Friday, February 28, 2014

BVI FSC Issued Statistical Bulletin for the Fourth Quarter of 2013

In the beginning of this week, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission published the thirty-third volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing information on financial services industry in the jurisdiction during the last quarter of 2013. According to the statistics of incorporations and registrations, 11,376 new companies (as compared to 12,809 in the third quarter of 2013 and 14,783 in the fourth quarter of the previous year), as well as 24 limited partnerships and 48 private trust companies were registered in this period. Cumulative number of business companies in BVI as at 31 December 2013 was 459,882.

According to the bar graph included in the Statistical Bulletin and reflecting dynamics of business company incorporations in the jurisdiction during the years 2009-2013, there is a decline in the number of new companies in 2013, especially as compared to the years 2011 and 2012, when the peak amount of incorporations could be observed. In 2013, the number of newly incorporated companies is still higher than in 2009. 

By the Banking and Fiduciary Services statistics, four entities were licensed in the fourth quarter of 2013, and total number of licensed entities achieved 235 as at 31 December 2013. In Investment Business, 43 new licenses were granted in the reported period, of which 33 were issued to professional mutual funds, and 8 were investment business licenses. Four licenses were granted in Insurance industry sector.

In the sphere of Legal and Enforcement and International Cooperation, there were 16 international cooperation matters with formal requests, requiring the disclosure of non-public information, and 35 enforcement matters. Also, in the fourth quarter of 2013, 132 ongoing supervision matters were registered in Banking and Fiduciary Services sector, 161 in Investment Business, and 32 in Insurance.

Further information, statistics and analysis of BVI financial services industry in Q4 2013 can be found on the home page of the Commission.

Monday, February 17, 2014

New Cybercrime Legislation Act Introduced in BVI

Last week, a bill was introduced in the British Virgin Islands House of Assembly named The Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act. This legislation document provides for fines of up to US$1 million or prison sentences of up to 20 years for individuals that illegally leak confidential information, and sentences of up to 15 years and/or fines of US$500,000 for anyone publishing such data, and applies to any person of any nationality. Actually, the law followed the global leak of information in the last year, published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and revealing private information on BVI companies contained in the secret files.

According to the survey of the industry, conducted by Offshore Incorporations Limited, the ICIJ’s reports had caused a “crisis of confidence” in the offshore industry and decline in offshore company incorporations, and particularly in the British Virgin Islands jurisdiction. Most offshore professionals stated that the disclosures have reduced demand for offshore financial vehicles or, in other cases, prompted clients to move their business from one financial centre to another. 

Press freedom manager of the International Press Institute (IPI) Barbara Trionfi said that "It is vital that the House of Assembly amend the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Bill to include a clear exception for information in the public interest, as journalists must be free to report on issues that affect democratic accountability." She added: "We are also concerned that the disproportionately harsh punishments foreseen by this bill, as well as a lack of specificity as to which information is protected, will contribute to a dangerous chilling effect on the media."

Thursday, February 06, 2014

BVI Ranked Fourth in UN Top List of Countries for Foreign Direct Investments

According to the survey conducted by the United Nations, the British Virgin Islands has been at the top of countries for foreign direct investments in the past five years. Last year, it received US$92 billion of foreign investment – more than the growing economies of Brazil and India together, with US$63 billion and US$28 billion respectively. Thus, the BVI became the fourth biggest investment destination in the world, in this ranking it follows the United States with US$159 billion, China with US$127 billion, and Russia, with just US$2 billion more than the British Virgin Islands.

The annual inflow of foreign investment of the jurisdiction in 2013 was 40% higher than last year, and continues a trend that took off after the economic crisis. However, governments are trying to tighten up their tax regulatory framework both at the national and international level. 

While for most countries, foreign direct investment consists of companies spending on corporate acquisitions and new overseas projects, for the BVI jurisdiction most of investment money goes quickly in and out of the country or cash moved through the treasury accounts of large companies, which UNCTAD defines as "transnational corporations".