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.