26 April 2013

Virgin Islands International Finance Centre launches new website in response to recent media reports


Territory's Premier aggressively defends financial service sector

The British Virgin Islands International Finance Centre (BVIIFC) has launched a stand alone micro-website, ‘BVIfacts.info’, as a direct response to those reports.

International media interest has been generated as a result of the recent leak of confidential data from two trust companies connected to the BVI; information which was then passed on to selected media groups around the world.

Executive Director of the BVI IFC, Ms. Elise Donovan, told the Department of Information and Public Relations that her department launched the website in order to correct any misleading information being propagated in relation to the data leak.

“It is very important that we set the record straight on a number of key issues. While it is encouraging to see that some of the media reports have been balanced, misinformation is being published which we felt ought to be clearly addressed,” Ms. Donovan said.

The executive director added, “We are confident that this website will help us convey the highly positive role the BVI plays in the global economy as well as the strength of the services we provide, the breadth of our business base, and the world-class level of our legislation.”

In addressing Government’s stance on the recent media reports, Ms. Donovan said, “The BVI takes its reputation very seriously indeed. We abhor the use of private information that has been leaked and disseminated to the media. We strive to adhere and adapt to best-practice standards at all times.”

She continued, “It is our confidence in ensuring the jurisdiction stays current with international standards that has allowed us to maintain the view that the BVI now rivals, and in many cases, exceeds the regulatory standards of many onshore jurisdictions, particularly in the fight against financial crime.”

Referencing the information that can be found on the new site, Ms. Donovan said, “The site contains succinct facts about the BVI, along with other relevant collateral, and will grow and develop as an official resource base for all stakeholders.”

Ms. Donovan also said that anyone viewing the site should note based on the information contained on the site that the BVI is not a secrecy jurisdiction, demonstrated by the various agreements, regulatory bodies and legislations with which the BVI has signed on to, or to which the Territory is presently associated.

For example, the site contains information on the BVI’s 2002 agreement for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) principles of Transparency, Accountability and information exchange as they relate to tax matters.

As a member of the OECD Global Forum, the jurisdiction has signed 22 tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) and continues to negotiate with more than 10 other countries. In addition, the BVI shares information when legitimate requests are
made by the relevant treaty partners. The first TIEA BVI signed was in 2002 was with the USA.

Another fact highlighted on BVIfacts.info is the 1999 introduction of anti-money laundering (AML) legislation. The BVI was one of the first jurisdictions to do so and has implemented comprehensive AML laws and adopts stringent rules on know-your-customer
due diligence consistent with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) 40 + 9 recommendations.

The website also highlights BVI’s compliance to international standards; as recognised by the governments of several G8 and G20 countries, and by international organisations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), FATF, Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the OECD.

Lastly, BVIfacts.info speaks to the progressive discussions on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the BVI’s commitment to concluding FATCA negotiations with the US Treasury and entering into a similar arrangement with the UK

The BVI International Finance Centre promotes the Territory as a preeminent financial services jurisdiction, while protecting the BVI industry’s reputation worldwide.