Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees
Specifically, the BVI reacted to the November, 2000 KPMG Independent Review of Financial Sectors in the Caribbean Overseas Territories. The three main recommendations of the KPMG report which apply to the BVI were the establishment of an independent regulatory authority, the enhancement of laws and systems for combating money laundering and the enactment of compulsory investigative powers to enable regulators to obtain and to share vital information with overseas regulators.
Companies offering trust services must be licensed under the Banks and Trust Companies Act 1990, and supervised by the Inspector of Banks, Trusts and Company Managers. Trust licenses are as follows:
A General Trust License permits services to be offered
generally; the minimium paid-up capital is (at the time
of writing) $250,000 and a deposit of not more than $100,000
must be made as prescribed by the Governor; the annual license
fee is $10,000;
A Restricted Trust License restricts the provision of services to those undertakings specified in the license. There are no minimum capital or deposit requirements; the annual license fee is $300.
Amendments to the licensing legislation in 1995 under the Banks and Trust Companies (Amendment) Act, 1995 incorporated 'gateways' which provide for the disclosure of information to the regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies in other countries to assist the investigation of illegal or criminal activities. The BVI authorities however do not respond to 'fishing expedition' enquiries from other jurisdictions. A 2010 amendment strengthened the Act's compliance provisions, while also streamlining the legislation.
In common with many other offshore jurisdictions, the British Virgin Islands responded to pressure from the OECD and FATF by tightening up its regulatory regime. The Government's Financial Services Department, acting through its consultative committees (the Mutual Funds Advisory Committee, the Financial Services Legislation Advisory Committee and the Harmful Tax Competition Task Force) collaborated with the BVI Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners, the Association of Registered Agents and the BVI Bar Association to discuss the necessary changes to the regulatory structure to comply with best practice.
As a result, on 1st January, 2002, the BVI Government established an independent Financial Services Commission. The formation of the FSC saw a division of the marketing and regulatory functions within the BVI offshore financial services centre.
In practical terms the FSC meant maintenance of the clear regulatory standards set out in previous legislation such as the Anti-Money Laundering Code of Practice (2000) and the Financial Services (International Co-operation) Act 2000. The FSC's Banking and Fiduciary Division ensures that all banks and corporate service providers operating in and from the BVI comply with international regulatory standards, established best business practices and relevant BVI laws.
Addressing the First House of Assembly on September 9, British Virgin Islands Premier, Ralph O’Neal announced that, in line with the jurisdiction’s commitment to acting as a responsible financial services centre, he would travel to the Netherlands to sign the islands’ thirteenth tax information exchange agreement on Friday, September 11.
The agreement marks a significant milestone for the territory, O’Neal noted, observing that it illustrates the jurisdiction's continued commitment to ensuring transparency in the operation of the financial services sector and to the principles of good governance, despite surpassing the twelve TIEA quota set by the G20 on April 2.
O’Neal noted that on August 13 the British Virgin Islands gained OECD ‘white list’ status following the conclusion of its twelfth TIEA with New Zealand, placing the territory on the list of jurisdictions deemed to have substantially implemented the internationally-agreed standard on transparency and information exchange.
“On that occasion I gave assurances that we will not stop there but rather, we will continue to pursue negotiations with a view to signing similar agreements with other countries. While we will primarily pursue these agreements with those countries which are members of the OECD, we are also willing to enter into similar agreements with other countries with which we conduct international business,” O’Neal revealed.
British Virgin Islands News
BVI To Review Taxes And Fees Monday 15/3/2010British Virgin Islands Prime Minister, Ralph O’Neal has said that the territory
will run a budget surplus during 2010, although the government still intends to review indirect taxes and fees on financial services.