Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BVI FSC Announced Formation of SIBA Advisory Committee

The BVI FSC announced the formation of the Securities, Investment Business and Mutual Fund Advisory Committee (SIBA Advisory Committee). This is the statutory committee that has the responsibility to review the Securities and Investment Business Act, 2010, which was enacted in the House of Assembly in April, 2010 and came into force in May, 2010, and recommend changes to the regulatory regime that governs securities, investment business and mutual funds in the British Virgin Islands. The Chairman of the SIBA Advisory Committee is Mr. Ross Munro, Partner and Head of Investment Funds and Regulatory at Harneys law firm.

The FSC's Director, Investment Business, Brodrick Penn, commented on the formation of the SIBA Advisory Committee, saying that “The Commission is pleased to continue its partnership with the private sector through the formation of the new advisory committee, which will play a similar role to its predecessor; the Mutual Fund Advisory Committee. We are equally pleased to have a diverse range of professional expertise and personalities working together with the Commission to advise on matters relating to the development of the securities industry”.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BVI Among Most Popular Offshore Destinations for Czech Businessmen

Czech firm SMART Office & Companies stated that in 2010 there was more than double growth in the interest of Czech entrepreneurs in buying foreign ready-made companies, compared to last year.

It was also said that the most popular countries for offshore companies are British Virgin Islands and Seychelles. The interest of entrepreneurs to the British Virgin Islands has grown by 172% in 2010 as compared to the previous year (87 235 companies), and the interest to Seychelles has grown by 94% (119 231 companies).

The BVI, Seychelles and Cyprus are among offshore jurisdictions where tax system is most advantageous for Czech businessmen.

For next year, Smart Companies expects a growth of interest in traditional offshore tax havens, and in Asian jurisdictions – Hong Kong, Singapore and India.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BVI FSC Published Twentieth Statistical Bulletin

The BVI Financial Services Commission has published the twentieth volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, comprising financial statistics and analysis for the third quarter of 2010, the period ended at 30 September 2010. According to the statistics of the Registry of Corporate Affairs, publishing information on incorporations and registrations in the BVI jurisdiction, there were 15,946 business companies newly incorporated in the reported period. This is the growth in the number of registered companies, as compared to 12,815 companies registered in the second quarter of 2010, and to 13,368 companies registered in the third quarter of 2009. Cumulative number of companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands at 30 September 2010 was 456,547.

According to the statistics published by Banking and Fiduciary Services Sector, in the third quarter of 2010 total assets of commercial banks were $2,189 million, loans and advances were $1,440,6 million, net income was $41,1 million.

In investment business sector, in Q3 2010 6 new licences were granted to functionaries (cumulative total number 577). 31 licences were granted to Mutual Funds (cumulative number 2951).

According to Legal and International Cooperation Statistics, there were 32 enforcement matters in the third quarter of 2010 (29 in the second quarter of 2010 and 39 in the third quarter of 2009).

In the third quarter of 2010, there were 464 matters before the Licensing and Supervisory Committee, 94 of them in Banking and Fiduciary Services sector, 293 in Investment Business sector, 75 in Insurance sector and 2 related to Insolvency services.

Friday, December 10, 2010

BVI among Top Investors in Hong Kong Economy

According to the official data on Foreign Direct Investments by the end of 2009, published by Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department on December 9, 2010, the stock of the city's inward direct investment increased by 14.8 percent from the previous year, and made HK$7,262.1 billion (US$934 billion) at market value.

The major immediate investment source was mainland China, which accounted for the largest share at the end of 2009, at 36.4 percent. The second major source of investment were the British Virgin Islands, with 32.4 percent of total stock of HK FDI at the end of 2009. The Netherlands, with 6.8 percent, were the third.

According to the Hong Kong Statistics Department, Foreign Direct Investment in HK economy, especially that of mainland's China, covers wide range of economic activities, including investment, holding, real estate, professional and business services, import/export, wholesale and retail trades; transportation, storage, postal and courier services.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Leaders of BVI and other Overseas Territories Met with UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister

Last week, leaders from the overseas territories met with the minister for the overseas territories of Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Henry Bellingham. On this meeting, during their visit in London on the annual meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC), they discussed the number of issues of mutual concern, including commercial and economic development of the overseas territories in the Caribbean region, transport, environment and passport issues. They also discussed possible UK assistance in the areas of criminal justice.

There was a separate session on financial services and the sector of public finance, where the UK and the Caribbean territories including British Virgin Islands agreed on the importance of complying with international financial sector standards on tax transparency, financial regulation and anti-money laundering/counter terrorism financing. They agreed that these standards must be applied without discrimination. It was also decided that overseas jurisdictions should take forward work on a framework for fiscal responsibility.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Approval of Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive to Launch Fund Industry in BVI

The Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, final terms of which were approved by the European Parliament on November 11, 2010, allows for the distribution of non-EU funds to professional investors in the European Union. There are two methods of distribution, one of them, the private-placement regime, has been traditional in the EU for non-EU funds, and it will remain in place until 2018. It is proposed that in 2015 it will transition to allow full access to EU passport marketing regime to non-EU funds on the same terms as EU funds. EU funds will become eligible for a passport in 2013. This method, along with the alternative method of the EU marketing passport system, will be subject to similar conditions. These conditions include the need for supervisory co-operation agreements between the regulator of the EU member state in which a fund is being marketed and the regulator of both the fund manager and the fund.

Walkers, the leading international financial centre law firm, welcomed the confirmation of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive and the removal of uncertainty for non-EU fund managers marketing non-EU funds in the European Union. According to Walkers, this is a very positive development for investment funds industry in the BVI, Cayman Islands and Jersey. Rod Palmer, partner and Global Head of Investment Funds with Walkers, said that "The confirmation that non-EU fund managers will be able to continue marketing Cayman Islands, BVI and Jersey funds to professional European investors is excellent news for the industry."

Richard May, Walker's partner based in the BVI, said that the Cayman Islands, BVI and Jersey are highly rated by the FATF in respect to their anti-money laundering regimes, so they will not have to make any changes in their funds' operations to comply with the Directive.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

BVI Premier Attends OTCC Meeting in London

Premier Hon. Ralph T. O´Neal has come to London to take part in the annual meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC). The delegation of the BVI Premier includes Dr. the Honourable Vincent Scatliffe, Financial Secretary, Mr. Neil Smith, Assistant Secretary for external affairs in the Premier´s Office Ms. Najan Christopher and personal assistant to the Premier Ms. Marsha-Ann Gumbs.

At the OTCC meeting, the questions of UK/OT relationship will be discussed, as well as the issues of financial services and public finance, the questions of passport and identity, and many others.

During his visit, Ralph O'Neal along with heads of UK Overseas Territories will have an audience with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Also, the BVI Premier will also have a bilateral meeting with Parliamentary Undersecretary of State Hon. Henry Bellingham. Before his return, he will also meet the BVI students in London.

This OTCC Meeting will be the first opportunity for Overseas Territories to meet collectively with the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State and UK Minister for Overseas Territories since the formation of the new government in the UK.

On November 10-12, the BVI Premier also visited the Czech Republic.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Budget Crticised by BVI Opposition

The Leader of the Opposition of the British Virgin Islands, Dr Orlando Smith, came out with the critics of Premier Ralph O'Neal budget presentation. Mr Smith rated the Budget Address a six out of ten points and said that the Premier has failed to tell, among other things, about the new ideas how to insulate the territory from the global economic downturn and how to encourage local or foreign investments, even from the special committee chaired by the premier, which is to recommend new revenue measures for the territory.

The budget will be discussed by the heads of each ministry, department, unit and statutory board between November 22 and December 7.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Next Year Budget Announced by BVI Premier

On Thursday, the projected revenue budget and fiscal plans for the next year were announced by the Premier of the British Virgin Islands and the Minister of Finance Hon. Ralph O'Neal. He disclosed that the next year budget will be US$287,884,000, while the operational expenditure will be US$260,051,000. The surplus of US$27,832,000 is planned to be spent on development, emergency disaster, pension, contingencies and repairs and renewal funds.

In his speech on the presentation of the budget during the Third Sitting of the Fourth Session of the House of Assembly, Ralph O'Neal spoke about the need to establish a long-term fiscal strategy, and about the increase in fees charged for services and the enhancement of the financial services and tourism project. Since the theme of this year's budget is “From Whence We've Come,” the Premier said that the territory has done well, “meriting the resilience of the people in the face of the devastating effects of the fiscal and economic crisis during the past two years.”

It is expected that the budget will be discussed later this month and early next month before the commencement of the budget debate on December 22 and 23.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

IMF Publishes Report on BVI Financial System

In the beginning of this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released the report named the Financial Sector Stability Assessment of the British Virgin Islands. Actually, this document became the summary of the IMF review of the regulatory regime in the BVI, which started with the IMF team visit to the British Virgin Islands territory in April 2010.

The purpose of the assessment was to make a thorough review of the financial systems in the British Virgin Islands and evaluate their stability. In the final report, the IMF experts recognised the strength of the territory's regulatory regime and willingness and ability of the Financial Services Commission to be a partner in international cooperation and sharing of information.

The review of the International Monetary Fund included the financial system stability assessment, detailed assessment of Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision, technical notes on corporate and trust services providers and on mutual funds regulation. To conduct this review, the IMF team met with government representatives and agencies, among them the FSC and Financial Investigation Agency, as well as with local trade association representatives and industry practitioners.

According to the report, the regulatory framework for both onshore and offshore financial services in the British Virgin Islands is clear and comprehensive, and “the FSC has demonstrated its strength and independence as a regulator”. It is also noted in the report that the BVI has “solid legal basis for an effective banking supervisory regime, particularly after the recent enactment of the Regulatory Code, 2009.”

It was highlighted in the report that the BVI has quickly adopted international standards and significantly strengthened its supervisory function. The IMF noted that the territory's ability to attract business relies on its international reputation as a well regulated and policed jurisdiction with a strong legal framework and efficient corporate services.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BVI Government Ministers to be Questioned by Opposition

Tomorrow, Opposition leader Dr. Orlando Smith will have a talk with BVI Government Ministers on several issues of BVI economy. He will ask the Premier Hon. Ralph T. O´Neal who is also responsible for tourism on the status of the BVI Tourist Board – on the appointment of a Chairman for the board, when would the board have sufficient members in place to carry out its business, and how decisions are being made. Mr. Smith will also ask the Premier some questions on the resignation of the Director of the London Tourism Office.

Other Ministers to be questioned by the Opposition are Minister for Health and Social Development, Ministers for Communications and Works, Education and Culture, Natural Resources and Labour.

At the sitting of the House of Assembly, Premier Hon. Ralph T. O´Neal will propose the Supplementary Appropriation (2006) Act, 2010, Banks and Trust Companies (Amendment) Act, 2010 and Company Management (Amendment) Act, 2010 Bills.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

BVI Signed Another TIEA with Portugal

Last week, another Tax Agreement was signed by the British Virgin Islands Government – this time with Portugal. So, the total number of Tax Information Exchange Agreements signed by the BVI was brought to 19.

The agreement was signed at the BVI's London Office by Deputy Premier Dancia Penn and Portugal's Secretary for Tax Affairs, Professor Sérgio Trigo Tavares Vasques.

In a joint declaration, BVI and Portugal stated that the agreement represents a milestone in relations between both countries. It is stated in the document that “Portugal and BVI have long been active in international efforts in the fight against financial crimes and each share a common commitment to develop and comply with international standards on money laundering, terrorist financing and financial regulation. The Portuguese Republic recognises the BVI Government's reputation as a constructive and co-operative member of the international community with a globally integrated and responsible finance centre.”

Friday, October 08, 2010

BVI Signed TIEA with Germany

On Tuesday, October 5, the BVI government signed Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Germany. It was signed in London by Dancia Penn, the BVI's Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Social Development, and Germany's Ambassador to the United Kingdom Georg Boomgaarden. This TIEA became the 18th signed by the British Virgin Islands, the 17th TIEA was signed about a year ago. Based on the OECD model, it allows both parties to request information from tax authorities of the respective countries to assist in tax investigations.

The BVI and Germany signed joint declaration where it is stated: “The Federal Republic of Germany and the British Virgin Islands have long been active in international efforts in the fight against financial crimes and each share a common commitment to develop and comply with international standards on money laundering, terrorist financing and financial regulation. The BVI's cooperation in fostering these international standards enhances its reputation as a globally-integrated and responsible financial centre.”

Also, a protocol was included on the agreement providing that BVI and Germany had no intention to introduce any discriminatory, prejudicial or restrictive measures based on harmful tax practices so long as the agreement is in force and effective.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

NY Funds Conference Proved to be Successful

The New York funds conference, which was hosted on September 23 by the International Finance Centre (IFC) and the BVI Investment Funds Association, was named a “great success” by the Executive Director of IFC Sherri Ortiz. According to one of conference participants, the event was well organized, and information was interesting and well presented.

On the conference the following presentations were provided by representatives of Conyers Dill & Pearman, Maples and Calder, Walkers, Harney´s and Ogier: State of the Funds Market, A Regulatory Approach, Litigate with Confidence and Lessons learnt for the Funds Industry from the Financial Crisis. The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission provided updates on the territory's regulatory regime and recent legislation initiatives.

Sherri Ortiz commented that the conference was also a “clear demonstration of how far the Territory has progressed in this sector and the extent to which our funds business has grown. There is an increasing appetite from global practitioners to understand more about the Virgin Islands, as evidenced by the call for more events of this kind.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Commission Reminds of Deadline to Submit Applications

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission reminded of approaching deadline to submit applications for money services or financing licence. The transitional period for submitting applications for money services or financing licence ends this week, on 30 September, 2010.

In the press release, the BVI FSC noted that conducting money services or financing business without a licence from 1 October 2010 will be considered an offence. The money services and financing businesses found guilty of this offence will have to pay a fine of US$60,000 for a corporate entity or US$40,000 for an individual, and/or imprisoned for three years.

The Financing and Money Services Act was passed by the House of Assembly on 26 May, 2009, and came into effect on 30 March, 2010.

Monday, September 20, 2010

BVI IFC Hosts New York Funds Conference

On September 23, the British Virgin Islands International Finance Centre (IFC) and the BVI Investment Funds Association will host a conference in New York under the title "A New Era in Funds Domiciliation," where Domiciliation refers to the fixed location of a fund.

By words of the Executive Director of the BVI IFC Ms. Sherri Ortiz, the conference is a great demonstration of Territory's progress in this sector, and the extent to which BVI businesses in funds have grown. She noted that this is an excellent opportunity for them to showcase their funds expertise to international practitioners who want to know more about the British Virgin Islands.

The Executive Director said that the NY conference “promises to provide a quality programme of discussions and keynote speakers. It will provide a unique platform for an exchange of views, sharing best practice and formulation of strategies to best deal with opportunities in 2010 and 2011." She added that the event, which will be attended by leading hedge fund providers in the U.S., will include presentations from leading private sector practitioners on the following topics: State of the Funds Market, A Regulatory Approach, Litigate with Confidence and Lessons learned for the Funds Industry from the Financial Crisis.

The Conference is part of the BVI IFC's work on marketing the BVI financial services industry and promotion of the jurisdiction's reputation as a reliable financial services centre. The event will be visited by the representatives from the BVI FSC, such reputable offshore law firms as Conyers Dill & Pearman, Maples and Calder, Walkers, Harney´s and Ogier.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Harneys' HK Office Head to Lead Maples and Calder's BVI Practice in Hong Kong

The head of Hong Kong office of Harney Westwood & Riegels Michael Gagie was laterally hired by an offshore legal firm Maples and Calder, to co-lead the firm's British Virgin Islands practice in Asia. On 1 September, Mr. Gagie started work in his new post in Hong Kong office of Maples and Calder, along with Barry Mitchell. Both lawyers were living and working in BVI for some time before moving to Asia.

Since 2003, when Mr. Gagie joined Harneys, he regularly advised on listings of BVI corporations on international stock markets, including NASDAQ and AIM Market in London. By words of joint managing partner of Maples and Calder in Hong Kong Christine Chang, his arrival “could not have come at a better time as the market prepares for the BVI listings of BVI-incorporated companies on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange”.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

BVI FSC Issues Application Forms for Financial Services Business Provider's Licence

The BVI FSC has issued the information and guidelines for those who seek to apply for a licence or certificate as Financial Services Business Providers within the jurisdiction. The six documents published by the Commission include the Application Form that should be completed by an applicant to obtain the Licence or Certificate as a Financial Services Business Provider (Part 1 of the Document), and the forms which include additional information required in the case of a Banking or Fiduciary Business Licence Application (Part 2), in the case of an Insurance Licence Application (Part 3), for an Investment Business Licence, Recognition and Registration of Mutual Funds (Part 4).

Part 5 of the Document is for additional information, which is not specifically requested in an approved form for the type of authorization sought, but which an applicant may wish to provide for the consideration of an application or for any other reason. Part 6 (Declaration) and Part 1 should be completed by all applicants notwithstanding what type of Licence they apply for.

The order of completing the approved appplication forms, additional forms and attachments and their acceptance by the Commission is stated in the Application Guidelines. Every application must be accompanied by the requisite fee. All completed applications along with supporting documents should be addressed to the Financial Services Commission, and will be processed by appropriate divisions of the FSC which have responsibility for the subject matter of the application.

Friday, August 27, 2010

BVI FSC Issued Statistical Bulletin for the Second Quarter of 2010

The Financial Services Commission issued the nineteenth volume of its Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing statistics and analysis on activities in the financial services sector in the jurisdiction in the second quarter of 2010.

According to the Registry of Corporate Affairs, the number of newly incorporated business companies in the second quarter of 2010 was 12,815, compared to 16,596 reported in Q1 2010. However, this is a significant increase compared to the second quarter of 2009, when just 9,871 companies were incorporated. Cumulative number of companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands as at 30 June, 2010 was 468,306.

Banking and Fiduciary Services statistics in the second quarter of 2010 showed the following aggregate totals for commercial banks: total assets were approximately US$2,529,282,000, net income was US$28,948,000, operating income was US$46,953,000. In Investment Business sector, 52 licenses were granted in the reported period, total number of licensed entities was 2956.

In the sector of Legal and International co-operation, 29 matters were registered that required international co-operation, 23 of them were formal requests asking for the disclosure of non-public information. Total number of enforcement actions before the Enforcement Committee was 13.

In the second quarter 2010, there were 307 matters considered by the Licensing and Supervisory Committee (LSC), 167 of them in the Investment Business sphere, 88 in the sphere of Banking and Fiduciary services, 45 related to Insurance, and 7 to Insolvency services.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Four Senior Level Appointments in the BVI FSC

In the last month, the Commission has made several senior level appointments. On 1 July, 2010 David Abednego was confirmed as Director, Insolvency Services, Alva McCall as Deputy Director, Policy, Research and Statistics, Michelle Georges as Deputy Director, Banking and Simone Martin as Deputy Director, Fiduciary Services.

Since 2008, David Abednego has been Deputy Director of the Insolvency Services Department, assisting the former Director, Christopher Hill, with the implementation of the Insolvency Act.

Before joining the FSC in 2008, Alva McCall was the Clerk of the House of Assembly. As Deputy Director of the Policy, Research and Statistics Department, she will be responsible for researching regulatory issues, liaising with international standard setting organisations, especially FATF and the IMF, and providing strategic policy advice.

Michelle Georges, will supervise authorised custodians, banks and the money services business. Her most recent post before being appointed as Deputy Director of Banking Department was with Banco Popular de Puerto Rico´s Commercial Lending Division.

Simone Martin, appointed as a Deputy Director of Fiduciary Services, will supervise trust companies and company managers. She has worked in the Commission since its inception.

Friday, August 13, 2010

BVI FSC Issued Advisory Warnings on Insurance Companies

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission issued Advisory Warnings on two companies, having informed the public that Team Casualty Insurance Company Limited and Willow Grove Life Insurance Company Limited are no longer licensed to carry on insurance business in or from the British Virgin Islands.

In the Advisory Warning, the BVI FSC stated that Team Casualty Insurance Company Limited and Willow Grove Life Insurance Company Limited contravened the following sections of the Insurance Act, 1994:

(a) Section 55 of the Act by failing to seek the prior approval of the Commission to discontinue its business in the British Virgin Islands;
(b) Section 73 of the Act by having a prescribed word in their names;
(c) Section 22(1)(a) and (b) of the Act by failing to submit annual reports to the Commission since 2005; and,
(d) Section 17 of the Act by failing to pay the annual license fee since 2007.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

BVI FSC Specifies New Transition Date for Investment Businesses

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission announced the extention to the transition dates under the Securities and Investment Business Act, 2010 (SIBA) and Mutual Funds Regulations, 2010. The transition provisions apply to existing private, public and professional mutual funds previously authorised under the Mutual Funds Act, as well as to investment related businesses, and specify transition dates and periods in which they must achieve compliance with SIBA.

The transitional provisions under SIBA and Mutual Funds Regulations were recently amended by the Securities and Investment Business (Amendment of Schedule 8) Order, 2010 and Mutual Funds (Amendment) Regulatons, 2010. Two transitions dates specified in SIBA were 3 August, 2010 and 12 October, 2010. The new single transition date specified in the amendments is 31 December, 2010.

SIBA and Mutual Funds Regulations replaced the Mutual Funds Act, 1996 and came into force on 17 May, 2010. These are legislative acts under which the Commission regulates mutual funds and investment related businesses functioning in the British Virgin Islands.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BVI FSC Issued Eighteenth Volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin

Last week, the eighteenth volume of Statistical Bulletin was issued by the BVI FSC, providing information and statistics on the British Virgin Islands financial sector activities in the first quarter of 2010.

In the three month period ended March 31, 2010, there was an increase in the amount of business companies registered in BVI – 16,596 newly registered entities, compared to 11,931 in the fourth quarter of 2009 and 12,307 in the first quarter of 2009. The number of BVI business company incorporations in this period approached to the statistics reported in 2008, - before the yields of the global economical and financial crisis became so clear. Cumulative number of business companies incorporated in the jurisdiction was 456,226 as at March 31, 2010.

Banking and Fiduciary services statistics showed that total number of currently licensed entities in the first quarter of 2010 was 268. According to financial results of banking sector in the first quarter of 2010, total assets of the banks were $2,469,308,000, and net income was $16,239,000.

In the Investment Business sector, 8 new licences were granted in Q1 2010, their total number as at the end of the period was 578; also, 58 new mutual funds licences were issued.

According to the Legal and International Cooperation statistics for the first quarter of 2010, there were less international cooperation matters compared to the previous periods – 17 formal and 4 informal requests, and 28 enforcement matters. There were 913 matters before the Licensing and Supervisory Committee (LSC), of them 91 for banking and fiduciary services, 786 for investment business, 32 for insurance and 4 insolvency services matters.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

OECD Highly Appreciated BVI Role in Transparency Standards Implementation

BVI played a key role in promoting the international standards on tax transparency, being a member of the Peer Review Group of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information. This was recognized in the OECD briefing entitled “Promoting Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes”. The jurisdiction was also praised for following the guidelines for the signing of Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs).

The Executive Director of the BVI International Finance Centre in comments on the report said that in addition to 17 TIEAs already signed the jurisdiction expects to conclude further negotiations in the coming months.

The territory welcomed OECD's Peer Review process which is to start for BVI in the beginning of 2011, believing it is well placed to meet the requirements. All members of the Global Forum, and jurisdictions relevant to it, are to undergo reviews of the implementation of their systems for the exchange of information in tax matters. The review will be made in two phases, and the first phase is to be completed before June 2012.

Peer reviews are part of a three-year process approved by the Global Forum in February 2010, in response to the G20 requirement for higher standards of tax transparency and exchange of information. The first set consisting of 18 reviews is to be discussed at the next Peer Review Meeting which will take place on July 20-22, 2010.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Commission Invites Comments on Regulatory (Amendment) Code, 2010

In the press release issued by the BVI FSC on 7 July 2010, the Commission invited practitioners and industry shareholders to comment on the proposed amendments to the Regulatory Code, which has been posted in the Publications section of BVI FSC's website. The period of consultations over the document is open until 31 August, 2010.

The Regulatory Code, which came into effect on 1 February, 2010, supports and provides detailed explanations on primary financial services legislation.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Statement of Cooperation Signed by BVI FSC and US Banking Regulators

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission entered into an arrangement with the US banking regulators – the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of Thrift Supervision. The purpose of the arrangement is to share supervisory information to enhance the regulation of the banking industry and to promote the functioning of banks and banking organizations in the US and in the British Virgin Islands.

Through the Statement of Cooperation, the US banking regulators and the Commission expressed their willingness to “cooperate on the basis of mutual trust and understanding in the supervision of cross-border establishments of banks and banking organizations incorporated in the United States and the British Virgin Islands”.

Talking about sharing of information, the authorities of both jurisdictions recognized that close communications between home and host supervisors “would be mutually advantageous”. It is stated in the document that “cooperation would include contact during the authorization process of a cross-border establishment, as well as its ongoing activities”.

Regulators of both jurisdictions are going to conduct meetings as often as appropriate to discuss issues concerning banking, and to make every effort to encourage continuous and informal contacts between the parties.

Friday, July 02, 2010

BVI FSC Issued Public Fund Code

On 10 June, 2010 the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission published the consultation draft of Public Funds Code, 2010, which is issued under section 63 (1) of the Securities and Investment Business Act, 2010 (SIBA) and has the status of delegated or subsidiary legislation. The proposed document is open for comments of the industry practitioners, especially from the private sector, until 30 June.

The draft Public Funds Code provides for the establishment and operation of public funds and for matters permitted by the Mutual Funds Regulations to be contained in the Public Fund Code.

The Public Fund Code establishes high level principles to be followed by public funds: integrity, management and control, investors' interests, relationship with Commission. Its regulations cover the operation of public funds, including corporate governance, policies and procedures, segregation and safekeeping of fund property, valuation and pricing. The requirements in the Code relating to valuation and pricing are designed to implement the requirements of Principle 20 of the IOSCO Objectives and Principles. By this principle, the regulator framework should ensure that there is a proper and disclosed basis for asset valuation, the pricing and the redemption of units in a public fund. The Code also sets out the requirements concerning public fund's records in the British Virgin Islands; establishes fund's relationship with, and reporting to, the Commission.

The Code contains Schedules that provide for what kind of information should be contained in prospectus of a public fund, and state the events and changes that are to be notified to Commission.

Friday, June 25, 2010

BVI FSC Published Advisory Warning on WI NET Corporation

The BVI FSC issued Advisory Warning informing the public that WI NET CORPORATION, also known as WATER INVESTMENT, is not licensed to carry on financial services business in the BVI territory.

According to the announcement of the Commission, WI NET CORPORATION offered investment opportunities via, and held itself as a company incorporated, registered and licensed in the British Virgin Islands, while it is not and has never been a BVI-registered company.

The BVI FSC asked the public to exercise extreme caution in having any deals with WI NET CORPORATION (or WATER INVESTMENT).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

BVI Premier's Meeting with FCO Minister

Henry Bellingham, the Minister for Overseas Territories at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, met the Premier of the British Virgin Islands Hon. Ralph O'Neal. Among the issues discussed, there were tourism, economic diversification and constitutional relationship. The Minister welcomed measures of the BVI government taken for strengthening the economy of the territory, and welcomed the proposed measures aimed at revenue raising.

The BVI Premier congratulated Mr. Bellingham on his appointment and invited him to visit the British Virgin Islands to receive information about the situation in the territory at first hand. Both the Minister and the Premier agreed that both governments must work together and establish new relationship.

Monday, June 14, 2010

BVI FSC Publishes Statistics for Q4 2009

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission issued the seventeenth volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin that includes statistics, information and analysis of financial services activities in the BVI in the fourth quarter of 2009.

In this period, the number of companies incorporated in the BVI decreased: 11,931 new companies were registered, compared to 13,368 in the third quarter of 2009. Cumulative amount of companies registered in the jurisdiction is 410,293. The amount of companies incorporated during the whole year 2009 was less than in the previous years, starting from 2006.

According to Banking and Fiduciary Services statistics, total currently licensed entities as at December 31 2009 were 266. The banking sectors statistics for commercial banks in the fourth quarter of 2009 included information that total assets were US$2,453,025,000, cash items were US$925,018,000, net income was US$33,206.

According to the investment business statistics, 7 licenses were granted to functionaries in the fourth quarter of 2009, including managers and administrators, and 67 licenses were granted to mutual funds – professional, private and public. There were 17 insolvency practitioners licensed in the fourth quarter of 2009.

In the sphere of legal and international co-operation, there were 55 enforcement matters – that is significantly more than in the third quarter of 2009 and in the fourth quarter of 2008. The International co-operation matters in the fourth quarter of 2009 included 24 formal requests (requiring disclosure of non-public information), and 26 informal requests. Also, there were 6 on-site compliance inspections in Q4 2009, including the cases of inspections of the trust companies, in insurance and investment business.

There were 473 matters before the Licensing and Supervisory Committee in the fourth quarter of 2009, divided between Banking and Fiduciary Services (139), Investment Business (257), Insurance (73), and Insolvency Services (4).

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Leaders of BVI and other British Overseas Territories Meet in Bermuda

The meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC) was held in Bermuda, visited by the representatives of four Britain's Overseas Territories. From the British Virgin Islands, there were Premier Ralph O'Neal and MP Vincent Scatliffe; they were joined by Premier Mckeeva Bush of the Cayman Islands, Deputy Chief Minister Edison Baird of Anguilla, and Charles Kirnon, Montserrat's Minister of Communication, Works and Labour.

The main purpose of the OTCC meeting was to offer the leaders of the countries an opportunity to discuss the matters of interest for the participants before the official conference which will take place in London at the end of the year. By words of Bermuda Premier Dr Ewart Brown, the meeting was successful, because the participants “have completed full and varied agenda”, and now they are well prepared for London conference. He said that during the meeting the members of the OTCC expressed concern about the scrutiny that was given by the UK to financial affairs of its overseas territories.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

BVI Executives Discuss Cuts in Funding of Financial Services Sector

The Executive Director of the International Finance Centre (IFC) Sherri Ortiz, in her speech before the Standing Finance Committee, stated that, while being responsible for promotion and development of the financial services industry, they are not able to get the funding, and this can disturb the growth of the financial services sector of the BVI economy. The IFC Director said that, because of the significant cut in the IFC budget, the Commission cannot develop any programmes, especially taking into account the extremely competitive environment.

Also, Territorial Member Hon. Vernon Malone expressed his concerns about cutting the budget for the marketing of the financial and tourism sectors - the two pillars of country's economy.

The committee was asked to look at the marketing for financial services and tourism and ensure sufficient funding to keep the jurisdiction competitive.

Financial Secretary Neil Smith said that, while they spoke about the financial constraints of the BVI territory in order to promote financial services and tourism, they must also increase efforts to maintain their position in these areas, because competition is very high and for other jurisdictions these are also the most important sectors of economy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Offshore Agreement Signed Between BVI and Australia

By the announcement of the Australian government, the Additional Benefits Agreements between Australia, the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man and Jersey have come into force.

These agreements help to prevent double taxation by allocation of the taxing rights over certain income of pensioners, students and government employees - residents of Australia, the British Virgin islands, the Isle of Man and Jersey. This kind of agreement also provides for a mechanism to deal with disputes arising from transfer pricing adjustments.

The Additional Benefits Agreement with the British Virgin Islands entered into force on April 12, 2010. As well as the other two jurisdictions, BVI have also signed TIEA with Australia.

By words of Assistant Treasurer, Senator Nick Sherry, these arrangements are part of the new taxation and financial relationship between Australia and the jurisdictions.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Appointment of New Minister for the BVI and Overseas Territories

The Office of the Governor announced the appointment of Mr Henry Bellingham, who followed Chris Bryant in the post of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), with ministerial responsibilities for the British Virgin Islands and other Overseas Territories. The minister's duties will also include Africa, United Nations, Global economic issues, climate change and conflict resolution.

The appointment of Mr Bellingham followed the recent elections in the United Kingdom and a coalition government formed between the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats. He is the Member of Parliament from the Conservatives, who first entered Parliament in 1983 as MP for North West Norfolk. Prior to being re-elected in 2001, he ran his own consultancy practice specialising in advising businesses on inward investment.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guidelines for the Approved Persons Regime Published by the Commission

The BVI FSC has published Guidelines for the Approved Persons Regime, with the purpose to give detailed information for the consideration and approval of applications for senior officers appointment. The Guidelines outline senior officer duties and responsibilities and incorporate a set of rules governing the procedure for the approval of senior officers, auditors and other independent officers.

The Guidelines for the Approved Persons Regime, divided into seven parts with application forms and appendices included, provide information on the application of the Regulatory Code to position of Senior Officer, duties and responsibilities of senior officers, their qualifications and experience. The document also states what kind of supporting evidence and additional information is needed for a proposed senior officer. In the general provisions relating to actuaries, auditors and other independent officers, there is information about their approval, roles and duties, qualification and experience.

The forms for filing applications for approval of directors, compliance officers and senior officers, for approval of actuaries/auditors/other independent officers, for approval of change of auditors, notification of resignation/ termination of actuary/auditor/other independent officer, and declaration form for an exemption from appointing a compliance officer are included in the Guidelines.

According to the document, a suitable candidate for a senior officer position must be qualified and have appropriate experience, demonstrate high level of competence and integrity. The criteria for granting approval of an application for a senior officer are set in Division 2 of Part II of the Regulatory Code, 2009.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

BVI FSC Issues Performance Accountability and Supervisory Standards

The Financial Services Commission published the Performance Accountability and Supervisory Service Standards which were issued in January 2010. The new Policy, measuring service standards within the Commission, will enable its Board of Directors and Senior Management to evaluate performance of the Commission against the functions and standards stated in the Financial Services Commission Act, 2001.

The supervisory service standards set in the Performance Accountability Policy relate to such activities of the Commission as dealing with new licence applications, determining subsequent amendments to an existing licence or authorisation, responding to formal requests for the disclosure of non-public or public information, submitting information for the Gazzette, providing response to complaints made against the Commission, and many others. The introduced supervisory service standards also measure the timeframe in which these tasks should be performed.

The Commission published complete list of supervisory standards for each of its internal divisions including Banking & Fiduciary Services Division, Insolvency Services Division, Insurance Division, Investment Business Division, Registry of Corporate Affairs.

At the close of each quarter, the Commission will produce a quarterly report providing the details of its performance against the agreed service standards.

Friday, April 30, 2010

BVI Investment Business: Changes to Regulatory Regime

After the industry consultation, the British Virgin Islands has enacted the Securities and Investment Business Act, 2010 (SIBA). This became the most significant change to the regulatory regime for investment business in the British Virgin Islands since the Mutual Funds Act, 1996, meaning an important step for the continued development of the financial services sector in the jurisdiction.

The objectives of SIBA's introduction are modernisation of the mutual funds and investment business regimes and developing appropriate legislative provisions in relation to securities business, while addressing international standards of regulation.

As stated in the press release issued by the Financial Services Commission, the regulation and administration of hedge funds and securities business in the BVI has been a major priority for the Government of the BVI and the FSC. The enactment of SIBA marked a significant step forward for investment business in the Territory. SIBA's enactment will not significantly change existing fund business and contains appropriate transitional provisions. However, it will transform BVI’s regulatory approach to investment business.

The Director of Investment Business at the BVI FSC, Brodrick Penn, said that the new Act means the maturity and growth of the jurisdiction beyond that of a fund only jurisdiction as it implements new laws and rules for areas such as public issues and securities intermediation activities. It reinforces the commitment of the BVI territory to develop regulatory regime for investment business consistent and compliant with international standards and balance the commercial interests of the BVI.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BVI Identified as One of Special Tax Havens by Indian Government

The government of India approved notification of nine offshore jurisdictions as 'specified territories' to officially initiate information exchange with them and modify regulations to combat tax evasion. The tax havens classified as special territories are British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Cayman Islands, Gibraltar (all of them being British Overseas Territories); also British Crown Dependencies Guernsey, Isle of Man and Jersey; Netherlands Antilles, and Macau, a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

The special status of these jurisdictions allowed Indian government to officially initiate talks with them with regard to tax avoidance, exchange of information, and assistance in collection of income tax.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

BVI Delegation Discussed OCT-EU Relationships

During the recently held OCTA's Ministerial Conference and the 2009 OCT - European Union (EU) Forum held in Brussels, Belgium, the British Virgin Islands and other Overseas Countries and Territories have committed to build closer relationships with the EU.

The BVI delegation was headed by the director of the BVI London Office Mr. Kedrick Malone and consisted of five members, including Assistant Secretaries in the Premier's Office Mrs. Elvia Smith-Maduro and Ms. Najan Christopher, Director of Trade and Consumer Affairs Ms. Lizette George and Political/Public Affairs Officer in the London Office Ms. Averil Henry.

In the speech titled "Future of OCT-EU Relations - Enhancing Competitiveness", Mr. Malone told conference delegates that OCTs agree to the Commission's assessments of the "need to analyse, promote and implement key drivers to global competitiveness which include education of our nations, political stability, a robust information technology structure, and strategies to build on our islands natural assets." He also welcomed the EU's recognition that the British Virgin Islands meets international standards of tax transparency and co-operation, but called for wider international recognition for standards that are already functioning in the BVI and in other OCTs, especially as regards financial services.

The Director of the BVI London Office signed, on behalf of Premier Hon. Ralph T. O´Neal, two important documents from the conference: a political declaration, which confirmed the intention of OCTA countries to build mutually beneficial and comprehensive partnership with the EU, and an administrative resolution which served to outline the mandate of the OCTA Bureau for which the BVI was elected as one of eight members of the executive committee of OCTA.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Conyers Dill & Pearman Hires Head of the New Trust&Private Client Practice in BVI

The offshore law firm of Conyers Dill & Pearman recently hired Raymon Davern to head the new Trust & Private Client practice in the British Virgin Islands. Prior to joining the BVI office of Conyers Dill & Pearman, Mr. Davern was part of the Private Client team at one of the oldest law firms in the Cayman Islands. He has more than 10 years experience of Chancery litigation and advisory work, and another 10 he was the Lecturer in Law at King's College in London.

Raymond Davern told the press that the BVI has the potential to flourish as a jurisdiction for private clients and high net worth individuals. He spoke about the importance of the new Private Client practice, which will offer an increase in the level of choices and will be able to bring Conyers brand to private clients, as well as raise the jurisdiction's profile.

Robert Briant, Managing Partner of Conyers´ BVI office, said that the introduction of the Trust & Private Client practice in the jurisdiction extends the BVI practice of Conyers into ''a full service law firm advising on a full range of corporate, litigation and trust & private client law.”

The offshore firm has recently made a number of new hires in BVI and other countries, continuing to strategically expand through the addition of key experts.

On May 13, Conyers will host its 2nd Annual Trust Forum in London, where lawyers from BVI, Bermuda, and Cayman Islands will participate in a series of talks on multi-jurisdictional options for the international private client market.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

MOU Concluded Between BVI FSC and Iceland's Financial Authority

On 31 March, 2010, the Commission published Memorandum of Understanding between the British Virgin Islands and Iceland financial authorities, which was signed in February 2010 and established a framework for the Financial Supervisory Authority of Iceland and the Financial Services Commission of the BVI to co-operate with each other for the confidential exchange of information.

The MOU between the BVI and Iceland is a statement of intent to consult, co-operate, and exchange information in connection with the functions of regulatory authorities of both countries. Each authority will keep confidential requests made under this MOU, including consultations between the authorities, and neither authority will disclose non-public documents and information received under this document. The only exception are the cases when non-public information is needed for conducting investigations on criminal or administrative matters. The document also provides information about the order how to execute requests for assistance, what they should specify and to whom be addressed.

The Memorandum was signed by Gunnar Andersen, the Director General of the Financial Supervisory Authority of Iceland, and Robert Mathavious, the director and CEO of the BVI FSC.

Friday, April 02, 2010

IMF Team to Visit the BVI Territory

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team will visit the British Virgin Islands territory for two weeks starting from April 12 in order to make a review of the financial systems of the British Virgin Islands. By words of the Managing Director of the BVI Financial Services Commission Robert Mathavious, the IMF team is expected to conduct “the most exhaustive, thorough and potentially intrusive report the Territory has ever had.” During the first week the IMF team will be gathering information through interviews and site visits, and the second week will be spent on compiling the report.

Robert Mathavious said that the Commission is going to give the visitors "100 percent access" and asked the private sector to comply with requests for information made by IMF team. He expressed his optimism about the results of the visit, because great efforts were made to implement many of the recommendations since the IMF's 2002 visit. The BVI FSC Director also said that “the whole international financial community will be looking at the report and will be governed by the type of report that we have gotten.”

By words of BVI FSC Deputy Director, Investment Business, Glenford Malone, the IMF team comprises individuals with specific expertise in areas that will be assessed, namely, core banking principles, asset management, international business, crisis management and the overall financial stability in the British Virgin Islands.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

BVI FSC Announced Appointment of New Deputy Director, Insurance

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission announced the appointment of Mr. Harry Whitcher as Deputy Director, Insurance, with effect on 1 February, 2010. As Deputy Director, Insurance Mr. Whitcher will be primarily responsible for insurance regulation in the BVI, and is a direct report of the Acting Director of Insurance Sector Mr. Elton Lettsome, who was appointed at this position in June 2008.

Mr. Whitcher's work experience included insurance regulation in two jurisdictions focusing on such items as compliance, liability, commercial lines, property, life assurance underwriting and sales. Mr. Whitcher served as the Deputy Director of Insurance for the Bermuda Monetary Authority where he was a member of the Executive Committee responsible for providing overall strategic direction and technical leadership to the BMA.

Mr. Whitcher commented on his appointment: “I am excited by this new position as the Commission commences administration of new Insurance legislation. I look forward to assisting the Commission in the promotion of the highest standards of regulatory enforcement and in strengthening its supervision of the insurance sector.”

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ralph O'Neal Speaks on Tourism and Financial Sectors of the BVI Economy

In the recent delivery of the 2010 Budget Address in the House of Assembly, BVI Premier Hon. Ralph T. O´Neal talked about the tourism sector and the financial services sector and the results of their work in 2009. As regards the financial services industry, he mentioned several bills that have been brought before the House in the past few months, including the Securities and Investment Business Act, aimed at strengthening regulatory regime of the territory and promoting the status of the British Virgin Islands as a jurisdiction of the choice for doing legitimate business.

He also noted that Government is fully committed to ensuring that the Tax Information Exchange Agreements concluded by the BVI and its OECD partners are implemented effectively, through the efficient operation of the administration system supporting them.

Although the number of new company incorporations in the British Virgin Islands decreased by more than 14,000 in 2009, according to the statistics of the Financial Services Commission, Ralph O'Neal expressed optimism about the overall performance of the BVI economy in 2010. He said that the economy of the British Virgin Islands should experience the improvement in the financial services sector and tourism.

The BVI offshore incorporation figures up to the third quarter of 2009 were down by approximately 32 percent compared to the same period of 2008, but the overall number of active offshore companies registered in the BVI remains in the level of about 400,000.

Concerning the tourism sector of the BVI economy in 2009, the Premier outlined some of the effects of the global economic turmoil on the decrease of many indicators compared to 2008.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Robert Mathavious Addresses the Public with BVI Financial Services Industry Outlook

On February 18, 2010, Managing Director/CEO of the BVI FSC Robert Mathavious presented the outlook for the BVI's local financial services industry. He talked about the steps and measures the Commission has taken to move forward the BVI financial services industry, while the global view of offshore finance centres is no more positive now than it was some months ago.

After signing “more than the requisite number” of Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) the jurisdiction has been moved to the white list of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

However, by words of Mr. Mathavious, this is not the end of challenges, because much should be done to comply with international standards. The OECD intends to confirm that jurisdictions have the legal and regulatory framework to implement the TIEAs signed by them, and BVI's framework is due to be reviewed in the first half of 2011.

Among the last year achievements of the Commission, Robert Mathavious named excellent report by the CFATF, listing of BVI companies on the HK Stock Exchange; also, the review of British OFCs was positive for the BVI, and the high standards of the jurisdiction against money laundering and the financing of terrorism have been confirmed by the FATF's International Co-operation Review Group.

Robert Mathavious said that the legislative developments of the jurisdiction have been designed to ensure that the jurisdiction meets international requirements.

During the course of this year, the Commission is going to undertake “outstanding measures” to comply fully with the CFATF recommendations. The Commission has issued guidelines on the approved persons regime and has completely revised the guidelines and operating procedures of Licensing and Supervisory Committee to streamline its processes and procedures and make it more responsive. The BVI FSC expects that the industry is to adhere to the requirements so as to comply fully with the provisions stated in the Financial Services Commission Act.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

BVI FSC Presented Bearer Share Regime Changes

The immobilization of bearer shares issued under the IBC Act (prior to 1 January, 2005) that came into force on December 31, 2009, was recently presented by the Deputy Managing Director of the BVI Financial Services Commission Mr. Kenneth Baker. As a background for the changes in the bearer shares regime Mr. Baker named the international pressure which was expressed in the reports of international economic and financial organizations, including the OECD and FATF reports and recommendations. He said that the end of BVI IBC's power to issue bearer shares and their immobilization were necessary for the high international reputation of the jurisdiction as the financial and offshore centre.

Several amendments to the BVI legislation acts were done in order to transfer bearer share companies to non-bearer share ones. Among the documents that were amended there are the Financial Services Commission (Amendment) Act, 2004, the BVI Business Companies Act, 2004, International Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2003, and International Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2004.

The Financial Services Commission (Amendment) Act, 2004 came into force on 1 July, 2004, and since that date the BVI FSC has been accepting applications for authorized BVI custodians. The amended Act defines rules governing custodians, including the conditions of approval and revocation of approval of custodian's licences, the issue of guidance notes relating to Authorized Custodian's practices and procedures.

Mr. Kenneth Baker in the presentation explained the meaning of disabled bearer share, and the order of disapplication on bearer share transfer. He provided the definitions of recognized and authorized custodians, and the lists of recognized and authorized custodians developed by the BVI FSC.

The presentation can be found on the home page of the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Director for UK Foreign Office Talks on Issues Discussed with BVI Government

The Director for Overseas Territories in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Mr. Colin Roberts, during his first official visit to the BVI territory held discussions with Ministers of BVI Government, senior Government officials and non-governmental organizations, on several matters including public finances, climate change and security.

During the press conference Mr. Roberts said that he had fruitful discussions with the BVI Government. The financial discussions concerned the issues of cuts and expenditures, borrowings and the increase in revenue; their focus were public finances of BVI with their deficit and the “growing gap between expenditure and revenue”. Mr. Roberts also said that the global economic situation has created difficult times for the relationship between the UK and the Overseas Territories, due to the both side stresses related to the pressure on economies and public finances.

Mr. Roberts noted that a number of other UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean region are in much worst economic and physical situation than the BVI Territory, as a result of the processes taking place in the global economy, and they are seeking the UK approval for borrowings and sometimes even looking forward for UK loans or substantial grants. He pointed out that this is not the case with the British Virgin Islands.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Chairman approved for FSC Appeals Board

The BVI Cabinet of Ministers has approved the appointment of Mrs. Joanne Williams Roberts as chairman of the Financial Services Commission Appeals Board. The appointment of the new chairman shall remain effective for three years until July 31, 2012. The other members of the board were re-appointed for three year terms in April 2008.

The main task of the FSC Appeal Board, established in accordance with the provisions of the Financial Services Commission Act, 2001, is to facilitate the right to appeal by anyone who is aggrieved by a decision of the Financial Services Commission. The Board should be headed by a legal practitioner with not less than 10 years experience. Also, according to the Act, only persons who are not members of the FSC Board of Commissioners and not engaged in or connected to a person engaged in a financial services business in the BVI territory, should serve as members of the FSC Appeals Board.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FCO Overseas Territories Director to Make Official Visit to BVI

Mr. Colin Roberts, the Director for Overseas Territories in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is to make his first official visit to the territory of the British Virgin Islands on January 27-30. The aim of the visit is to discuss the relations between the UK and the BVI, the financial services industry, the global economic situation, governance, environment and law.

During his visit, Mr. Roberts will be paying calls on the Governor David Pearey and the Premier Hon. Ralph T. O'Neal, and to the other senior officials of the territory. He will also have the opportunity to meet with the Government and the private sector representatives. Mr. David Pearey will be hosting a reception in Mr Roberts's honour.

Being at the post of Director of the Overseas Territories since 2008, Mr. Roberts is responsible for the region including the South Atlantic Territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory, Pitcairn Section, the Caribbean and Bermuda Section, Turks and Caicos Island Unit and Policy the Co-ordination Section.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

BVI FSC Published Statistics for the Third Quarter of 2009

The BVI Financial Services Commission has issued the sixteenth volume of quarterly Statistical Bulletin, which includes information and statistics on financial services activities in the third quarter of 2009.

According to the Registry of Corporate Affairs, the number of business companies incorporated and registered in this period was 13,368 - higher than in the second quarter of 2009. Cumulative number of BVI BC's as of 30 September 2009 was 433,164. Total number of company incorporations for the first three quarters of 2009 decreased heavily compared to the same period of 2008 and especially of 2007. Also, the Registry reported that 10 Limited Partnerships were registered in Q3 2009, and the cumulative number of Limited Partnerships was 617.

In the sector of Banking and Fiduciary services the cumulative number of banking licences issued and/or renewed has not changed; generally, in the third quarter 2009 there were two newly licensed entities. Total number of licensed entities as of 30 September 2009 was 254.

The Financial Services Commission published the following financial results for the commercial banking sector in Quarter 3, 2009: total assets were US$2452mln, cash items were US$981mln, investments were US$2,7mln. Net income of commercial banks made US$45,8mln.

In Investment Business sector, total number of licences granted to functionaries (managers and administrators) in the third quarter of 2009 was 12, and the cumulative number of licences as of 30 September 2009 was 582; 54 licences were issued to mutual funds, and total number of mutual funds' licences was 2923.

According to the Insurance Sector statistics, in this period 3 licences were issued to insurers and 312 renewed (total number 315, compared to 364 in 2008). Also, 3 licences were issued to functionaries (agents, brokers, managers, etc.) and 42 renewed (total number 45, compared to 43 in 2008).

The Legal and International Cooperation statistics shows that the number of international co-operation requests (formal and informal) was 43 in the third quarter of 2009; there were 39 enforcement matters and 11 advisory warnings issued.

Further information and statistics in the spheres of legal and international co-operation, on-site compliance inspections and matters supervised by the Licensing and Supervisory Committee (LSC) can be found on the BVI FSC home page.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BVI FSC Informs on New Legislative Provisions

On January 15, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission announced that the new legislative provisions are to come into effect in the near future. The new provisions include the Insurance Act, 2008, the Financing and Money Services Act, 2009 and the Regulatory Code, 2009.

The Commission informed about the following effective dates: 1 February 2010 for Insurance Act and for the Regulatory Code, and 31 March 2010 for Financing and Money Services Act.

The Insurance Act, 2008 is to replace the Insurance Act, 1994 and the Insurance Regulations, 2009 are to replace the Insurance Regulations, 1995. The Insurance Regulations, 2009, made by Cabinet with advice of and in consultation with the BVI FSC, contain more details for classifications for insurance business, maintenance of registers and specifications of public records.

The Financing and Money Services Act provides legislative framework for the licensing, regulating and supervision of persons engaged in the provision of money or value transfer services. Also, it establishes a six months transition period for existing businesses to make the required application for licensing to the Financial Services Commission.

Friday, January 15, 2010

FSC Announced Formation of IIP Focus Group

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission published press release on January 5, 2010 where announced that a focus group has been formed whose task would be to review and advise on revisions to Intellectual and Industrial Property Legislation in the territory. Since the IIP legislation of the BVI has been minimally reviewed and revised for very long time, the Commission considered it necessary to make recommendations for legislative revision according to the recent developments in this area.

The Focus Group consisting of public and private sector representatives who have obtained experience and knowledge within the industry, will work with the following acts: The Patents Act, Registration of United Kingdom Trade Marks, United Kingdom Designs (Protection) Act and the Merchandise Marks Act. It will review all currently acting IIP Law and treaties, consider the operation of modern IIP laws in other jurisdictions and prepare new variant of law for the consideration of the BVI FSC as well as a report on the work of the focus group.

The Focus Group includes the following persons: Mr. Gerard Farara, Mr. Cherno Jallow (Director, Policy, Research & Statistics FSC), Mr. Lewis Hunte, Mr. Jamal Smith, Ms. Dawn Smith, Mrs. Myrna Herbert (Director, Registry of Corporate Affairs, FSC), Ms. Fikile Dlamini, and Ms. Dian Fahie-de Castro (Legal Counsel, FSC).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

OECS Countries Establish Economic Union

On December 2009, leaders from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) signed a treaty to establish an Economic Union within the region. The event was described by OECS Chairman Mr. Denzil Douglas as having a “historical importance for the Governments and peoples that constitute the OECS”.

The new treaty establishing the OECS Economic Union updates the Treaty of Basseterre, which was signed 28 years ago, and will remove trade barriers between national markets to unite the countries of the region into one financial and economic space. Economic ties in the region are to be intensified in light of challenges and complications caused by global economic crisis.

The OECS includes the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis. Montserrat, which is a British Overseas Territory and a founding member of the OECS, did not sign the agreement.

The new agreement allows for the delegation of certain legislative authority in certain areas to the heads of government, and the formation of a Regional Assembly of Parliamentarians consisting of members of the parliaments of the individual jurisdictions. It it expected that over the next few months the agreement will be ratified by the Member States, and will enter into force in June 2010.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

BVI FSC Updates the Status of Reserve International Liquidity Fund

The BVI FSC issued the sixth public statement concerning the status of Reserve International Liquidity Fund Ltd. The first directive on the Fund was issued by the Commission in October 2008, upon receiving the complaints from investors and allegations that the Fund has improperly valued its bond holdings. It required from the Fund to suspend shares redemption and to pay redemption proceeds to the Fund investors.

On January 13 2009, the Commission amended the first directive to allow the fund to make interim payments of redemptions proceeds, with the prior written consent of the Commission. The first interim payment in the amount of US$1.875 billion was made on 30 January 2009 to investors who had submitted redemption requests on or before 26 January, 2009; the second amount of US$400 million was approved by the Commission and paid to shareholders in June 2009.

By the document issued on November 20, 2009, the BVI FSC approved the third interim payment of minimum US$200 million by the Fund through the proceeds of the redemption of shares.

According to the document, the approval is subject to receipt by the Commission of the following information: accounting validation of distributable amounts, confirmation of the balance on the shareholders' accounts prior to and post payment of the proceeds of shares redemption, confirmation of the payment to be made to each shareholder, and details of the remaining assets to be distributed.

Also, in accordance with the amendment to the first directive, no other payments of the proceeds of the redemption of shares will be made by the Fund without the Commission's prior written consent.