Wednesday, November 08, 2017

CARICOM will Hold Conference to Support its Members


Next month, on November 20-21, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will hold a high-level donor conference in the US, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The conference will have the purpose to mobilise international resources for member CARICOM countries devastated by hurricanes, among them Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, St Kitts-Nevis, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands and St Martin.

According to the statement issued by CARICOM secretariat, the initiative is “aimed at rebuilding the devastated members as the first climate resilient countries in the world and helping the wider CARICOM region improve its resilience”…”International Development Partners, friendly countries, NGOs, prominent personalities, private sector entities and foundations have been invited. CARICOM heads of government and the Secretaries-General of CARICOM and the United Nations will also participate.”

Friday, October 27, 2017

BVI FSC Announced Appointment of New Asia Representative


The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission has issued press release where announced the appointment of Mr. Burton Chalwell who will replace Mr. Leon Wheatley as the new Asia Representative of the Commission. Mr. Wheatley will return to the BVI headquarters of the BVI FSC and serve as a Deputy Director with supervision of the Compliance Inspection Unit.

The appointment of Mr. Chalwell was effective 9 October 2017, and previous representative is expected to assume his new post on 13 November 2017. In the role of Asia Rep at BVI FSC (HK) Ltd., Mr. Chalwell’s duty will be managing the delivery of services offered from the Commission’s office at BVI House Asia, and the Asia Pacific liaison for BVI Financial Services licensees and regulators with a presence in the region

Robert Mathavious, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, commented on the appointment, saying: “Asia continues to be a key market for the British Virgin Islands and we are very pleased with the talent that the Commission has in the region and the services and expertise we can provide in Asia. We are confident that Mr. Chalwell will be an excellent addition to the team. We are also very excited that Mr. Wheatley will be coming back to Commission headquarters after a very successful stint in Asia and look forward to his continued service to the Commission and the industry.”

Saturday, October 21, 2017

BVI Financial Services Industry Continues Functioning


According to the leaders of the British Virgin Islands financial services industry, there is no loss of confidence in the businesses, despite the severe damages done to the territory by Hurricane Irma. Head of Business Development and Marketing department in BVI Finance, Gary Hales, said: “Generally, people are still comfortable using the BVI. By way of example, there are three potential funds which are still looking at the possibility of using BVI… There is no sense of loss of confidence or business, so the BVI is definitely proving that the financial services industry is robust.”

The director of BVI House Asia in Hong Kong, Elise Donovan, confirmed that the financial services industry there is appreciative of accessibility to services; also, the Cayman Islands where all the large companies operating in the BVI are now represented, note the seamless continuation of BVI services. 

It is also important that the premises of BVI Financial Services Commission, regulating the financial industry, survived the hurricane. So, they became operational in some days, and full functionality has been restored to the online company registration portal.

Interim Executive Director at BVI Finance, Lorna Smith, said that there was a keen determination among industry partners to ensure the survival of financial services as part of the overall recovery for the British Virgin Islands.

Monday, October 16, 2017

National Bank Suspending Loan Payments


The National Bank of the Virgin Islands announced that it would put a three-month suspension on payments for all personal, residential and commercial loans, in connection with Hurricane Irma. The customers having personal loans are not required to take any action, while persons with residential mortgages and commercial loans are required to fill out and sign a form confirming the status of their property and/or business, insurance claims, and future intentions.

All payment moratorium requests are to be submitted to the Bank by October, 27, while those who wish to continue payment need only contact the bank. 

The National Bank will also host a series of community outreach sessions aimed at facilitating customers who want to take advantage of its loan concessions.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

BVI Government Establishes Business Development Fund


BVI Premier Dr D Orlando Smith announced that the Government is offering loans to persons whose businesses were damaged or destroyed during the hurricanes. He said that the BVI Government is going to create a special Business Development Fund, where businesses can apply within the next two weeks.

The fund is established in order to recover the economy struck by the storm. The Government will also provide generators to businesses that still need power after the hurricanes. The Premier said: “It is a priority for me to ensure that your local businesses are up and running and that they continue to provide goods and services to us and also jobs to our people for the continuation of our economy.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

Augustus Jaspert Became the 13th Governor of the Territory


Augustus Jaspert was sworn in as the new governor of the British Virgin Islands. The governor took the oath of allegiance and the oath of due execution of office before the audience of government ministers, high court justice, members of the House of Assembly, senior government officials and other guests.

The new governor was welcomed by BVI Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr Orlando Smith, who pledged his government's support and commitment, saying: “The BVI has much to offer and I am confident that you will make a valuable contribution to the territory’s growth and development. I encourage you to explore our beautiful islands and become intimately acquainted with the people of these islands in whose interest we must work.” 

Leader of the opposition Andrew Fahie also welcomed the new governor. The governor in his turn assured the BVI government and the opposition of his commitment to the British Virgin Islands, and said he sees his role as one of service and partnership with the elected government, public service, the United Kingdom; the faith, voluntary and community organisations, and the people of the territory.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Quarterly Statistical Bulletin Issued by BVI FSC


The BVI Financial Services Commission published the forty-seventh volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, which analyses financial services activities in the jurisdiction in the second quarter of 2017. In this period, 7,621 new business companies were incorporated in the BVI, compared to 8,695 incorporations in the previous quarter and 6,767 incorporations in the second quarter of 2016. By the end of the second quarter of 2017, cumulative number of companies in the jurisdiction made 395,684. Also, there were 29 Private Trust Companies and 22 Limited Partnerships registered in the period; their cumulative number as at 30 June, 2017 was 1,094 and 712, respectively.

According to Investment Business statistics, 6 new licences were granted to approved investment managers, and 13 Mutual funds were registered/recognised in the second quarter. In Insolvency services, total number of insolvency practitioners reached 27 (26 in the first quarter, 24 in the second quarter of 2016). In Insurance, there were 3 newly issued insurance licences, cumulative number being 175. 

International Co-operation matters in the reported quarter included 19 formal and 4 informal incoming requests, 1 formal outgoing request, 147 enforcement matters and 26 enforcement investigations. 132 ongoing supervision matters were referred to LSC (the Licensing and Supervisory Committee) in the sphere of Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary services, 38 in Investment Business, and 45 in Insurance. Further and complete information about the financial services statistics in the BVI territory can be found on the website of the Commission.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

British Virgin Islands Among Top Destinations for Offshore Investments


The research was conducted in Netherlands looking at how particular countries and jurisdictions are used by corporations to minimize their tax liabilities. It was found that the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, Singapore and Switzerland are the five large countries most popular as intermediate destinations for corporations to access low-tax financial centres. The British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong and Jersey are the largest offshore financial centres in terms of investment volume.

The report says: "Our results show that offshore finance is not the exclusive business of exotic small islands far away... Countries such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom play a crucial yet previously hidden role as conduits of offshore finance on its way to 'tax havens.'"

Thursday, June 29, 2017

BVI Implementing Beneficial Ownership Search Platform


The BVI government completed legislative requirements to implement the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search system - an innovative technology-enabled searchable portal changing the way how beneficial ownership information on BVI companies is held and accessed, and also shared with competent authorities in the BVI and the United Kingdom. The new platform was developed following the exchange of notes with the UK in April 2016.

Corporate service providers are required to upload the beneficial ownership of their clients to the new system, where the BVI competent authorities may find information available within 24 hours. By words of BVI Premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, “Through its use of technology BOSSs perfectly blends the principles of privacy and security and is entirely fit for purpose. Working with BDO, we have developed a world class platform that will benefit all stakeholders, including corporate service providers, company owners and law enforcement agencies.

Other jurisdictions are acting similarly to further improve standards for holding and making beneficial ownership information accessible to competent authorities.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Financial Services Statistics Published for the First Quarter of 2017


The BVI Financial Services Commission has published the forty-sixth volume of its Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing important statistics, analysis and information on financial services in the British Virgin Islands in the first quarter of 2017. In this period, 8695 new business companies were incorporated in the jurisdiction, compared to 7,780 companies registered in the fourth quarter of 2016, and 9,456 new companies in the first quarter of the previous year. Cumulative number of BC's incorporated in the British Virgin Islands as at 31 March 2017 was 431,776. 

Also, according to the statistics of the Registry of Corporate Affairs, in the reported period 32 Private-Trust Companies and 16 Limited Partnerships were registered (27 and 20, respectively, in the same period of 2016). 

In the Insolvency Services sector, 26 fully licensed Mutual Funds were incorporated or re-registered in the first quarter of 2017. In the Insurance Services, total number of insurers as at March 31, 2017 was 172, this figure including captives and domestic.

In the sphere of International Co-operation, there were 169 enforcement matters and 16 enforcement investigations reported. 87 ongoing supervision matters were referred to LSC and related to Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary Services, 79 were related to Investment Business, and 56 related to Insurance. Other statistics and information can be found on http://www.bvifsc.vg/.

Monday, June 05, 2017

BVI Strengthens Relations with Association of Caribbean States


BVI London Office director, Benito Wheatley, met with Dr June Soomer, secretary general of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), in Trinidad to discuss the potential advantages of the ACS to the British Virgin Islands. During the exploratory meeting, Soomer provided summary of Association's core areas, and highlighted benefits of ACS membership for member states and associate members.

The meeting came as BVI Premier Dr Orlando Smith continued to deepen BVI engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean territories to strengthen country's international ties, and position the territory for the future. Wheatley said in his comments on the meeting: “The secretary general provided an excellent overview of the impressive work currently being done by the ACS across a number of areas of importance to the BVI.” 

The main aim of the Association is strengthening of regional co-operation and integration process, its member states include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

BVI Discussed Freedom of Movement to EU with UK Representatives


Representatives of the UK Home Office and UK Department for Exiting the EU held a meeting with the BVI delegation to discuss freedom of movement to the European Union for Overseas Territories citizens at a Brexit technical roundtable in London held on May 9. During the roundtable, BVI London Office director and EU representative Benito Wheatley emphasised the importance of visa-free travel to the EU for the BVI business persons and stated that the jurisdiction is the headquarters of the Commercial Court Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and home to a new International Arbitration Centre.

Previously, the BVI delegation took part in a Brexit technical roundtable on fisheries and agriculture in April this year, and is planning to attend upcoming technical roundtables on European Union funding, trade, and financial services. 

The BVI Premier Dr Orlando Smith mandated Brexit Task Force chaired by permanent secretary in the Premier's Office, Brodrick Penn, to prepare a White Paper on the opportunities and risks posed to BVI by Brexit, ahead of the second UK-OT Joint Ministerial Council on Brexit Negotiations on July 12.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

BVI Finance Presented at Africa Financial Services Investment Conference


BVI Finance, which is responsible for marketing and promoting financial services industry of the jurisdiction, showcased BVI unique propositions for Africa at the Africa Financial Services Investment Conference (AFSIC) which was held in London on 3-5 May.

This year, BVI Finance was the gold sponsor of the Conference which is a leading investment event focused in Africa's financial services sector. BVI team comprised six members of BVI Finance who engaged with stakeholders from across the continent and positioned the BVI as a leading jurisdiction for chanelling investment in and from Africa

Interim executive director at BVI Finance, Lorna Smith, made a presentation during a panel session entitled "The BVI Advantage" where highlighted BVI advantages as a leading partner for the region, emphasized the quality of professionals working in the BVI international financial sector, and capital flows that already exist between the BVI and Africa.

In her comments on the conference Smith said:"AFSIC was a major success for BVI Finance. We educated many influential stakeholders about the BVI and its unique advantages and made some excellent connections which will put us in good stead for the future.”

Saturday, May 06, 2017

New Vistra Report: BVI Ranked as Top Offshore Jurisdiction


The 2017 edition of Vistra 2020 report was launched in Hong Kong and Singapore, which ranked the British Virgin Islands as the top offshore jurisdiction in the world. The United Kingdom was ranked first as the onshore jurisdiction, followed by Hong Kong as midshore; the BVI is in the third place, followed by the United States in the onshore category.

The report named "Vistra 2020: The Uncertainty Principle: The State of the Trust, Fund and Corporate Services Industry 2017" examines trends and factors affecting global financial services industry, in the period since the last report published in 2015

The Asian growth drivers of the financial industry listed in the report are supporting the BVI position as Asia's number one international finance jurisdiction. Investors from China and other Asian countries make use of the trust-related offerings of the jurisdiction to develop succession planning and secure asset protection under Virgin Islands Special Trust Act (VISTA) trusts and Private Trust Companies (PTCs). BVI trusts and wealth-planning services provide privacy, since assets are held in the trustee’s name.

Elise Donovan, director, BVI House Asia, said: “The newly licensed Bank of Asia, the first online, cloud-based bank, will launch later this year. It is poised to drive banking costs lower while increasing the level of convenience and efficiency afforded to customers opening BVI accounts.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BVI Business Management Consultants May Participate in EU-initiated Projects


Business consultants in the British Virgin Islands, as well as in other Overseas Territories included into the Chapter of the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants (CICMC), will receive the opportunity to bid on regional and international projects and initiatives under the EU portfolio, after being certified and trained. The OCT chapter of CICMC was launched in the BVI on April 6, driven by CICMC-OCT inductee and the chapter’s first president, Marva Titley-Smith.

BVI Premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, said that the initiative is consistent with government's agenda to support and strengthen the small business community in the jurisdiction, and commented: “We will continue to do all that we can to provide an enabling environment for small business to develop and thrive, thereby building a strong economy for the territory.” 

Along with the BVI business consultants, the OCT Chapter of CICMC is open to consultants in Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Montserrat, Saba, St Barthelme, St Eustatius, St Maarten, the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Monday, April 10, 2017

IMF Issued Document on CARICOM Countries' Tax Reforms


The International Monetary Fund has issued the new paper where informed that CARICOM members including the British Virgin Islands need more tax reform while having benefited from introducing VAT. In the opinion of the IMF, zero-rating of domestic supplies, generous exemptions, low registration thresholds have negative effect on the performance of VAT in the CARICOM countries, which should enhance the efficiency of their regimes.

The IMF also asked CARICOM members to pay closer attention to other major taxes: to simplify personal income tax regimes to simplify compliance and improve compliant rates; to coordinate on the design of corporate income tax systems and to tackle international tax evasion and avoidance. It also urged member countries to implement programs to strengthen IT support, audit capacity and enforcement.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

BVI EU Representative Takes Part in Discussions with CARIFORUM and ACP


In the mid of March, BVI EU representative Benito Wheatley had a meeting in Brussels, Belgium with secretary general of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries, to discuss the alternative post-Brexit relationship between the British Virgin Islands and the European Union. Wheatley expressed interest of the BVI in establishing close ties with the organization in the future agreements with the EU.

Also, the BVI EU representative attended CARIFORUM ambassadors meetings where discussed BVI plans to engage with the Caribbean states organization and participate in their future arrangements with the EU. Financial services were emphasized as the main area of immediate cooperation, especially concerning Caribbean jurisdictions' ongoing dialogue with the European Union on international tax cooperation. 

Wheatley's discussions with the ACP group of countries and CARIFORUM are in line with BVI Premier's mandate given to BVI EU representative, to explore different options for jurisdiction's relationship with the organization. The meetings in which Wheatley participated on behalf of the BVI were part of Caribbean Tourism Organization's mission to Brussels to discuss with EU stakeholders the impact of Brexit on the Caribbean.

Monday, March 20, 2017

BVI FSC Published Financial Statistics for Q4 2016


On March 17, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission published forty-fifth volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, providing information and statistics on financial services activities in the jurisdiction in the fourth quarter of 2016. In this period ended 31 December 2016, the Registry of Corporate Affairs reported 7,780 new company incorporations, an increase as compared to 7,766 companies registered in the third quarter of the year. By the end of 2016, cumulative number of companies was 416,784. In the reported period, there were also 37 Private Trust Companies and 17 Limited Partnerships incorporated in BVI.

According to Investment Business figures, total number of funds registered/recognized in the jurisdiction in the fourth quarter was 18, cumulative number by the end of the year 2016 being 1,614. There was 1 Mutual Fund incorporated, cumulative number being 145. As at 31 December 2016, 176 Insurers and 40 Functionaries were registered in the British Virgin Islands. 

International Cooperation statistics shows 34 formal and 9 informal incoming requests filed in the reported quarter of the year, as well as 17 outgoing requests, 89 enforcement matters and 14 enforcement investigations. Among ongoing supervision matters referred to the Licensing and Supervisory Committee, 122 related to Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary Services, 42 related to Investment Business, and 30 related to Insurance. Cumulative total number of Trade Marks Agents registered in Q4 2016 was 22.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

BVI Established Task Force to Examine Brexit Implications


BVI Premier Dr D Orlando Smith is planning to establish a task-force to examine the implications of Brexit on the BVI territory. The new task force, headed by Premier Smith, will include other government ministers and technocrats.

The White Paper on the implications for BVI of Britain leaving the European Union is expected to be ready before representatives of the jurisdiction again meet with members of the British government in June and in November 2017. The British government is expected to present the concerns of the BVI and other British Overseas Territories during negotiations regarding Brexit. 

Premier Smith noted that, during the meeting recently held with members of the British government, he highlighted some of the Brexit challenges and opportunities that may arise for the British Virgin Islands. The BVI priorities set by the Premier included freedom of movement, international trade and EU funding.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BVI Premier Visited London to Discuss Brexit Impact on OTs


BVI Premier and Minister of Finance Dr Orlando Smith, has completed high level meetings in the United Kingdom. The premier along with other Overseas Territory leaders discussed the impact of Brexit on the territories, during the UK-OT Joint Ministerial Council on European Negotiations, and made a courtesy call on UK Prime Minister.

Also, he attended a number of other meetings including a meeting for OT leaders on beneficial ownership hosted by Home Office Minister of State for Security and Member of Parliament, Ben Wallace. During the meeting, the BVI implementation of beneficial ownership agreements was recognized as the most advanced. 

The BVI premier held meeting with vice chairman of the Conservative Party and Member of Parliament Mark Field, to demonstrate BVI's new system for exchanging beneficial ownership and discuss the priorities of the jurisdiction for Brexit negotiations.

Friday, January 27, 2017

BVI Hosted Meeting of Winair, Air France and KLM


On January 9, 2017, Winair, Air France and KLM had a joint sales and marketing meeting in the British Virgin Islands, with the purpose to share the latest positive developments between Air France, KLM and Winair which will enhance the market. The companies shared their schedules, traffic patterns and growth of European customers with stakeholders in the BVI.

The participants also discussed the planned codeshare between Winair and KLM and will further enhance connections to the BVI. The code share agreement between Winair and Air France cause the 100% yearly increases of French market growth to the BVI, and the planned codeshare with KLM will unite the route structures of Air France, KLM and Winair and promote better connections to the BVI and other Caribbean countries at a lower price.

Winair (Windward Islands Airways International NV) is a government-owned regional airline, providing air transportation in the Caribbean region, having interline partners with 11 airlines from North and South America, Europe and the Caribbean, and a codeshare agreement with Air France.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

BVI FSC Issues 44th Volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin


BVI Financial Services Commission has published the forty fourth volume of Quarterly Statistical Bulletin for the third quarter of the year ended September 2016. In the reported period there were 7,766 new companies, 24 Private Trust companies and 27 Limited Partnerships incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (6,767, 23 and 25 respectively in the second quarter of 2016). Cumulative number of BVI companies as at 30 September 2016 was 447,503, also there were 1,120 Private Trust companies and 751 Limited Partnerships in the jurisdiction.

In the third quarter of 2016, three Investment Business Licences were granted, according to Investment Business statistics; also, three professional and four private Mutual Funds licences. There were 26 fully licensed insolvency practitioners in the jurisdiction in this period. 

In the sphere of Legal and Enforcement and International Co-operation, there were 29 formal incoming and 47 outgoing requests for international co-operation, 63 enforcement matters and 17 enforcement investigation cases. Ongoing supervision matters referred to LSC in Q3 2016 included 130 related to Banking, Insolvency and Fiduciary services, 98 related to Investment Business, and 28 related to Insurance.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

BVI on the List of Countries for AEOI Consultations with Switzerland


British Virgin Islands is included in the list of the countries with which the Swiss Federal Department of Finance has launched a consultation on the introduction of the automatic exchange of information in tax matters (AEOI). The consultation will be held until March 15, 2017, and the AEOI for the listed countries is expected to enter into force on January 1, 2018, with first exchanges to start in 2019.

According to the Federal Department of Finance, the introduction of the AEOI with the new countries will confirm international commitment of Switzerland to implement the AEOI standards. 

The FDF said that these countries, which along with the BVI include Andorra, Argentina, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Chile, India, Israel, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, the Seychelles, and some others, adhere to the principle of speciality and implement appropriate measures to safeguard the confidentiality of the data exchanged.

In 2017, Switzerland will introduce the AEOI with EU member states, Australia, Iceland, Norway, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man.