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British Virgin Islands - More on Offshore Jursidiction

 

British Virgin Islands (BVI)

Capital: Road Town
Population: 22,000 (est. 2003)
Languages: English (official)
Area: 153 sq. km (land area)
Currency: United States dollar (USD)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March
Independence status: overseas territory of the UK
 

BACKGROUND
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS ("BVI") is a group of islands & islets located in Caribbean.The BVI have the basic offshore financial centre attributes: stable, capitalistic government, good communications, an educated population, no exchange controls, and a tax and regulatory climate that encourages offshore activity. The country is a British Dependent Territory, with locally elected members and a Governor appointed by the British Crown. The economy, one of the most stable and prosperous in the Caribbean, is highly dependent on tourism, Livestock raising is the most important agricultural activity; poor soils limit the islands' ability to meet domestic food requirements.A stable and established political structure is essential to the continued success of any offshore financial centre.

Legal System
The BVI is a British Crown Colony with its corporate law based on the English common law. The Islands are self-governing, with a Governor who charis the Executive Council. There is also a Legislative Councial and a judicial system that is under the direction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court with final appeal to the Privy Council in London, England.

Currency
There are no exhange controls in the BVI and corporations may transfer fund with complete freedom. The main currency is the US dollar and many international banks operate branches in the BVI.

Confidentiality
Unlike the majority of offshore centres, the British Virgin Islands offer the discretion of not having to disclose the beneficial ownership of companies to any authority or person in the British Virgin Islands. Furthermore, as seen earlier, British Virgin Islands IBC's have the power to issue bearer shares.

Taxation
International Business Ordinance was introduced in 1984. This provides for the incorporation of companies exempt from BVI taxes. The success of the financial sector in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is due almost exclusively to its role as the world's leading jurisdiction for international business companies (IBCs).Double Taxation Agreements between the United Kingdom and Japan and Switzerland extend to the British Virgin Islands but do not generally apply to IBC's.Hong

Legislations
The BVI Government has announced that the International Business Companies Act requires all bearer shares to be held in the custody of either an “authorised” or “recognised” custodian and for bearer shares to be immobilized. It also provides for companies to amend their memoranda of articles of association, which currently give an IBC the power to issue bearer shares. The laws affecting the operations of the company includes following Acts:-
  • Anti-Money Laundering Code of Practice
  • Banks and Trust Companies Act
  • Insurance Act and Regulations
  • International Business Companies Act and Amendment Act
  • Mutual Funds Act
  • Trustee Amendment Act
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