Ernst & Young has re-established an office in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), after a multi-year absence. The global accounting and consulting firm, which has 152,000 employees in 140 jurisdictions globally, has a staff of six in the BVI and hopes that will expand to double figures by mid-summer.
According to Dan Scott, managing partner for Ernst & Young’s Bermuda, Bahamas, BVI and Cayman Islands region the firm was attracted by the BVI’s international reputation for financial services, particularly the strength of the financial services legislation, the regulatory regime and the Commercial Court: “When I look at the BVI, it ticks all of those boxes very nicely,” he says.
Sherri Ortiz (pictured), Executive Director at the BVI International Finance Centre, says: “We have been busy during the past few years strengthening and deepening our relationships with existing and new customers by projecting the BVI globally as an innovative and vibrant provider of financial services. Even with the current economic climate we have retained our position as a leading international finance centre and are able to attract industry giants like Ernst & Young.
“In addition, last year the BVI won an award for ‘Best for Quality of Life’ and the jurisdiction was runner up in the ‘Best Human Resources’ division in rankings compiled by the Financial Times’ Foreign Direct Investment Intelligence Division from an independent collection of data across 31 Caribbean and Central American countries. This has provided even more of an inducement for professionals wishing to move to the BVI.”
The BVI has continued to see constant and healthy levels of business which is due to the strength of its financial services sector and adherence to international regulatory standards. Most notably towards the end of last year two key international regulatory bodies lent their support to the work the BVI has done in this regard. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) announced that the BVI was a jurisdiction that demonstrated "sufficiently strong adherence" to new global regulatory and supervisory standards on international cooperation and information exchange.
The FSB announcement came shortly after the BVI was recognised by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which concluded that the BVI’s tax information exchange agreements met the established standard.