The BVI: Asia’s International Finance Centre of Choice

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“The BVI is the undisputed leader relative to its offshore peers,” said the head of one of the world’s largest company formation specialists at the recently held China Offshore Summit in Shanghai 31st to 2nd November.

During his presentation – BVI: Leading from the Front for Global Strategies – Jonathon Clifton, Group Managing Director, Company Formation at Vistra Group said the top drivers for using BVI companies in China were asset protection, investment holdings for corporates, and wealth management. 

Clifton also stated that for Chinese investors the BVI was the most preferred jurisdiction for their cross-border needs. For example, he noted, Chinese investors were very comfortable using BVI companies to make high-end purchases in London and Europe.

Pointing to data in recent reports, Vistra 2020 – The Uncertainty Principle and Capital Economics’ Creating Value – the BVI’s Global Contribution, he also said that the BVI has played a fundamental role in investments coming into and out of China.  The Capital Economics report also showed that China (including Hong Kong and Macau) is the single largest market for BVI entities.

Clifton used the same report to show that the BVI is a key facilitator of globalisationand is the ninth largest source of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) and the seventh largest for outward FDI globally.

He also noted that the BVI is showing strong growth when compared to other offshore jurisdictions. According toVistra’s volume incorporations for 2016, the BVI figures had increased by six percent, the largest growth for all the offshore jurisdictions.

Clifton also pointed to several advantages which resulted in the BVI being consistently ranked the number one offshore jurisdiction in Vistra’s reports for the last eight years. With a strong network of offshore law firms and other service providers in Asia, he said the BVI had brought offshore capabilities to Asia and had the ability to move up the sophistication curve from investment holdings to funds, mergers and acquisitions, trusts, financing, special purpose and listing vehicles.

In addition, he said that while the BVI had been an early adopter of international regulatory standards, it was still striking the right balance between privacy and transparency.

He concluded by predicting that “the BVI will continue to be an absolute star in the offshore world.”

BVI solutions were also provided in other presentations throughout the Shanghai summit.  Wei Ching Teo of Harney Westwood & Riegels discussed using the BVI’s trust structures, VISTA and PTCs, as solutions for wealthy families, while Kristy Kalvert also of Harneys outlined the BVI options for Structuring Belt and Road Investments, China’s global initiative for leading infrastructural developments in more than 65 countries.

Director of BVI House Asia Elise Donovan, a panelist on the session Keeping Pace with the Trend of Increased Transparency, spoke about the BVI’s robust due diligence and know-your-customer procedures, noting that the BVI was fully compliant with international regulatory standards of transparency. She too added that the BVI had reached the right balance with transparency and privacy that Chinese clients’ value.

The annual three-day China Offshore Shanghai Summit, which examined trends in China and the offshore financial services industry, was attended by more than 600 senior Chinese business leaders.

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