Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Opposition Comments on Budget Debates


Opposition Member and First District Representative Hon. Andrew A. Fahie noted in his comments on budget of the Territory that the Opposition did its best during the recent budget debates in the Fifth Sitting of the Second Session of the Second House of Assembly held on December 17 and 18, 2012. He said that the Opposition tried to save the British Virgin Islands from certain projects that are being done “in a highly questionable manner”, but he did not specify what kind of projects these were.

During the budget debates, Hon. Christopher criticized the airport extension project and especially the fact that full cost of it was not given.

According to Hon. Fahie, “The Budget process also clearly proved from the figures provided by the Ministry of Finance that the last Administration did not leave the country broke; however, although the empirical data clearly states such, the current Administration continues with the same old Marketing plan that the VIP left the country broke.”

Hon. Fahie concluded: “Overall we did our best and will continue to do our best to help this Administration to understand that it has to better prepare our people for what is ahead.”


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BVI Remains the Second Top Country for HK Inward and Outward DI


Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department has issued the statistics of direct investments in country’s economy for the year 2011, where reported the increase of both inward and outward direct investments in Hong Kong economy by the end of 2011.

According to the published statistics, Mainland China remained the largest source and destination of HK direct investments. As the source of investments, at the end of the year Mainland China accounted for 36.3%, being the largest share of the total stock. The Mainland was also the most important destination for Hong Kong’s outward direct investments, with 42.1% share of the total stock by the end of 2011. 

British Virgin Islands was the second largest source of Hong Kong direct investments, with more than prominent share of 31.1%. As a destination of outward investment, the BVI was in the second place with 41.8% - again, very close to the leader of the statistics of HK investments, Mainland China.

In 2011, the stock of HK’s inward DI increased marginally by 0.9% from the year 2010, and achieved market value of almost HKD8.38 trillion. The total stock of Hong Kong’s outward DI increased by 8.3% from the previous year and reached market value of HKD7.95 trillion, with a ratio to GDP of 411%.

Monday, December 03, 2012

BVI FSC Updated Public Statements Issued By FATF


The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issued public statement reaffirming its blacklisting of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The public statement reproduced in original form on the website of the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission was issued as an update for the previous FATF statements.

The updated statement also identified jurisdictions with strategic anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies that have not made sufficient progress in combating them: Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sao Tome and Principe, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, and Yemen.

In the currently listed public statement, the BVI FSC advised the general public of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice to note the concerns expressed by the FATF with respect to the named jurisdictions, when dealing with customers or transactions involving any of the jurisdictions identified by the FATF public statement.

There is also a separate statement issued on the same date and named “Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: On-Going Process”, where the FATF organization updated statements on some countries that have committed to working with it to improve their AML/CFT frameworks. 


Monday, November 26, 2012

BVI Premier Announced New Budget Format and Fiscal Strategies


In his 2013 Budget Address to the BVI territory, the Premier and Minister of Finance Dr Orlando Smith named the increase of revenue from tourism, increased market share in the financial services industry, and renewed activity in the other components of the economy as the main factors for achieving positive economic growth in the British Virgin Islands.

The Premier explained that this budget is made over a rolling three-year period, for the first time in the history of the British Virgin Islands. This method will assist the government in the planning for a longer term, and allow for the better management. The new budget format is built upon a new chart of accounts that is based on the International Monetary Fund’s government finance statistics (GFS) format. 

The fundamental principles of the government’s fiscal strategy include: increasing the recurrent budget surplus over the medium term through the enhancement of the revenue stream, a reduction in recurrent revenue growth, reducing the fiscal deficit by 2015, meeting the borrowing limit ratios stated in the protocols for effective financial management, and enhancing the financial management structure and practices within the government.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

BVI Adopt New Laws on Aicraft Registration


New laws to support the expansion of the aircraft registry of the British Virgin Islands entered into force, enabling locally-registered operators to secure aircraft financing. New pieces of the BVI legislation, named the Mortgaging of Aircraft and Aircraft Engines Act, 2011, and the Mortgaging of Aircraft and Aircraft Engines Regulations, 2012, allow aircraft operators to register their ownership in the jurisdictions under three separate registries – for aircraft, their engines, and their mortgages. This will give to aircraft operators the opportunity to receive financing from lending institutions, which require that legal ownership should be demonstrated before providing financing.

The British Virgin Islands has been known as tax-efficient jurisdiction for aircraft holding companies, and in the last year the government launched the development of the local Aircraft Register. The BVI government expects that, with the new legislation, the jurisdiction will be able to use its position as a holding company domicile to encourage international operators to register their aircraft and engines in the BVI. 

According to Harney’s law firm, the new legislation, and especially its development providing for the filing of priority notices for credit institutions “paves the way for new business opportunities which complement and support the British Virgin Islands’ position as the premier offshore corporate domicile with over 850,000 companies incorporated to date.”

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Next Year Budget To Be Presented On November 15


Next week, BVI Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith will present the Budget of the Territory for 2013. It will be the second Budget of this Government since taking up office a year ago.

The 2013 Budget presentation is the first to be made since signing of the Protocols for Effective Financial Management with Britain’s Government, which mandate that the BVI jurisdiction builds its reserve funds – the initiative much criticized by the Opposition and named too restrictive for the Government. Under these protocols, which were signed by Premier Smith, the amendments to the Public Finance Management Act were passed by the House of Assembly, but they are still waiting Governor’s approval. 

According to the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Act, 2012, the Budget must include Medium Term Fiscal Plan (MTFP); a Budget Policy Statement; and a Multi-year Budget Document.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New UK Minister’s First Official Visit to the BVI


Mark Simmonds, the UK Minister for the Overseas Territories, who was appointed at his post in September 2012, has chosen the British Virgin Islands as the place for his first visit. During his visit on October 22-24, he had joint press conference with BVI Premier and Minister for Finance, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith and Governor Boyd McCleary, where he talked about some aspects of the UK Government’s views about the Virgin Islands.

Mr. Mark Simmonds stated that during meetings with the BVI Premier and his colleagues he discussed such matters as good governance, financial management and economic planning in keeping with the White Paper issued by the British Government. He said: "I have had some extremely good discussions with the Premier and his Ministers and others in my short time here in the BVI. I have been impressed by the progress that is being made in responsible and prudent financial management in the fact that the Financial Management Act has been passed and the procurement processes are now in tune with international standards and that is a sign of a very progressive and determined Government."

Mr. Simmonds also had a private conversation with the Opposition Leader Hon. Ralph T. O´Neal. The Opposition continues to talk about the restrictive nature of the protocols, and about the need for their renegotiation. However, Mr. Simmonds considers the protocols are right, and should not be renegotiated.

After visiting the British Virgin Islands, the UK Minister departed for Anguilla.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

BVI Corporate Law Updated by Amendments and Regulations


The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission announced that the BVI Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2012 and associated BVI Business Companies Regulations 2012 came into force on 15 October 2012, amending the original BVI Business Companies Act, 2004. Both the Act and the Regulations actually are the first significant update to the corporate law regime of the British Virgin Islands since 2006, and introduce a number of measures aimed at streamlining, clarifying and improving the administration of BVI Business Companies.

The BVI Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2012 includes 85 new and amended provisions which clarify certain issues within the Act, and codify some existing practices. Some of the key changes that have been made affect such important issues as company names, share class conversion and bearer shares, Notice of Amendment, the Registrar of Companies, registered agents and registration procedure, voluntary liquidation and dissolution, fees, and security interests of the companies. All the changes are beneficial to the BVI regime and aimed to increase its attractiveness as one of the leading offshore jurisdictions worldwide. 

BVI Business Companies Regulations, 2012 have been developed to complement the implementation of some of the provisions of the Act. The Regulations have a total of 29 new provisions and three new Schedules.

The BVI Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2012 and BVI Business Companies Regulations 2012 can be found on Commission’s website at www.bvifsc.vg.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Air Service Launched in BVI


On October 8, it was announced by USVI-based carrier Seaborne Airlines and the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board in collaboration with the BVI Airport Authority about the start of daily round-trip flights between San Juan’s international airport in Puerto Rico and Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport, serving the British Virgin Islands. Flights are to be commenced in two months, on December 8, 2012. It was also stated that by April 2013 Seaborne plans to operate 49 weekly round-trip flights in the BVI.

On December 8, the carrier based in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, is going to start new service from San Juan to Virgin Gorda. Seaborne will also introduce special promotional fares for BVI residents travelling to San Juan. BVI travellers will have access to Seaborne’s premium lounge at San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport.

By words of Gary Foss, the president of Seaborne Airlines, this first scheduled service to the British Virgin Islands from their connecting complex in Puerto Rico will allow customers from United States and Canada easy connection to the BVI territory.

Friday, September 28, 2012

BVI and Grenada arrange for leadership summit


The Premier of the British Virgin Islands Dr Orlando Smith, and the Prime Minister of Grenada Tillman Thomas will co-host a summit of political and business leaders of the Caribbean region, which will be held in May 2013, on Necker Island, BVI. The summit will bring together leaders from ten Caribbean islands, as well as leaders of global private sector. It is expected also that at the end of the summit a government leaders declaration will be signed.

Last week, summit organizer Sheldon Cohen, director of external affairs, Caribbean Program, of The Nature Conservancy, visited Grenada to have a meeting with environment officials in order to make preliminary arrangements. Probably, as a result of Grenada’s participation in the summit, significant financial resources are to be used to conserve the coastal and marine environment and to support such sectors as tourism and fisheries.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mark Simmonds Became New Minister for UK Overseas Territories


According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Mark Simmonds MP has been appointed the United Kingdom (UK) Minister for the Overseas Territories, after the recent removal from this post of Henry Belligham as part of the reshuffle of Cameron’s Cabinet.

Among the responsibilities of Mark Simmonds, as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, there are UK Overseas Territories all over the world including the British Virgin Islands. Other Caribbean territories, except for Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, also are in his sphere of work. 

Simmonds had been a member of the shadow health team when the Conservative Party was in opposition but missed out on a role in the coalition government after the 2010 General Election.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BVI FSC Issued Statistical Bulletin for Second Quarter of 2012


Last week, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission published Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing information and analysis of financial services activities in the BVI jurisdiction. The newly issued Volume 27 includes statistics for the second quarter of 2012.

According to the information of the Registry of Corporate Affairs, in the second quarter of the year 15,200 International Business Companies and 15 limited partnerships were incorporated in the BVI, as compared to 17,865 companies and 18 limited partnerships registered in the first quarter of 2012. Cumulative number of companies incorporated in the BVI as at 30 June 2012 was 447,801, and the number of limited partnerships was 442.

In the Banking and Fiduciary Services sector, one Money Services/Financial Business licence was issued in Q2 2012. The Banking sector statistics for commercial banks showed the following: total assets – $2, 39 million, deposits - $1, 73 million, net income - $11, 6 million, profit margin – 38,57%.

In Investment Business Sector, 10 new Investment Business Licences, 17 professional and 5 private licences for Mutual Funds were granted in the second quarter of the year. Cumulative number of investment business licences as at 30 June 2012 was 532; total number of professional mutual funds was 1621. Cumulative number of active mutual funds was lower in the reported second quarter of 2012, as compared to the same periods of 2011, 2010 and 2009.

In Q2 2012, total number of insolvency practitioners was 24 (25 in Q2 2011, 20 in Q2 2010). According to insurance statistics, one captive insurance licence was granted in this period.

According to Legal and Enforcement and International Cooperation statistics, total number of international cooperation matters in the second quarter of 2012 was 42 (42 in Q1 2012, and 44 in Q2 2011). Among ongoing Supervision Matters reviewed by the Licensing and Supervisory Committee, 110 referred to Banking and Fiduciary Services sector, 446 referred to Investment Business sector, and 60 referred to Insurance sector.

Friday, September 07, 2012

UK Minister for Overseas Territories Leaves His Post


The Foreign and Commonwealth minister Henry Bellingham, responsible for Britain’s overseas territories, is leaving his post now. At the moment, no replacement is announced. This is part of reshuffle of the Cabinet of Ministers, initiated by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron.

Henry Bellingham did not say whether he had been offered an alternative ministerial position, but expressed the hope that it was not the end of his career in the British government.

Bellingham's first appointment to the Foreign Office was in 2010, and for the past 10 years he was a Conservative frontbencher.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Premier Explains Situation with Protocols to the Public Finance Act


The Opposition of the British Virgin Islands expressed its concerns about several issues, including the possible breach of the Protocols for Effective Financial Management by the administration, and the penalties that might follow from the United Kingdom (UK) Government. Hon. Andrew Fahie is going to ask over 30 questions at the sitting of the House of Assembly on September 3. 

The Protocols were signed in April 2012 by Premier and Minister for Finance, Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith on behalf of Government and Mr. Henry Bellingham, the United Kingdom Minister for the Overseas Territories. They called for the implementation and entering into force of the enhanced Public Finance Act by August 2012. 

Premier Hon. Orlando Smith said that the BVI Government has already reviewed the new provisions to the enhanced Public Finance Act, and after they are tabled at the next sitting of the House of Assembly, they will be debated and passed at the next sitting of the House.

Also, Premier said that this set of protocols to which the BVI Government has agreed will provide for effective management of finances, to be fully transparent and accountable. He stated that one of the significant things with the protocols is the question of liquid assets, as the British Virgin Islands jurisdiction from time to time has been in breach of the liquid assets under previous agreements. However, he assured: "I will say based on what is contained now in the protocols, we are in breach, but we also have an agreement that by 2015 we will meet all the requirements of the protocols."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Commission Publishes Information on FATF Statement's Update


In the end of June, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in a public statement reaffirmed the blacklisting of Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). This public statement is an update to the FATF statement previously issued on 22 October 2010, 25 February 2011, 24 June 2011 and 16 February 2012.

The statement updated in June 2012 also listed jurisdictions with strategic anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism deficiencies that have not made sufficient progress in addressing them - Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sao Tome and Principe, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, and Yemen.

In its turn, in the public statement published on its website, the BVI FSC advised to note the concerns expressed by the FATF with respect to the above named jurisdictions, consider the money laundering and/or terrorist financing risks and apply appropriate or enhanced customer due diligence measures when dealing with customers or transactions involving any of these jurisdictions.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Premier Writes Message for BVI Art and Culture Show in London


In his written message to the recently held BVI Art and Culture Show and Territory Day Reception in London that was read by Director of the BVI London Office, BVI Premier Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith stated: “My Government is fully aware of our obligations as a Territory and we stand ready to meet our responsibilities under the new partnership.”

He said that the BVI government welcomed the publication of White Paper of the Overseas Territories and is committed to developing further partnership with the United Kingdom. 

The keynote speaker at the event, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Mr. Lidsay Hoyle, MP, said: "It is time for a grown up relationship between the United Kingdom and British Virgin Islands. The Overseas Territories should determine their own future and not have it imposed by Britain."

Monday, July 23, 2012

International Tax Authority Set Up in BVI to Deal with TIEAs


The International Tax Authority (ITA) has been established in the Ministry of Finance of the British Virgin Islands. The new unit, designated by Financial Secretary Neil Smith, will ensure the effective exchange of tax information under Tax Information Exchange Agreements signed between the BVI and a number of countries.

Responsibilities of the International Tax Authority include dealing with practical aspects of TIEA requests, negotiating TIEA agreements with potential partners, and developing the framework within the BVI territory for the effective exchange if information. 

ITA will perform the functions section 4(1) of the Mutual Legal Assistance (Tax Matters) Act, 2003 (MLA), which is said to be the base for the BVI international co-operation regime in tax matters. The MLA gives effect to the terms of the Agreements between the Government of the British Virgin Islands and the Governments of the USA and of the United Kingdom for the exchange of information in relation to tax matters, which were signed in 2002. According to the Ministry of Finance, the MLA will apply to any similar agreement that the British Virgin Islands enters into.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Premier Smith Speaks on the New White Paper Released by UK


Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. D. Orlando Smith expressed his opinion on the new White Paper that was released on June 28 under the title 'The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability'. The premier is pleased on the new development of relationship between the UK and its Overseas Territories. He said that the British Virgin Islands is aware of its responsibilities within the partnership, which continues to be important to the jurisdiction as an Overseas Territory.

In the statement to the House of Assembly, the Premier noted that the UK has had special relationships with many territories, and most of them have become self-governing nations, involved in global community. He said that this relationship continues to evolve as the 14 territories seek more and more independence, and within this framework it became possible to negotiate a modern new constitution for the British Virgin Islands.

Premier Smith commented on the release of the White Paper: "I welcome the new white paper and look forward to the continuing maturity of the BVI both economically and in its relationship with the United Kingdom. As a Government, we are determined to carry out our responsibility to the people of the Territory in a transparent and accountable manner...While we are aware of our responsibilities within this Partnership, we also expect that during this redefined relationship that the gains that we have made politically and constitutionally as a Territory over the past decades will continue to be improved upon."

Public consultations on the Overseas Territories strategy were held by the UK FCO from September 2011 to January 2012. The results can be found on the FCO website at http://ukoverseasterritories.readandcomment.com. The newly released White Paper can be found at http://www.fco.gov.uk/overseas-territories/white-paper.

Monday, July 02, 2012

UK Issued White Paper on Overseas Territories


Last week, White Paper was published by the UK government, aimed at renewal and strengthening of country’s relationship with its Overseas Territories. The document is entitled “The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability”, and, according to Foreign Secretary William Hague, it is the first review of the Overseas Territories since 1999. He said that the White Paper is designed to meet the diverse challenges of the British Overseas Territories, and to set the ways how they can be supported.

The White Paper was developed by several government departments working in co-operation, and in consultations with the people and governments of the Territories, including British Virgin Islands. The goals on which the White Paper is focused are: strengthening engagement between the UK and the Territories; strengthening good governance, public financial management and economic planning in the Territories where it is necessary; and increasing the support available to the Territories.

William Hague said in his comments on publishing the White Paper: “As well as having a responsibility to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories, we want the Territories to be vibrant, flourishing communities that proudly retain aspects of their British identity.”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The BVI FSC Issued Public Statement on Insurance Company


The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission issued the public statement concerning Western Preferred Life Assurance Limited, also operating as Western Preferred Life Insurance Limited, which has discontinued out of the BVI jurisdiction into another one.

The public statement informs that the company is no longer licensed or regulated by the FSC and is subject to enforcement action that remains outstanding.

Western Preferred Life Insurance Limited was formerly licensed by the FSC to conduct general insurance business from within the BVI territory in the class of Property Insurance, Liability Insurance, Financial Loss Insurance, and Accident & Health Insurance. In 2010, an administrative penalty was imposed on the company, in the amount of US$4,000.00 for failing to submit audited financial statements within the required period. Then, the same year, the FSC required the company to implement a plan of prescribed remedial actions by a deadline of 31 January, 2011. The administrative penalty was not paid, and the remedial actions have not been implemented by the company.

Western Preferred Life Insurance Limited was struck off the BVI company register on 25 November, 2010, the licence having been revoked on 7 June, 2012.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BVI FSC Publishes Advisory Warning on the Belarus Order, 2011

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission issued advisory warning, informing on the publication of The Belarus (Restrictive Measures) (Overseas Territories) Order, 2011.

By this notice, The Belarus (Restrictive Measures) (Overseas Territories) Order, 2006 has been revoked, and notice is further given of the Belarus (Restrictive Measures) (Overseas Territories) Order, 2011 which has been amended by the Belarus (Restrictive Measures) (Overseas Territories) (Amendment) Order, 2011.

These Orders give effect to restrictive measures adopted by the European Union in respect of Belarus, which include prohibition on the supply and delivery of arms and related material, the freezing of the funds and economic resources, and prohibition on making funds and economic resources available to persons or entities listed in Annex I and IA to the Council Regulation. This information is published on the EU website at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:134:0001:0011:EN:PDF.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

BVI FSC Issues Public Statements on Insurance Companies

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission has issued public statements concerning the following companies: Hove Insurance Company Limited, Settlement Casualty Corporation, and Vessia Insurance Company Limited. By the public statements, the general public becomes aware that these companies are no longer licensed or regulated by the Commission, and are subject to enforcement action that remains outstanding. All the three companies were formerly licensed by the BVI FSC to conduct insurance business from within the territory.

In October, 2010, the BVI FSC imposed an administrative penalty on Hove Insurance Company Limited, in the amount of US$4,000.00 for failing to timely submit audited financial statements. The company did not pay it, and as a result of the non-payment of its fees, on 1 May, 2010 it was struck off the BVI company register maintained at the Registry of Corporate Affair. It is no longer licensed and regulated by the Commission, the license having expired on 31 December, 2009.

In November, 2010, the Commission imposed an administrative penalty on Settlement Casualty Corp, in the amount of US$5,000.00 for failing to submit audited financial statements to the FSC within the approved or prescribed period. This administrative penalty was not paid, and remains outstanding. The company was struck off the BVI company register as a result of the non-payment of its fees. The license of the company has expired on 31 December, 2009.

In December 2009, the FSC imposed an administrative penalty on Vessia Insurance Company Limited in the amount of US$4,000.00, for failing to submit audited financial statements to the FSC within the approved or prescribed period. This administrative penalty was not paid, and remains outstanding. In June, 2011 the Commission imposed an administrative penalty on the company in the amount of US$6,000.00. The company was struck off the register on 1 May, 2010, as a result of the non-payment of its fees. The company is no longer licensed and regulated by the FSC, the license having expired on 31 December, 2009.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

OECD Survey: BVI First by Financial Behaviour

The findings of international financial literacy survey, which was undertaken in 14 countries around the world by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) International Network on Financial Education (INFE), were recently published in the OECD paper. According to these findings, the British Virgin Islands jurisdiction has the highest score in positive financial behaviour when compared to other countries.

The survey measuring financial literacy analyses the differences in financial knowledge, behaviour and attitude across countries and within countries, mainly by socio-demographic characteristics. The authors of the survey consider that the survey “provides the first ever rich and detailed insight into the financial literacy of diverse populations,” and say the findings also highlight reasons for concern.

The BVI shows average results in the financial knowledge section, but scores highest in the section of financial behaviour – followed by Malaysia and Germany. Financial behaviours noticeably vary across countries. BVI, Malaysia and Germany are active savers, while Hungary, Estonia and Armenia are less active in saving. The BVI, Peru and Armenia are more likely to set long term financial goals, while in Germany, UK and Ireland people choose active financial products.

In the financial attitude section, BVI follows Albania, Peru, Hungary and Norway, with their most positive attitude towards planning for the future.

Analysing financial literacy in relation to demographic factor, the authors of the survey expressed their concern about the gender gaps. In the BVI, 78% of men and only 66% of women gained high score for financial behaviour. There are also differences by age, education and income.

The 14 countries for the international pilot study were the British Virgin Islands, Albania, Armenia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Malaysia, Norway, Peru, Poland, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Among them, the BVI and Germany are the top countries with high levels of financial literacy. In 12 countries, the original survey was completed in 2010, and BVI and Albania completed the survey in 2011.

By the definition of the OECD, financial literacy as “a combination of awareness, knowledge, skill, attitude and behaviour necessary to make sound financial decisions and ultimately achieve individual wellbeing.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Commission Publishes Restrictive Measures Concerning Iran and Libya

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission has published Advisory Warnings concerning the requirement for the public to comply with the requirements of The Iran (Restrictive Measures) (Overseas Territories) Order 2011, and The Libya (Restrictive Measures) (Overseas Territories) (Amendment) Order 2011.

The Order concerning Iran came into force on 16 December, 2011, and was made as a result of the European Union in Council Decision 2011/235/CFSP on 12 April, 2011, calling upon member states to freeze the funds and economic resources, of certain persons responsible for human rights violation in Iran. The Amendment Order on Libya came into force of 18 November, 2011, as a result of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2009 (2011) adopted on 16 September, 2011, which called to apply certain measures to give effect to decisions of that Council in relation to Libya.

The Amended Orders include the full list of designated persons in each of the two countries to whom the measures concern.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Advisory Warning No. 3 Published by the BVI FSC

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission has published Advisory Warning No. 3, concerning the investment company INVESTMENTCODE Inc., which is offering investment opportunities on its websites at http://invcode.com, and presenting itself as being incorporated and registered in the British Virgin Islands. In the Advisory Warning, the FSC informs that INVESTMENTCODE Inc. is not and has not at any time been incorporated or registered in the BVI jurisdiction or licensed by the Commission.

The public is also invited to provide the Commission with any relevant information on other questionable entities which are operating in or from within the BVI territory.

Friday, April 27, 2012

BVI and UK Sign New Fiscal Protocol

The UK and the BVI governments have signed new fiscal protocols for a new partnership that includes information sharing as it relates to the territory's finances, but does not include the controversial provision to send the budget for pre-approval. The documents were signed on April 23 by UK Minister for Overseas Territories, Henry Bellingham, and Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. D. Orlando Smith, and Governor Boyd McCleary. Under the new protocol, the BVI commits to transparency in the management of the public finances that is consistent with the highest standards of governance and democracy.

Prior to signing the protocol, there was a concern that the BVI will have to have its full budget approved by the UK government prior to it being passed locally. The questions were asked about this issue, but Minister Bellingham maintained that information sharing was the key element of the protocol. Also, when questioned if there is difference from the situation in the Cayman Islands where that government has to send their budget to the UK for pre-approval, Bellingham said that, unlike some countries, the UK does not have a one size fits all for Territories.

“We don’t micro manage, we actually believe in working in partnerships, we believe in building up trust and the trust we’re building up between our two governments is manifest… and we have every confidence that information will be shared in the future,” the UK minister explained.

This is Bellingham's first visit to the BVI territory, and the first visit of a British government minister to the jurisdiction since April 2009. BVI Premier and UK Minister discussed a range of topics, including BVI's financial strategy, the forthcoming Overseas Territories White Paper, and other important issues. The UK Minister stated that the BVI is a huge success story, and a world class financial service center.

Friday, April 20, 2012

British Virgin Islands Introduce IBAN

Premier and Minister of Finance of the British Virgin Islands, D. Orlando Smith, OBE, told the Department of Information and Public Relations that the introduction of the International Bank Account Numbers (IBAN) is a very important developent for the British Virgin Islands territory. By his words, this step “has positioned the BVI as a world-class banking centre, by putting the BVI on the same level with more than 50 other countries”, nurturing BVI´s banking business overall. He also added: "We are convinced that the BVI banking industry, although very small compared to other banking centres, will grow further as it continues to participate in activities to engage international standards of the industry."

The Ministry of Finance of the jurisdiction, upon the initiative of the BVI Bank Association, endorsed the application for a national country code to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) – the official registrar to the IBAN. SWIFT approved the application allowing the national IBAN format for the BVI available to worldwide banks effective this month.

President of the BVI Bank Association Ms. Joycelyn Murraine said that, BVI being a member of IBAN, efficiency will be gained, enabling Straight Through Processing, and by that the territory can attract significant banking business from new markets and banks.

The International Bank Account Numbers are unique codes assigned to bank accounts to standardise and simplify the international money transfer process.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

BVI Offshore Law Firm Advised on USD 1.1bn Debt Conversion

British Virgin Islands office of international offshore expert firm Ogier has adviced CEMEX – one of the world's largest cement and building materials makers, listed on New York and Mexican stock exchanges, – on its most recent notes transaction valued at USD 1.1 bn, which closed at the end of March. CEMEX completed the exchange of approximately 48% of the outstanding perpetual debentures for new senior secured notes, which will mature in 2019. This transaction has reduced CEMEX's total debt by USD131m.

Ray Wearmouth, Managing Partner of Ogier BVI, has said: “Ogier BVI has built our offering around providing high quality, seamless and fully integrated services across practices and geographies and our most recent work with CEMEX is an excellent legal and fiduciary example of those capabilities being fully utilised for a blue-chip client.”


CEMEX's CFO Fernando Gonzalez said that “These exchange offers allow CEMEX to further reduce its refinancing risk and its overall indebtedness (including Perpetual Debentures), two important components in our ongoing financial strategy.”

Friday, March 30, 2012

Commission Enhances Security Features of Certificates

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission has announced the introduction of new, additionally secured certificates. All certificates issued by the BVI FSC will receive enhanced security features, with the purpose to minimise incidents of counterfeiting and to preserve authenticity of the official documents.

CEO and Managing Director of the Commission, Robert Mathavious said in his comments that the introduction of the new certificates was a timely initiative that will protect both the jurisdiction and the customers from forgery and illegal reproduction of official documents for illicit purposes.

The new certificates of the Commission will have blue or blue/green graded background, and will bear the logo of the Commission and the words ““Territory of the Virgin Islands.” There will be also other enhanced security features including anti-copy markings on the back of each certificate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

UK Receives Feedback on BVI and Other Overseas Territories

The UK government received feedback as part of its consultation on the review of its relationship with country's overseas territories, including BVI and other Caribbean territories. It was stated that the government should support its Overseas Territories to develop sustainable economic models, and provide assistance to ensure good governance by local governments.

One of the most often named challenges that interfere with economic development in the British Overseas Territories was the need for the diversification of jurisdictions' economies. Economic diversification was raised by various respondents to the consultation.

According to the official submission of the Premier of the British Virgin Islands, the contraction of tourism and financial services has had “multiplier effects across all sectors of the society”. This issue was also raised in the official response by the government of the Cayman Islands.

The respondents also said that transparency, poor planning and corruption were the most prominent issues in relation to good governance and stated that the UK could assist with solving these problems by providing audits and advice to local authorities. This issue was raised by residents of the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Montserrat.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Advisory Warning No.2 Issued by BVI FSC

Advisory Warning No. 2 of 2012 was published by the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission on 29 February, 2012, relating to the Stand Online Ltd./ Fidelity Ltd. - the companies which offered investment opportunities on the websites at www.stockcastle.com, and presented itself as being incorporated and registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The BVI FSC informed the public that Stand Online Ltd. / Fidelity Ltd. is not, and has not at any time been incorporated or registered in the British Virgin Islands jurisdiction, or licensed by the Financial Services Commission. The Commission urged the public to exercise extreme caution in conducting any transactions with Stand Online Ltd. / Fidelity Ltd.

Also, the Commission has been advised that neither of the entities has any affiliation to Fidelity Corporate Services Ltd. and Fidelity Management Services Limited – the companies which are licensed by the FSC, and have all the rights to offer incorporation and investment services in the British Virgin Islands jurisdiction.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Premier Speaking on BVI Tourist Board Activities

BVI Premier and Minister for Finance having responsibility for the tourism sector, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith, said that the first one hundred days have been an intense listening period for members of newly appointed BVI Tourist Board.

The Premier said that in the very beginning of the year the Tourist Board organized a formal Tourism Stakeholders consultation to get information from the tourism industry on a number of topics ranging from the “BVI Brand” to infrastructural development, marketing collaboration, investment in new and existing product offerings and how the Board could be more responsive to stakeholders. Subsequent to that meeting, the Tourist Board have been in contact with the airlines, ferry operators, with the Dive Association, and other organizations. Hon. Orlando Smith stated that the consultations will continue in order to find workable solutions to attract visitors to the British Virgin Islands.

According to the Premier, the BVI Tourist Board continues its partnership with the International Finance Centre and Shipping Registry, concentrating on obtaining the benefits of synergy in brand and target markets.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Harneys Launches Textbook on BVI Law

On February 15, Harneys law firm launched the publication of 'British Virgin Islands Commercial Law', which is the first textbook that focuses exclusively on BVI law and practice. This event was attended by the representatives of business and legal community.

Governor McCleary and Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. D. Orlando Smith congratulated Harneys on the book's publication and talked on the significance of such a publication about the British Virgin Islands which depends on financial services industry. By words of Premier Smith, Harneys for several decades has been a committed company in the British Virgin Islands.

The textbook is written by Harneys lawyers and published by leading legal publisher, Sweet and Maxwell. It includes chapters on Company Law, Credit and Security, Law of Property, Financial Services Law, Investment Funds, Insolvency Law, Dispute Resolution and Trusts.

In January, the firm celebrated the publication of the new textbook in Hong Kong where it held legal seminar and interactive session on recent legal developments in the BVI jurisdiction.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

BVI FSC Published Advisory Warning on Pyramid Scheme Frauds

In January, a special Advisory Warning was published by the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission, which became the first document of this kind in the year 2012, urging investors to beware of Pyramid Scheme Frauds and other investment scams.

In this press release, a pyramid scheme is defined as a fraudulent money-making scheme based on a non-sustainable business model that involves the exchange of money primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, without delivering a legitimate product or service. The published document contains also the signs of a pyramid structure becoming a pyramid scheme – for example, if joining the group allows the new member to profit by signing up new members, it is normally scam. There are also other ways to identify pyramid schemes.

The BVI FSC warns that if these companies do not disclose information on the risks involved or tell clients otherwise then they would be involved in illegal schemes. Also, legitimate trading schemes rely on valuable goods and services, while illegal pyramid schemes focus simply on recruiting investors.

On the British Virgin Islands website, there is additional information on pyramid schemes, how to evaluate potential opportunities to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, and some tips on what you can do if you have become a victim of pyramid scheme fraud.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

British Foreign Secretary Talks on UK-Caribbean Forum

The British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that he will lead delegation of UK ministers and senior officials to attend the UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum. Hague said the commitment to coincide with the government's review of its relationship with the UK Overseas territories which include the Caribbean territories of the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Anguilla, Bermuda, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands, is a sign of the strength the United Kingdom attaches to its 'enduring friendship' with the Caribbean territories. He said: “We believe this will herald a transition to a more modern, dynamic and forward looking affiliation.”

The British Foreign Secretary expressed his opinion that a modern relationship between the UK and Caribbean territories should centre around three principles: first, it should be a modern partnership, an equal relationship that should be based on the shared history and culture and at the same time set the right tone for the twenty-first century. Secondly, the countries need a dynamic partnership that provides real benefits for their citizens. And, finally, the UK's relationship with the Caribbean countries should be a broad-based partnership that involves business, civil society and ordinary people.

Hague also noted that this forum is an “invaluable opportunity for the UK to work with its partners in the Caribbean region for a strong, equal and prosperous partnership based on shared ideals and mutual understanding.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

BVI Government Plans to Concentrate on Financial Services and Tourism

Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. D. Orlando Smith has said in his New Year's message on Facebook that in developing the economy of the British Virgin Islands there would be two major traditional pillars – tourism and financial services. He added that the BVI government “will also focus on supporting our small businesses because keeping them afloat is critical to our economic well-being.”

Premier Smith also spoke about the challenges which are to be responded this year: “We have challenges ahead but with those challenges come new opportunities for us to break away from old ways of thinking and forge new paths for ourselves as a people and as a territory.”

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Tenth Anniversary of British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission

This week, there was the 10th anniversary since the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission had been established as an independent regulatory authority for the international financial centre. In December 2001, the Financial Services Commission Act was passed that formally created the Financial Services Commission on 2 January, 2002.

Since that time, the Commission has successfully operated as the body responsible for the regulation, supervision and inspection of all financial services business conducted in and from within the British Virgin Islands. The Registry of Corporate Affairs is a division within the BVI Financial Services Commission that administers the BVI Business Companies Act.

Before the creation of the Financial Services Commission, the financial services industry within the British Virgin Islands was regulated by the BVI government through the Financial Services Department under the Ministry of Finance. All responsibilities previously handled by Government through the Financial Services Department have been taken by the Commission since its establishment.