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.