As reported by the BVI Beacon, the most recent company incorporation statistics from the British Virgin Islands show 11.471 companies were incorporated in the second quarter of 2014, taking the total for the first half of 2014 to over 25 thousand.
The British Virgin Islands has now published company incorporation data up to the last quarter of 2013.
11.376 companies were registered in BVI over the last three months of 2013, making a total of 53.321 new registrations during the year. This takes the total stock to 459.882 companies incorporated in BVI, or approximately 20 companies per capita.
However, BVI incorporations are on a downward trend: a 23% fall in the last quarter compared to the same period of 2012, and a 17% fall for the whole of 2013. In the chart below the columns show the incorporations per quarter, and the red line the % change compared to the same period of the year before.
BVI company incorporations 2012-13
Source: based on data from BVI Financial Services Commission
The year 2013 started with a 7% fall in company incorporations in the first quarter, and following Offshore Leaks in April the decline accelerates. It will be interesting to see what effect China Leaks has during 2014.
El Comercio (Peru) reports that
“The company Axbridge Gold, registered in a UK tax haven in the Caribbean, is one of 60 gold exporters rated as high risk due to their links with illegal mining in the regions of Madre de Dios, Cusco and Puno, as well as for buying tons of metal of illicit origin, using nominee directors, engaging in suspicious financial activities and being investigated for money laundering”.
Following the customs authorities confiscating almost a ton of gold in the last two months, El Comercio’s article is based on investigations by the Anti-Money Laundering prosecutor and Financial Intelligence Unit. The three top companies on the list of investigated companies are linked to the British Virgin Islands registered Axbridge.
When El Comercio visited the legal address of one of the companies – the fourth largest gold exporter in Peru – it found a family apartment located above a traditional “ceviche” restaurant.
The remaining 60 companies (half of the gold exporters in the country) under investigation for illegal mining and money laundering include companies suspected of tax evasion and others with links to suspected drug smugglers.
The BVI Beacon reports:
“A United Kingdom court has ruled against a man who allegedly promoted a massive “scheme” wherein UK bondholders transferred earnings to VI-registered companies to avoid paying tax. The UK’s Court of Appeal recently ruled against Matthew Jenner, who operates the UK-based firm NT Advisors. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which sued Mr. Jenner to stop the strategy, claims that the ruling will save taxpayers more than $163 million, according to the UK publication Professional Adviser.”
The International Adviser website adds:
“HMRC said the “complex” scheme…involved transferring millions of pounds of UK government bonds, known as gilts, backwards and forwards to the British Virgin Islands to manufacture an unwarranted tax deduction of £1.2m. The Court of Appeal said the scheme was specifically designed to avoid tax.”
There seems to have been no reaction or coverage yet in the British Virgin Islands media of yesterday’s revelations by the ICIJ that key members of China’s elite control offshore companies in BVI.
However, the ICIJ reports do cast a new light on some parts of Premier Orlando Smith’s 2014 budget speech from last week:
– “As well, Madam Speaker there is no better manifestation of our forward leaning vision for economic growth, than last week’s very successful visit to the Territory of a high level delegation from Shenzhen. Shenzhen is one of the wealthiest cities in China. That visit Madam Speaker, was a direct result of opening the office in Hong Kong. After more than thirty years of providing financial services to China, during the visit we moved to the next level by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen our relationship with Shenzhen.”
– “Madam Speaker, we have established a visible presence in the Asia/Pacific region, by opening the Hong Kong Office, further extending our footprint and positioning ourselves to better serve our customers and establish new relationships in this region. At least 40% of our financial services business comes from Asia and we are hoping to see this increase as a result of our presence there.”
– “Madam Speaker a significant part of the success of the BVI and the Government’s ability to provide the services it does today rests with the success of our financial services industry. This industry has faced challenges in the past year, and though I remain optimistic, it is clear that in this sector we have some hurdles to overcome if we intend to remain competitive. We will not, however, compromise on our reputation of a well regulated jurisdiction.”
With the theme “Taking our game to the next level”, speakers include the premiers of BVI and Bermuda, the chief minister of Gibraltar and representatives of KPMG and PWC, as well as a PR specialist who works in “media choreography”.
A look at the conference program shows that there will be sessions on financial services, tourism, public-private partnerships, education and training, and “smart government”.
Another website has detail on the topics to be covered in the financial services session:
- Global Wealth Management – New opportunity?
- Doubling Down on Asia
- Emerging Markets
- Cybersecurity – Lessons from the DATA DUMP (almost certainly a reference to Offshore Leaks)
- Global Regulatory Changes – Keeping Up
Richard Branson was a keynote speaker at a former Business Outlook conference.
Incorporations in the British Virgin Islands continue their decline, according to the most recent data from the BVI Financial Services Commission.
While company registrations are recovering and already above 2008 levels in other offshore jurisdictions, the 21% fall year-on-year in the third quarter of 2013 means the BVI maintains a downward trend.
Quarterly BVI incorporations, year-on-year % changes
Source: based on data from the BVI Financial Services Commission
It seems the fallout from Offshore Leaks continues. Despite the declining numbers, however, BVI still registered over 40.000 companies in the first three quarters of 2013 and “continues to dominate offshore new company registration activity by volume” as noted by a recent offshore service provider report.