Harney Westwood & Riegels updates

Launching an ICO in British Virgin Islands
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • December 14 2017

Interest in the setting up and distribution of initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore locations has increased rapidly during 2017, and this is expected to continue. No ICO or blockchain-specific rules or guidelines have yet been issued by the government or regulator; however, there are several important issues for parties in the British Virgin Islands to consider, including the key laws and regulations surrounding the issue.

New Anti-money Laundering Regulations come into force
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • Cayman Islands
  • November 16 2017

The government recently adopted updated Anti-money Laundering Regulations. The regulations demonstrate the Cayman Islands' ongoing commitment to comply with the highest international standards on combating money laundering and terrorist financing and aim to ensure consistency with the Financial Action Task Force 2012 recommendations. The move is part of an overall update of the territory's anti-money laundering regime.

Structuring an ICO through the Cayman Islands
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • Cayman Islands
  • November 02 2017

It seems that 2017 will be remembered as the year of the initial coin offering (ICO). The Cayman Islands is witnessing an upsurge in ICO-related business and structuring an ICO through the territory remains an attractive proposition. However, ICO-specific guidance is yet to be issued by the government or the regulator, and a number of legal uncertainties remain. Existing statutory and regulatory regimes must therefore be considered when structuring an ICO.

BVI continuations and discontinuations – an overview
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • October 26 2017

The ability to continue a foreign company as a BVI company or to continue a BVI company as a company under the laws of another jurisdiction quickly and seamlessly is just one example of the many flexible features of the Business Companies Act 2004. This is particularly useful in the context of corporate reorganisations, and counsel should be aware of the process and requirements for continuations and discontinuations.

Beneficial ownership regime – an overview
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • Cayman Islands
  • October 19 2017

Under the Cayman Islands beneficial ownership legislation, certain Cayman companies are required to maintain details of their beneficial owners and relevant legal entities on a beneficial ownership register. Companies should determine whether they are within the scope of the legislation and familiarise themselves with the obligations for in-scope companies and those who hold interests in them.

New Cayman Islands IP regime
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • Cayman Islands
  • September 07 2017

The Trademarks Law 2016, the Patents and Trademarks (Amendment) Law 2016 and the Design Rights Registration Law 2016 recently came into force, introducing a new IP regime in the Cayman Islands. The legislation establishes a standalone trademark registration system, prohibits the assertion of patent infringement in bad faith and allows existing UK and EU-registered design rights to be extended to the Cayman Islands, among other things.

BVI exempts certain categories of people from work permit requirements
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • September 07 2017

The government recently enacted the Labour Code (Work Permit Exemption) Order 2017, which excludes certain categories of people from the need to obtain work permits. In particular, the exemption for directors visiting the British Virgin Islands for board meetings supports the territory's position as the leading corporate domicile in the global economy.

Pacific Andes saga: forum shopping, Chapter 11 and just and equitable winding up
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • August 31 2017

'Forum shopping' is the practice of choosing the most favourable jurisdiction in which to bring a claim. In principle, there is nothing wrong in seeking to have a case heard in the forum which is most favourable to the client. However, it can lead to some fierce jurisdictional battles, particularly in insolvency, where the choice between debtor and creditor-friendly procedures can be stark. The Commercial Court has been wrestling with this situation over the past 10 months.

Shareholder activism: considerations for BVI companies
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • August 24 2017

As the world's leading incorporation vehicles, BVI companies are listed on exchanges and conduct business around the world and may therefore expect to be occasionally involved in activist campaigns or other challenges from shareholders. However, many investors and their advisers may be less familiar with BVI company law than their domestic legislation.

Government raises charter cruising permit fees
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • August 17 2017

The government recently enacted two measures regarding the cruising permit fees that each charter boat must pay while carrying paying passengers in the British Virgin Islands. Under the Cruising Permit (Amendment) Act, boats will now be classified as either home-based or foreign-based charter boats, with set fees for each classification. The Statutory Rates, Fees and Charges (Amendment of Schedule) Order 2017 confirms these fees for internal government purposes.

Legislation to change work permit fee calculation enacted
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • August 10 2017

The government recently enacted a measure regarding the fees payable for work permits in the British Virgin Islands. The amendment order replaces the employee flat fee system with an incremental calculation based on salary bands, which now generally assume a higher gross salary. It also replaces most exceptions to the previous scheme, keeping only those for domestic workers.

New beneficial ownership regime takes effect
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • August 03 2017

The British Virgin Islands has enacted legislation to implement a networked database of beneficial ownership interests in companies incorporated or domiciled in the jurisdiction. The Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System aims to ensure that the British Virgin Islands can comply with its obligations under the UK Exchange of Notes Agreement, which modernises the way in which BVI competent authorities may gain access to beneficial ownership information of BVI companies.

Getting financial services licensees in shape for the Caribbean FATF inspection
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • July 20 2017

The British Virgin Islands is expected to undergo its fourth round of mutual evaluation by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force in 2018, based on the Financial Action Task Force's International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation. In preparation, the Financial Services Commission has commenced a preliminary exercise to ensure that relevant persons have complied with the international standards requirements.

FSC signs multilateral memorandum with GIFCS
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • July 13 2017

The BVI Financial Services Commission recently signed a multilateral memorandum of understanding between members of the Group of International Financial Centre Supervisors. The objective of the memorandum is to ensure clarity and effective regulatory cooperation between the authorities responsible for supervising the banking sector in signatory jurisdictions.

Guidelines adopted for communication and cooperation between courts
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • June 29 2017

The British Virgin Islands recently adopted new guidelines for communication and cooperation between courts in cross-border insolvency matters. The guidelines are designed primarily to enhance communication between courts, insolvency representatives and other parties in the context of global restructurings and insolvency. As a result of the increased efficiency, it is hoped that stakeholders will see a reduction in delays and costs.

New beneficial ownership regime to take effect
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • Cayman Islands
  • June 22 2017

Following lengthy discussions with the UK authorities, the government recently approved new legislation to introduce beneficial ownership registers for certain Cayman companies and limited liability companies. Companies which are subject to direct or indirect regulatory oversight are likely to be exempt from the requirements. All Cayman companies should now review whether they will be required to maintain a beneficial ownership register.

New law gives FSC discretion to restrict publication of enforcement actions
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • June 08 2017

The Financial Services Commission Act 2001 was recently amended. The key revisions relate to the routine publication of fines and penalties levied by the Financial Services Commission (FSC). For example, the FSC now has the discretion to determine the types of case where publication of the enforcement may be restricted.

Latin America focus: litigating trusts disputes in the British Virgin Islands
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • May 04 2017

The British Virgin Islands has long been hailed as a leading offshore jurisdiction for wealth management and asset protection among Latin American high-net-worth families and individuals. The outcome in a recent case augments the credibility of the British Virgin Islands as a jurisdiction in this regard. The case also highlights the strengths of the BVI-only Virgin Islands Special Trust Act trust structure.

Amended anti-money laundering and terrorist financing code gazetted
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • April 27 2017

Schedule 2 of the Anti-money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice 2008 sets out a list of jurisdictions with laws and regulations similar to those of the British Virgin Islands. The principal advantage of relying on Schedule 2 is that business coming from recognised jurisdictions will generally attract the application of reduced client due diligence measures.

ESMA guide provides clarity regarding obligations under Transparency Requirements Law
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Capital Markets
  • Cyprus
  • April 11 2017

The European Securities and Markets Authority recently published a practical guide which provides an overview of each EU member state's national rules for the major holdings notification regime provided under the EU Transparency Directive. The guide clarifies certain key obligations and deadlines which apply under the Cyprus legislation that implemented the EU Transparency Directive and the Transparency Requirements Law.

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