BVI Celebrates 30th Anniversary as a Financial Services Centre

On 15th August, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) celebrated its 30th Anniversary as a Financial Services Centre. The jurisdiction’s establishment is considered to have begun on 15 August 1984, marked by the Government’s passage of the International Business Companies (IBC) Act in the Legislative Council, led by then Chief Minister Cyril B. Romney. The passage of the IBC Act came just two years after the United States (US) Government canceled its double-taxation treaty with the BVI in 1982.

The coming into force of the IBC Act was rapidly followed by the development and take-off of the financial services industry, boosted by political developments in Panama and Hong Kong, which saw the BVI rise to become the premier offshore jurisdiction for company incorporations. Between 1989 and 1997, company incorporations grew at a rate of nearly 50%. In 1999, KPMG estimated that the BVI accounted for 41% of the global market share for offshore vehicles. The IBC Acts has since been superseded by the BVI Business Companies Act.

As of 31st March 2014, 482,087 active companies were listed on the BVI register. The financial services industry is the second largest contributor to the territory’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounts for more than 60% of government revenue. In March 2014, the Global Financial Centre’s Index 15 ranked the BVI 44th out of 83 international Financial Centres.

Speaking on the progress made by the BVI in Financial Services, Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. Hon. D. Orlando Smith OBE, said “This rating is testament to the comprehensive legislative and world class regime for financial services business that exists in the BVI today. It is no coincidence that this comes as we recognise the 30th anniversary of the piece of legislation – the BVI International Business Companies Act – that has set the standard that other Centre’s have tried to emulate over the last 30 years.”