23rd Oxford Offshore Symposium: Notes from a parallel universe

Over 5 days in early September this year, participants in the 23rd Oxford Offshore Symposium enjoyed presentations on topics such as “hybrid entities” and “how international financial centres can continue redefining and re-engineering themselves” followed by dinners of “fillet of beef wellington and fruits of the forest brulee”.

Among the participants was the director of the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission. The programme included sessions with titles such as “The legitimacy of tax planning” which asked:

“As governments continue to blur the distinction between tax avoidance and tax evasion, and even between tax planning and money laundering, is the perceived right of every citizen legitimately to minimise the amount of tax he or she pays being eroded?  Is there any clear guidance on what is acceptable tax planning in today’s global environment?”

A full review of the event is available on the Offshore Investment site here, below are a few highlights:

– “The first speaker of the day, Kristin Konschnik, Partner and Head of Withers Voluntary Disclosure Practice in London broached the subject of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.  She explained its complex provisions and developments in relation to Intergovernmental Agreements with ease.  A panel discussion followed and Kristin was joined by Richard Cassell, Andrew De La Rosa and Dr. Terry Dwyer to contemplate: extra-territorial regulation and globalisation – what does it all mean?”

– “After morning coffee, Robert Mathavious, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission offered his observations, from his vantage point in the world’s leading company formation jurisdiction, on the demands of the international standard setters and how international financial centres can continue redefining and re-engineering themselves and their financial services product offerings to show that they are compliant with these continually evolving standards.”

– “Chairman Nicholas Jacob, a specialist in family governance and tax and estate planning for wealthy families delivered a very impactful presentation on the precision balancing act of tax planning and the increasingly blurred lines between tax avoidance and tax evasion.”

– “The final lecture of the day was delivered by Richard Hay who tackled the very topical subject of tax information exchange and proffered his views on riding the transparency tidal wave.”

– “Guests made their way, for the last time, to the Mansell Room for the Closing Dinner.  After almost a week in the College, the Group had bonded greatly and enjoyed an intimate feast of roasted figs, gorgonzola and peashoots followed by fillet of beef wellington and fruits of the forest brulee served with the finest red and white wines and soft drinks.”

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