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FSC has commenced investigation on Panama Papers allegations! - Premier Smith

- said territory mounting a robust response
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith today April 8, 2016 announced that the Financial Services Commission has commenced an investigation into the Panama Papers leak and the allegations being levelled against the Virgin Islands with regard of dirty money and tax evasion. Photo: VINO
Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (centre) accompanied by Financial Secretary Neil M. Smith (right) and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier Broderick Penn, explained that the territory was being measured in its response and was treating the issue very seriously. Photo: VINO
Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (centre) accompanied by Financial Secretary Neil M. Smith (right) and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier Broderick Penn, explained that the territory was being measured in its response and was treating the issue very seriously. Photo: VINO
Permanent Secretary in the Premier's Office Broderick Penn stressed that it is clear that the territory is well regarded for its regulatory strength in the sector and that the proof is in the pudding. He noted that the VI complies with the highest international standards for tax purposes, for regulatory purposes among others. “We are compliant with FATF, we are compliant with the OECD. Both of those set standards for international exchange for tax purposes,” he said. Photo: VINO
Permanent Secretary in the Premier's Office Broderick Penn stressed that it is clear that the territory is well regarded for its regulatory strength in the sector and that the proof is in the pudding. He noted that the VI complies with the highest international standards for tax purposes, for regulatory purposes among others. “We are compliant with FATF, we are compliant with the OECD. Both of those set standards for international exchange for tax purposes,” he said. Photo: VINO
Financial Secretary Neil M. Smith said that the Regulator must go about his job of doing the investigation carefully to ascertain whether there are issues that Mossack Fonseca missed. Noting that he did not want to prejudice the investigations, he said that it is preferable for the FSC to conclude their investigations and then announce their findings. Photo: VINO
Financial Secretary Neil M. Smith said that the Regulator must go about his job of doing the investigation carefully to ascertain whether there are issues that Mossack Fonseca missed. Noting that he did not want to prejudice the investigations, he said that it is preferable for the FSC to conclude their investigations and then announce their findings. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith today April 8, 2016 announced that the Financial Services Commission (FSC) has commenced an investigation into the Panama Papers leak and the allegations being levelled against the Virgin Islands with regard to "dirty money" and tax evasion.

Speaking at a press conference held in the Central Administration Complex the Premier, accompanied by Financial Secretary Neil M. Smith and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier Broderick Penn, explained that the territory was being measured in its response and was treating the issue very seriously.

The Premier insisted that the Virgin Islands is among the most rigorously regulated jurisdictions when it comes to financial services.

“It has begun,” said the Premier when asked whether the investigation had started. However, he said the circumstances that the investigators encounter in the course of their probe will determine the length of time it takes to be completed.

He said the Financial Services Commission must conduct the investigation in a proper way to make sure all the laws of the VI are adhered to with a view to determine what action to be applied if necessary.

According to the Premier, he was shocked to hear about the leak of the information as a result of the hacking of a major regional law firm, Mossack Fonseca, and the private information of persons, most of whom had done nothing illegal, was exposed.

“Of course we recognise that even though the BVI is one of the most highly regulated jurisdictions and that most people who use the BVI as a financial centre do so for legal purposes, there will always be instances where somebody may use it for an illegal purpose,” the Premier said.

The leader of government business said the message of the VI being one of the most highly regulated where financial services are concerned is certainly out there. “The fact that someone hacks into the information of a company is something that is beyond our control but something which we don't welcome and that is why we have all of the regulatory measures in place to investigate and prosecute and that is why we have signed up to all of the regulatory laws by the international standard setting bodies to be able to identify, regulate and take whatever action is necessary,” said the Premier.

Robust response

The Premier said the territory has to mount a robust response and hence the initiation of the investigation. “We have to mount a robust response and we have done that...and will continue to do that,” he said.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Premier's Office, Broderick Penn stressed that it is clear that the territory is well regarded for its regulatory strength in the sector and that the proof is in the pudding.

He noted that the VI complies with the highest international standards for tax purposes, for regulatory purposes among others. “We are compliant with FATF, we are compliant with the OECD. Both of those set standards for international exchange for tax purposes,” he said.

Financial Secretary Neil M. Smith said the Regulator must go about his job of doing the investigation carefully to ascertain whether there are issues that Mossack Fonseca missed. Noting that he did not want to prejudice the investigations, he said that it is preferable for the FSC to conclude their investigations and then announce their findings.

International press gives wrong impression of VI

The Financial Secretary said the few instances of persons using the jurisdiction to commit financial crimes and evade taxes are blown up by the international media to paint the VI negatively.

“What ICIJ does is it taints jurisdictions like the BVI and give people the impression that they are only used for illegitimate purposes. It is unfair. It is not true and they highlight exceptional circumstances and make it seem like the norm,” he said.

According to Smith, there seems to be an issue where people may feel that the territory is too small to be commanding such economic power as to be able to build a $100 million hospital. He said he believed some of the people writing negatively about the VI and its financial services sector need to be educated on the realities of the territory.

26 Responses to “FSC has commenced investigation on Panama Papers allegations! - Premier Smith”

  • mary j (08/04/2016, 20:29) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    This was a good move. The Premier and his team finally counter. Timing, however, is of the essence in matters such as this. Things can go from good to worse in minutes.
    • DON Q (08/04/2016, 23:07) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      he and he team is always late always after the facts
      • HMPH (aka "Socal Comantatar" (09/04/2016, 08:34) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
        me dun investagaton o me own

        law company doin busness an have lot o docamants

        most docamants fine but few showiin polaticans lyin

        newspaper pretend o be shock bout polaticans lyin

        every person who name in docamats asumm guilty even if dem dun nuttin wrong

        person workin o panama law company bribed by lot o cash

        de end
  • Boo (08/04/2016, 20:30) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Thank you Premier! Was expecting this days ago.
  • cay (08/04/2016, 20:59) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    Not clear on what dr smith is investigating
    • That's what he need to do (09/04/2016, 00:42) Like (27) Dislike (0) Reply
      He need to investigate how so many of his ministers bought houses, restaurants and hotels.
      • @ thar's what he need to do (09/04/2016, 08:38) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
        and who buy YACHT
        • NHI (09/04/2016, 10:46) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
          @ that's what he need to do. Don't these ministers work for a salary? They have alright to buy what they want. Do those ministers look at what you buy from ur salary if you are a working person?.
  • What? (08/04/2016, 21:41) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
    Investigating what.? Did we do something wrong?. Why and for what reason are we investigating if we insist we did no wrong.?,, Seems like the premier conceeding to doing something wrong..
    • @ What? (08/04/2016, 23:18) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      Again rubbish. As long as the NDP does it it is wrong. Please see with your eyes wide open.
    • Blind Man (09/04/2016, 00:43) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      So why yo think they kicked out the reporter?
  • well sa (08/04/2016, 22:13) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    No system on earth is perfect and we must face up to the facts that deficiencies will exist and do our best to be proactive, sensibel, and vigilant, working together and inclusively to minimise and remediate potential mistakes. No clique or group of persons can get it done by themselves. The BVI is now a multicultural society comprising of diverse nationalities and ethnic groups. The inclusion of all professionals is needed to get the work done for BVI to succeed as a transparent and respectable, global financial offshore centre.
  • Hear me (08/04/2016, 23:55) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    BVI time to watch your back.
  • Tunnel Vision (09/04/2016, 00:10) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    You always have to look at it this way, no matter where it is in the world of what country deals with financial services, there is no way you could keep up with every person that's doing wrong. Sometimes there will always be a thief or a cheat among the honorable. That's just how it is. But the international Media is making it seem like it's more thiefs than honorable doing business in the BVI and that just sounds like they are being bias, but that's just my opinion about it all.
  • the NDP too darm harden (09/04/2016, 00:40) Like (5) Dislike (4) Reply
    UK begged for the register but the NDP pussy-foot with the darm thing...See what happened now?
  • Yes (09/04/2016, 00:44) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply
    We are now called "nature's dirty little secrets"
  • reality (09/04/2016, 01:54) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    So let me get this straight. Tiny BVI has almost 500,000 ACTIVE companies registered here and conducting business transactions globally and its a crisis because a hand full are linked to popular figures around the world? Not one illegal issue has come up as a result of this fiasco but we here behaving like idiots and playing politics? All the companies registered in Delaware, Nevada and London are all squeaky clean huh? Why havent we heard ICIJ doing reports from those jurisdictions which have far more companies registered and not even half the regulations we have? Further if the issue is that of hiding money and not paying taxes etc, how does BVI fit into the picture? Where is thos money? Banco? Scotia? Firstbank? I mean we must be idiots! These companies have their accounts in the same jurisdictions that are painting us black. If you are concerned about money why the hell are you focused on BVI? We must be schupidy around here.
    • thank you (09/04/2016, 14:21) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply

      Thank you "reality". Finally someone with logical thinking on here. People are so god damn stupid messon. Talking a wack of sh*t..

  • wize up (09/04/2016, 03:13) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    and the church said amen!!!!
  • Vision (09/04/2016, 03:30) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    Handed over to Big Mac to deliver the NDP propaganda!
  • anthony (09/04/2016, 07:03) Like (4) Dislike (4) Reply
    Unfortunately, we have some among us who is turning this into a political issue. These are the idiots who lack understanding of the sector and the processes and procedures to deal with regulatory issues. The BVI is not the problem, Pamama is and has been for quite sometime. These people "the ICIJ" don't care about places like the BVI. As far as they concerned places like the BVI should be poor and still be without water or electricity and other basis emenities. They have their own agenda and I wouldn't be surprised if its a racists one at that..
  • Clean up (09/04/2016, 07:18) Like (7) Dislike (5) Reply
    This looks like too little too late. The chance to have an open and transparent register of owners names has passed. Many ordinary tax payers throughout the world are disgusted with the activity of the wealthy who use tax avoidance schemes to keep their wealth rather than to contribute tax like everybody else.
    The BVI response of announcing an investigation is a smoke screen, which no doubt will take years to clear. What can they be investigating, we all know the under resourced FSC is toothless, and in the pocket of the very industry it is supposed to Police.(How many prosecutions have there been for money laundering for example). One day when offshore banking is not so advantageous, then the BVI will have to find the $300 million from elsewhere or the economy will suffer.
    The government need to wake up and see the BVI as part of the international picture and stop the blinkered mentality.
    • we in deep $#!t (09/04/2016, 12:40) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      With Cuba opening up while we're being closed down.
    • So.... (09/04/2016, 14:23) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      So you tell me what their response should have been or what are they suppose to do now Sherlock? Let me hear this....
    • @clean up (09/04/2016, 15:08) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Under resourced FSC! Oh you had me ROFL with that one
  • ta ta (10/04/2016, 11:23) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I would encourage all to demand that Dr. Smith to get off their lazy laurels and come to the prper defense of this idustry from leaving it all up to the Esteem one to do their work


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