshore Health and Travel Benefits and its activities, as well as any other unlicensed entities operating in the similar way in or from within the BVI territory.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

BVI FSC Issues New Guidance Notes on the Mutual Funds Act, 1996

On September 16, 2008, the BVI Financial Services Commission published 'The Mutual Funds Act, 1996 Guidance Notes On Mutual Fund Annual Returns'. The Guidance Notes issued with respect to the Mutual Funds Act, 1996, include “the Mutual Fund Annual Returns” Form, which may be completed by any director, officer or otherwise authorised representative of the reporting fund. The return must be submitted within the six months after the end of the reporting period to BVI FSC.

Currently issued Guidance Notes consist of two parts. The first part named “Notes on Authorisation” includes information on how to fill in the name of reporting fund, the Certificate number, the reporting period, how to select the characteristics of the entity, how to indicate the names and addresses of approved functionaries. The second part of the document named “Notes on Fund Information” includes other important matters concerning General Asset Allocation, Asset Allocation by Jurisdiction, Investment Information, and Summary Expenses including management expenses, performance expenses, administration and professional expenses.

BVI is one of the most popular offshore mutual funds jurisdiction. There are more than 2.5 thousand active mutual and hedge funds in the BVI.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Appointment to the Post of Deputy Governor

In the beginning of this week, Mrs. V. Inez Archibald took office as Deputy Governor of the British Virgin Islands. She was appointed to this post by the Queen in late August, and is the second woman and the fourth Virgin Islander to take the post of Deputy Governor since it was established in 1977.

Mrs. V. Inez Archibald has had a long career in the public and private sectors, as the former CEO of J.S. Archibald & Co., the Director of J.S. Archibald Trust Services, and Managing Director of a property development company Jipfa Investments Ltd. She has also served as a member and chairman of the Public Service Commission, as a member of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, the Income Tax Appeal Board and the Board of the Family Support Network. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Business Administration from Rollins College in Florida, a Master's Degree in Religion from Stetson University in Florida, and a Masters Degree in Divinity from Emory University in Georgia.

In this post Mrs. Archibald succeeds Ms. Dancia Penn, which was appointed as Deputy Governor of BVI in September 2004. In the interim between Ms. Penn and Mrs. Archibald’s substantive appointments, former Deputy Governor Mr. Elton Georges was re-appointed by BVI Governor David Pearey in March 2007, to replace Mrs. Dancia Penn.

As the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Archibald will assist the Governor in the exercise of various functions. During her first day in the Deputy Governor's office, she met with his Excellency the Governor David Pearey, and was introduced to the office staff.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

British Virgin Islands relations with neighbours: Support and Exchange of Experience

In August 2008, the four-member BVI delegation led by Registrar-General Stephanie Benn visited the Dominican Republic, with a fact-finding mission of immigration, visa, and security matters. Other participant of the delegation is Mrs. Carolyn Stoutt Igwe – the Assistant Secretary in the BVI Premier's Office.

During its visit, the BVI delegation met with the Investigation Department of the Dominican Republic National Police, and with the representatives of the country's Central Registry Office and Migration Department. Also, they met with officials at the British, United States, and Dutch Embassies and the Honorary Consulate of the Bahamas. By words of the leader of the BVI delegation, “the discussions were enlightening, interactive, rewarding, and indeed a tremendous learning experience for members of the group.” Also, she noted that the delegation learned about the techniques used to produce fraudulent documents and methods used to detect those documents.

It should be said that citizens of the Dominican Republic are required to get a visa to visit the British Virgin Islands, and 906 visas were issued for citizens of that country since January of this year, to enter or remain on the territory.

On September 9, the BVI Premier Ralph O'Neal has offered his territory's assistance to another British Overseas Territory, the Turks and Caicos Islands, which has suffered from the Hurricane Ike. The Premier sent a letter to the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, where on behalf of his government and the people of the British Virgin Islands he conveyed concern over the devastation of the territory and the destructions caused by Ike.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Smith & Williamson Announces Expansion to BVI and the Cayman Islands

One of the leading independent providers of investment management, accountancy, tax, corporate and financial advisory services, Smith & Williamson, has recently expanded in the Caribbean region, opening offshore offices in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

The company has published summer issue of their quarterly bulletin brought by Smith & Williamson's Restructuring & Recovery Services division. In this report, they announced establishing a joint venture with CRG Partners, – a U.S. firm specialising in operational and financial restructuring service, - in April this year.The joint venture of Smith & Williamson with this firm will also strengthen company's restructuring and recovery presence in the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. The partners will be able to offer a comprehensive suite of restructuring services in these offshore jurisdictions, including turnaround consulting, interim management, crisis management, performance improvement and financial restructuring and advisory services from Europe to the U.S.

Smith & Williamson has 12 principal offices in the UK and Ireland, and is working in 97 countries providing global investment and financial advisory service. Along with establishing its offshore offices in BVI and the Cayman Islands, Smith & Williamson has also expanded its presence in Ireland due to a merger with Dublin-based Oliver Freaney & Company, which has extensive experience in launching financial and business solutions.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two OECS meetings

The Ministry of Health and Social Development in the British Virgin Islands is preparing to host two separate meetings of Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) which will take place this week.

The 22nd board meeting of the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service (OECS/PPS) will be held on September 11. On this meeting, several papers are to be presented, which include the “OECS/PPS Budget for 2008-2009” and “Feasibility Study on the Pooled Procurement of Dialysis Fluids and Supplies.” The agenda of this meeting will also include a video presentation on counterfeit medicines, and a discussion on the strategies how to combat it. An opening ceremony for this meeting will be held on September 10, the delegates will be welcomed by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Social Development Hon. Dancia Penn.

The OECS/PPS is a formal group of nine Eastern Caribbean countries - Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It was previously known as the Eastern Caribbean Drug Service, established under a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1986 with the purpose to maximise OECS government resources for the purchase of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. The organisation is financially self-sufficient since 1989.

Another OECS meeting that will be hosted by the British Virgin Islands – the meeting of OECS Health Ministers, which will take place on Friday, September 12. The agenda for this meeting is not released yet.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hon. Ralph O'Neal Speaking on BVI Government's 1st Year Achievements

BVI Premier Hon. Ralph O’Neal delivered a speech on Monday, September 1, reporting on his work in the first year in this post, and the achievements of his administration. He highlighted last year's “stumbling blocks” and accomplishments, and pledged that BVI's economy will remain strong and adapted to the increasing globalization process.

Mr. O'Neal stated that, despite a global economic decline and other related processes, the BVI government has maintained the territory's economic growth, kept low level of unemployment and accomplished several important projects. He also said that the government start was not so effective because of poor financial accounting.

As the Minister of Finance, Mr. O'Neal noted that the economic expansion in the BVI over the last months has provided a strong economic foundation for the long-term growth and sustainability of the Social Security Board Fund, which grew from US$275 million at the end of 2006 to US$322 million by the end of July 2008. This increase allowed BVI government to raise some categories of social payments.

Mr. O'Neal also said some words to BVI residents on how to ensure their own financial security in terms of global downturn. The Minister urged to reduce consumption, source imports from cheaper markets, and undertake some other measures to support the efforts of the government.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

BVI in the list of Major FDI Investors in Vietnam

According to the information reported at a meeting in Ha Noi by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, during the first eight months of the year Vietnam attracted foreign direct investments on the amount of US$47.2 billion into its economy. The number of new FDI projects is down 20% from last year, however, despite high inflation and slow economic growth in the country, new FDI enterprises contributed investment capital at $46.3 billion – five times more than in the same period last year. Besides newly licensed projects, the expanded projects of foreign investors in the country provided combined additional investment of $833 million – that is 55% increase year-on-year.

So far, the neighbour country of Taiwan is the leader among 38 nations and territories investing in Vietnam's economy. Other major FDI investors are Japan, British Virgin Islands and the US, Malaysia, Brunei, Canada, Singapore and Thailand. Most of these countries, including BVI, have remained on the top list for a long time. In the official statistics of this year, earlier published by the Foreign Investment Agency of Vietnam, BVI ranked the second among foreign investors.

This time, it was admitted by representatives of foreign-invested enterprises that the Vietnamese economy was facing great challenges. They also expressed confidence that “the country would overcome these obstacles and become more attractive to international investors in the long term.”

More than 50% of new projects launched by FDI investors in Vietnam were in services industry; 48.6% went to manufacturing and construction, and the agro-forestry-fishery sector.