Friday October 30, 2009

His Excellency Governor David Pearey and Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Ralph O’Neal, OBE have welcomed the publication of the Final Report of the Independent Review of British offshore financial centres by Mr. Michael Foot.

Reacting to the report today, Governor Pearey said, “The requirement now is for the BVI, as with the other Territories, to examine the report carefully and push ahead in areas identified where work remains to be done. “

He cautioned that there should be no complacency.

“In general the BVI emerges well from the report and its response in the areas of tax information exchange and terrorist financing are recognized.

But complacency at all costs needs to be avoided.

Where further improvement is needed I am sure the Territory will demonstrate its usual commitment to getting the job done,” Governor Pearey stated.

Commenting on the report Honourable O’Neal stated, “The Government of the Virgin Islands commends Mr. Foot for his detailed and comprehensive review.

The report has a number of recommendations for action which the BVI Government will now examine in detail.”

He added, “We appreciate Mr. Foot’s recognition that the BVI continues to be a well-regulated jurisdiction and the fact he was encouraged by the Know-Your-Customer standards and beneficial ownership rules that exist in the BVI.

In particular, the report demonstrates that the BVI’s standards compare favourably to all the Crown Dependencies and United Kingdom Overseas Territories which were included in this review.”

The Premier underscored Mr. Foot’s recommendations on transparency and the standards outlined by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes the signing of at least 12 Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs).

“We note that Mr. Foot in his recommendations highlights the significance of OECD standards of transparency and exchange of information.

The Territory is proud of the fact that we have already concluded 15 TIEAs and have therefore surpassed the OECD’s 12 TIEA standard. Indeed, we already have TIEAs with economically significant partners, another core recommendation of Mr. Foot.”

The Premier further stated, “Government agrees with Mr. Foot that simply signing TIEAs is not enough and compliance with the OECD Peer Review Group process is essential. As I have also said previously, implementation of TIEAs is crucial.”

Mr. Michael Foot was asked to conduct the review by Her Majesty’s Treasury in November 2008 to examine the UK’s nine Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies with finance centres.

Mr. Foot visited the BVI as part of the review in February 2009.

Government is very much aware of the benefits of the financial services industry and its contribution to the direct and indirect revenue of the Territory.

As has been done for years, Government will continue to do everything humanly possible to protect and preserve the industry.