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Financial services workers mull relocating to Crown Dependent countries

Lorna Smith. (GIS photo)

Stakeholders in the local financial services sector are said to be considering Crown Dependent countries such as the  Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey to relocate their businesses.

That’s according to Executive Director of BVI Finance, Lorna Smith.

Smith made the disclosure during a public forum at the Ritter Building last week.

“The impact of that decision (the United Kingdom’s public registers policy) … people are already saying: ‘Why don’t I move my business to a Crown Dependency – to the Isle of Man or to Jersey instead of the British Virgin Islands? Why don’t I move it now rather than waiting for 2020?” she said.

“So that’s a serious consideration and one which you really wonder whether the United Kingdom parliament thought of those kinds of consequences as a result of this decision.”

The public registers policy is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill that forces the BVI and other Overseas Territories (OT’s) to publicise the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in their respective countries.

The OT’s are required to comply by December 2020.

However, it is feared the policy will drive business from these Overseas Territories towards other less regulated competing jurisdictions.

Notably, Britain’s Crown Dependencies are not required to implement the controversial public registers.

Crown Dependencies are fierce competitors

According to the 2018 Financial Secrecy Index, which ranks countries based to secrecy and the magnitude of nefarious offshore financial activities, Crown Dependencies are said to be ‘fierce financial services competitors’ to jurisdictions such as the BVI.

While addressing members of the press last Thursday, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said he is not overly concerned about the looming 2020 deadline the BVI has to implement the public registers.

The BVI government continues to maintain that unless the public registers become a global standard, the BVI will not implement them.

Copyright 2018 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

56 Comments

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  1. Plan says:

    The UK plan was always to take our business away for themselves. What we have is too good for us where they’re concerned. So, they succeeded

    • Onething says:

      The crown dependancies are’nt even part of the u.k. All the uk does is represent them at the UN and defend them. They are almost their own countries

      • HRMPH says:

        The Crown Dependencies go out of their way to make expats (including BVIslanders) who go there feel welcome, there is no handing out contracts to locals just because they are local, there is no or virtually no corruption, immigration and labour officials are helpful and pleasant, there is no black on white or white on black racism, the roads are good, the electricity and water work 24/7, tax is only 4% higher than payroll tax, and the Government is reasonably efficient with competent civil servants appointed and dismissed on merit only … but the weather in the winter is rainy and foggy (and so is the summer in the IoM). Civil servants believe that their job is to actively encourage foreign investment, not to put up barrier after barrier to make it difficult to do business. They are actively encouraging our financial services businesses to relocate from the BVI. It is hardly surprising that they are going.

        • @HRMPH says:

          I beg your pardon! The CD’s are a lot more productive during the rain and fog. Many don’t even turn up for work when it rains in BVI. The weather in Jersey and IoM has been far superior to Road Town since the beginning of May and with the Hurricane season arriving, they (CD’s) won’t have any angry ladies to deal with…..no brainer!

    • hmmm says:

      incorrect, the UK is looking to help achieve great things for the companies who are on an unsteady platform in the BVI.

    • Rubber Duck says:

      The crown dependencies are not the UK. Learn the facts before you spout.

  2. UK is not the enemy says:

    They contemplate leaving because of BVI relentless talks of independence.

    • Maria Louisa Varlack says:

      That is the truth. The British Virgin Islanders are ignorant. They should have remained a British Crown Dependency Territory instead. Because of the BVI relentless talk of independence, which would make it worse for British Virgin Islanders, that is the reason why the UK plan to impose public registry policy, and UK Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. You cannot blame the UK government. What if a hurricane or an earthquake or a tsunami destroy the territory of the British Virgin Islands only the UK government would send the Royal Navy vessel to your shores with food and clothing and help the British Virgin Islanders rebuild shelter so that they would have a place to live. In time of famine, pestilence, war, terrorism, only the Royal Navy would come to the shores of the British Virgin Islanders to protect British Virgin Islanders, so therefore, British Virgin Islanders should have remain a British Crown Dependency Territory instead. What make British Virgin Islanders think that tourism industry and BVI Financial Services is enough to sustain a tiny territory. Stupid British Virgin Islanders both of these industries are unstable. Stupid British Virgin Islanders you are building your house on sand and you are putting all of your eggs in one basket, which proves to me that British Virgin Islanders are not wise people. Come down off of your high horses and humble yourselves and you would get much further ahead in life. Stop insulting the UK Government. Do not bite off the hands that feed you. Do not cut off your nose to spoil your face.

      • WTF? says:

        Varlack are you serious? Talk of independence is why we have a public register being imposed? So why is it being imposed on Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Anguilla etc.? Some other reason? I’m so done…Wow.

      • Panta06 says:

        Wow. I have never ready such an insulting comment toward an entire country (other than those coming out of Washington, DC). Ms. Varlack…the simple facts is this…the UK committed to a financial transparency pack for 2025. Then, they (the UK) decided to impose tougher regulations on their OTs for 2020 beyond what they are imposing on themselves and their Crown Dependent territories. Those are the facts. The debate then focuses on why. Before you go around calling the entire country ignorant and stupid, I would ask that you explain why the rules were expedited for the OTs and not the rest of the UK and dependents?

      • Theo says:

        BVI people have a “them not me” attitude”. Everything bad only happen to other people not them. Until bad things happen, then everything only happen to them.

        BVI people acting stupid because at the end of the day, the same people they choose to follow who choose to lead them astray for their own selfish benefit and security aren’t going to be affected by an earthquake, tsunami or collapse of the BVI economy.

        If the people of the BVI started getting real they will see they have nobody to blame but themselves and that would be the first step to being honest about what has been and is going on.

        Take this last set of storms as a blessing a last chance to turn things around. People still have chances, make decisions that will secure the long term future even if it will be harder now.

      • Kinte says:

        Mrs varlack I whole heartily agree with everything you said. To me does pitching a fit are the ones who have benefitted from the larceny in the B.V.I of havring those companies here.

        If it was so beneficial to the B.V.I. we would not have needed money from the crown or anyone else to help in the hurricanes aftermath. But there was no money because of the siphoning off of funds.

        Only a fool thinks the BV.I. can survive on its own. Cutting off the nose tp spite the face idiotocracy

      • Nonsense says:

        Stop spewing utter rubbish. You speak with so much hatred when talking about BVIslanders. Clearly you have a very personal vendetta. You need to take your head out of the sand and assess the reality of the situation. The registers are being imposed on all OT’s not just BVI. Please crawl back under your rock and let the BVI be great!!

  3. Kenneth Dreger says:

    Or, how about countries refuse to do business or recognize any company in a country that doesn’t publish who owns it or invests in it! Then that levels the field for everyone. Now all you have to deal with is the hoops we have to go through to form a offshore company…..if you can keep the taxes down it still makes sense to most…

  4. Sam the man says:

    Catch up Lorna – the exodus started after Irma and will simply accelerate

  5. Legalize it says:

    Legalize the marijuana and or economic rebound would be 10 times that of all economic pillars combined if put in place before june 2019 and full opening of all dispensary and many other forms of marijuana uses in business and also all schools would be sponsored by each dispensary in partnership with Education to have the finances disperse to the schools as they know the need of supplies and educational materials as we all know by 2020 the marijuana market would reach 10billion in profit education would recive 20% and hospital 20% along with 10% toward tourism this would be annual donations of profit towards the country………. its the best back up to the U.K. decisions to alter our impressive financial services which is well regulated

  6. Stop says:

    Lorna please stop talking and it is time to take a backseat. You need to know when to stop talking. Your ——– reaction has been doing more —– than —-‘. Time to retire. Its time for new wine skin. Watch God!

  7. /////// says:

    And the difficulty here especially since the hurricanes. Even Tortolaians have left. A lot more could be done to improve things but doesn’t seem to be a priority.

  8. Not2Sure says:

    If you move your employees to Jersey / Guernsey / IoM as an employer you can save a lot of money: no $10,000 work permit fee, no 8% payroll tax, no 3.75% social security, no 3.75% NHI.

    Government is just reaping what it has sowed. For years it has tried to punish employers for employing people in the BVI. We have steadily created massive incentives to move jobs out of the BVI. Now the BVI economy is starting to suffer the effects of those policies.

  9. Online Now says:

    Are they really, or are you just scare mongering? I guess some may be considering relocating but that would have as much to do with the hurricane, lack of infrastructure and treatment of expats as much as the ruling. After all, the existing managed entities will not be leaving – yes some (maybe a lot) will close but the business of providing corporate and legal services to those will continue.

    • @Online Now says:

      I agree with you 100%!!! I think a lot of decisions are made based on how businesses are treated when they try to set up here and they are no longer putting up with the BS. Let’s see if we will wake up or continue to play dead on these important issues. The public register isn’t the reason people are contemplating leaving.

  10. 2 Grand says:

    It is written and said Without vision the people perish
    We took our good and blessed fortune for granted. Wasted and played with it. There’s a saying save for a rainy day and that day or days are here. Who to blame ?

  11. Onething says:

    The problem is that the bvi people think that if they go it alone that everything will stay intact as it has been. Watch getting black listed on the FS. What the OTs need to do is negotiate for representation someone from each territory to represent on be behalf send them in to parliment.

  12. Maria Louisa Varlack says:

    What is the difference between a British Dependent Territory and a British Overseas Territory and a Crown Dependent Colony? I always thought that once you have a British/UK passport that you were automatically a UK citizen? I always thought that British Virgin Islanders were UK citizen. I always thought that the British Virgin Islands was part of the United Kingdom and a UK territory.

    • Onething says:

      No a crown dependancy is not part of the u.k they are not even in the E.U they are the remnants of the parts of france that the u.k owned centuries ago they are owned by the crown it’s self not like us. They even have their own british passport but they cant live in Europe like us and u.k citizens unless they move to uk or get a uk passport

    • Rubber Duck says:

      If it was part of the U.K., Brits could come and live and invest here. And the country would be better off. But they can’t.

      • Bad idea says:

        The problem is that the islands are too small and the infrastructure cant handle it thats why we have a belonger status in place and own seperate passports. Thats why our immigration is so strict. They would come in droves. The dutch antillies dont get it because they have the same immigration system just that they dont have a seperate passport and dutch citizens get 6 months stay. America has good weather they arent going to flood the usvi or puerto rico.

        • Rubber Duck says:

          They would not flood here. You would have to attract them. Limit the annual numbers if you like . But ask yourself who is going to buy the houses where they have taken the insurance and run?
          And the businesses.

          • Answer says:

            People who can afford to buy real estate and live on a small exclusive tropical retreat. The world has plenty of them and they are hovering the BVI like bees to honey. Golden opportunity for the moneyed.

    • To Maria Louisa Varlack says:

      You speak from ignorance and sentence an entire country to death then come here asking questions to basic factually information that’s readily available?

      Find out the answers to the questions you seek. Speak the truth and not personal biases. It’s only in recent years, since the White Paper was introduced that BVIslanders could hold a UK passport. It was unheard of and not allowed by Britain for rolling years.

      The UK never showed an interest in us. They did the bare minimum after Irma for their own names sake and mostly after, they were criticised by the international community and media for not responding. Now they trying to cripple our finances in a power move since they nèed an excuse to pay for Brexit. Shame on you!

      • Online Now says:

        Bare minimum – I would love to have seen this place if the UK didn’t do the “bare minimum”. Why not just say “thanks”.

  13. A Friend says:

    Why not look to the future instead of the past. There are huge opportunities in FinTech where the BVI could have an impact. Just registered a HK entity, online, $2K, 3 days. Considered the BVI but too much bureaucratic overhead.

    • Small minds traditional habits says:

      My display name says it all. The bvi is behind every single caribbean island except for monseratt, anguilla and dominica. No airlift and no innovation. Independance? Watch the bvi turn into third world country where your last names determine where you make it in life plus we shut out from the u.s, usvi, st.maartin etc visas in your…

  14. Political Observer (PO) says:

    It is no surprise that companies will bounce from the BVI after the House of Commons and House of Lords approved and the Crown assented to the amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill requiring that Caribbean OTs established registers of beneficial ownership of financial assets incorporated in these OTs. The courts finding this Act unconstitutional is a last ditch effort to reverse the Act. It is a steep climb to get the courts to rule against the UK government.

    Moreover, the main selling point for companies registering in the BVI and other OTs is the secrecy and privacy. Once the selling point is gone, the companies will bounce and move on to other jurisdictions, ie, Jersey, Isle of Man, Guernsey……etc. The BVI, along with OTs, should band together and continue to agitate for reversal of the Act. On the other hand, it should anticipate the Act taking root/ taking hold and should make the necessary structural adjustments. Food for thought: What is the difference between Jersey, Isle of Man and Guernsey, crown dependencies, and the VI, OT of the UK?

    The House of Commons and House of Lords action highlighted a BVI economic weakness. Its economy is built on two highly fragile economic pillars, tourism and financial services. Its economy is undiversified. It is highly vulnerable to external economic shocks. Consequently, the VI must chart a new economic course. Charting the new course will be challenging and painful but it (BVI) must persevere through it.

    • Onething says:

      The crown dependancies are owned by the crown itself not part of u.k. Ots are territories in the same position like the usvi. CDs have their own british passport but its not an eu passport though they xan live in the u.k and can get u.k passports

    • Reader says:

      @ Political Observer…Good food for thought.

  15. Sam says:

    The colonialists Agenda 101

  16. Rubber Duck says:

    Maybe in the crown dependencies they will be treated like valued wealth bringers and not like third class unwanted refugees.

    As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

  17. Yup says:

    People are leaving due to the lack of rebuild, which on top of the already ignorant Bvi islanders is the straw which broke the camels back. Ignorance, cost and overall difficulty to do business is driving the businesses to make the best decision on location.

  18. Doesnt help says:

    That the registry fees go up huge %, we are not helping ourselves. $8,000 to file director information because you missed a deadline has done more damage to our relation with very long standing clients than this proposed bill

  19. ACT NOW says:

    This is happening NOW. this has been coming for ages.
    There is a huge disincentive to employ people here. The trade licence, work permits, FSC licensing and corporate registry are unacceptably slow but moreover obstructive.
    Overlay that on the unacceptable infrastructure, disgusting attitudes to customer service and to non-nationals and difficult and expensive to get here or from here.

    All of this can change with a few strokes of the pen but nobody has the courage to sort it out.

    All of this has held back our youth from a proper education and an array of opportunities.

    IT IS TIME TO ACT. not in a few months time, right now. Soon those who have had to relocate will return after the summer vacation and find what our visitors have found. No progress, obstructiveness. Terrible properties and expensive. Infrastructure that makes it difficult to work and be competitive with the other territories and countries in our markets. Not all will stay after Christmas or June next year.

    Bye bye then I hear some say? Sorry when they go, their client relationships all follow…

    This is urgent.

  20. CW says:

    The whole world is trending towards transparency. Use this as an opportunity to lead or b*tch but it will happen all the same. Typical BVI “them, not me” is right as stated above. Get over yourselves and stand up and take charge of the financial services transparency OPPORTUNITY. or get left behind. This attitude is why BVI has had a slow recovery and the rest of the Caribbean has not. SMH

  21. Wow says:

    Does the financial services industry belong to that lady? One states her business. I thought it was government and she a retired civil servant. Is that not conflict of interest given top position by her husband the premier? Let the people know the truth. What help will financial industry be to government or people of this territory in one of UK dependencies? What will happen to our workers here.? That will be worse than public registry the people marched on. Who cares about who?

  22. Dog man says:

    Y she can tell us where 7.2 m gone. How a ship dock cost that price r the hotel at home? Tell us ! UK tell what they going to what a we going to [email protected]! Tell about that. NDp fail us by putt u there n we fail r country by letting ndp do what there a doing.

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