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BVI to introduce new legislation governing private trust companies

The British Virgin Islands is to bring in new laws for private trust companies, as of 1 January 2007, that are designed to make it easier for private trust companies to set up in the BVI.

The legislation will be introduced by amendment to the Financial Services Commission Act and the issue of a new regulatory code under the Act that will enable certain categories of companies to apply, on a fast-track basis, for exemptions from the licensing requirements and other provisions of the BVI Banks & Trust Companies Act.

Under the proposals, most unremunerated private trust companies that do not offer, and which are not perceived as offering, their services to the general public will be able to apply for the new exemption.

Unremunerated BVI companies that merely hold assets as nominees or “bare trustees” and which do not offer, or purport to offer, their services to the general public are expected to be automatically exempted. It is also anticipated that those exemptions will, once granted, take retroactive effect.

Lisa Penn-Lettsome, President of the BVI Bar Association, said that the ability of BVI-domiciled companies to act as trustees of trusts was integral to the provision by an offshore financial centre of a comprehensive range of financial services. The proposed legislation would enhance the reputation of the BVI as a well-regulated jurisdiction, which has the flexibility to enable clients to set up structures to meet legitimate estate planning needs.

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