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.