Remarks By Premier And Minister Of Finance Dr. The Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE During One-on-one Press Briefing, 30th May, 2018
Upcoming BVI Asia Road Mission & Public Registers
Good afternoon members of the media.
As you know, this forum provides an opportunity for me to update on matter of the Government. And, especially this afternoon, I’d like to inform you of my upcoming travel to Asia.
On Monday 2nd to 17th June, I will lead a delegation to five cities in Asia, the BVI’s largest market, to continue to promote our many business and financial services offerings traditional and new (traditional include - investment business, incorporations, fiduciary services, commercial court) and meet key government and industry stakeholders in the region.
Besides our traditional offerings, the BVI will promote recent developments in the international commercial arena and the benefits they bring to the sector, including the Limited Partnership Act and the Micro Business Companies Act, a new and exciting facility that combines technology with law and which we expect to have wide appeal.
We will begin the mission in Hong Kong where we will meet the Chief Executive – the Head of the Hong Kong Government, the Financial Secretary and the British Consul General.
In Hong Kong, we will also host an industry roundtable with senior industry stakeholders followed by a road show presenting the BVI ‘advantage’ to over 100 business persons.
At that event presentations will be made by not only our own practitioners but by about a dozen of their Hong Kong based colleagues who will then continue on the journey to the other cities with us.
The highlight of the Hong Kong visit will be the launch of Bank of Asia, the first new bank to be licensed in the BVI in 25 years.
We look forward to working with our new partners to meet banking requirements and in particular to address the banking challenges that many in the industry have experienced in recent years.
My delegation and I then travel to Singapore meeting senior Government Officials as well as hosting a round table which among other things will discuss the latest developments in FinTech and its potential role as an opportunity for the BVI’s business and financial services industry.
Over the weekend, we will travel to Beijing. China has been our largest trading partner for twenty-five years: we look forward to meeting officials to discuss the latest developments in our industry and how these might be mutually beneficial to China and the BVI.
As well as officials, we will be meeting a number of influential associations that represent the business sector in China. This will include the China Association of Small and Medium Commercial Enterprises who we met two years ago and with whom we will be discussing their recent proposal for a commercial relationship with the BVI.
We will also meet the General Association of Zhejiang Entrepreneurs (GAZE), chaired by Mr. Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba – one of the biggest and most influential businesses in China. Roadshows will also be held in Hangzhou and Shanghai.
Honourable Ronnie Skelton will accompany the Minister to China together with three BVI Finance members, the Interim CEO and Head of Business Development and Marketing.
We will be supported by the team of BVI House Asia.
I very much look forward to this trip and look forward to sharing its outcome upon my return.
Lastly, as you know, the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill has received Royal Assent in the United Kingdom. This means that there is an expectation for Overseas Territories to make public the beneficial ownership of all companies registered in the Virgin Islands no later than December 31, 2020.
The BVI Government has appointed Withers Worldwide and retained Professor Dan Sarooshi QC of Essex Court Chambers and the University of Oxford as Leading Counsel as well as eminent Virgin Islands constitutional lawyer, Mr Gerard Farara QC, to advise the Government on a potential legal challenge to the imposition of a public register of beneficial ownership.
They are confident that the imposition of a public register would raise serious constitutional and human rights issues and would be subject to constitutional challenge.
As we have consistently stated, our position is that we will not introduce public registers unless and until they become a global standard. Thank you.