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BVI Hits Back At UK Media Reports

by Mike Godfrey, Lowtax.net, Washington
16 May, 2014

The Permanent Secretary in the British Virgin Islands' Premier's Office, Brodrick Penn, has addressed the Guardian newspaper in response to two articles that he says "unfairly and inaccurately presented the BVI as being complicit in supporting tax evasion and fraud."

Penn's "letter to the editor" is in respect of two articles referencing the British Virgin Islands in the context of Indonesian businesses implicated in corporate tax evasion and possible corruption, he said.

Penn states: "The BVI Government does not tolerate tax evasion, money laundering, or any type of financial crime. Regulation in the BVI is equal to, if not better than many large countries – a fact backed up in assessments by supranational organizations as well as by independent research."

"The BVI is one of a few jurisdictions that has a long history and proven record of regulation trust and company service providers. This system, together with other regulatory laws, as well as our rules and practices on anti-money laundering and information exchange solidifies BVI's reputation as a jurisdiction for the conduct of legitimate international financial services business."

He continued: "The articles gave a biased and skewed view of the BVI which does not accurately reflect our country's stable political and economic infrastructure, high levels of employment, per capita income, and general standards of living."

The BVI's approach to tax transparency and its role in the global economy was credited by the United Kingdom Member of Parliament and Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mark Simmonds, during a recent trip to BVI House Asia in Hong Kong on May 2, 2014.

Simmonds received a presentation from personnel at the BVI's representative office, which he said was "extremely helpful and informative." Simmonds went on to pledge the UK Government's support for the BVI and its financial services industry, adding that the UK Government recognized that the financial services industry was a "fundamental pillar for the future of the BVI."

Commenting on the meeting, Elise Donovan, Director of the BVI House Asia, said: "I was greatly encouraged by Minister Simmonds' continued support for the BVI and particularly for the future of our financial services industry."

The presentation outlined the advantages of doing business through the BVI, such as the flexibility of its corporate structures, its robust legal system, strong BVI legal expertise and other professional services available in the Asian time zone. It also alluded to the BVI's dedicated and efficient Commercial Court, in addition to its trust infrastructure. The practitioners also talked about the type of high-end transactions involving BVI Business Companies, including private wealth trusts, equity, debt, insolvency and dispute resolution, funds, IPOs, corporate, assets, resources, asset back securities, real estate, shipping, and aircraft.

One of the core messages conveyed to the UK delegation was that, contrary to public perception, tax is not a primary driver for using BVI corporate structures. Greater demand for the use of BVI companies has come from those seeking asset protection, wealth management, funds management, investment holdings and trading. The group emphasized that according to market research, the use of offshore structures for tax planning is actually in decline while other uses are increasing.


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