Wednesday, June 28, 2006

3 million USD of Calypte Biomedical stock bought by BVI and Panama investors

3 million of Calypte Biomedical stock were bought by 2 investors on June 19, 2006.

Calypte is a company dealing with the development and commercialization of diagnostic testing products detecting sexually transmitted diseases. It's market capitalization is 37 million USD and only 12 employees are working for this corporation. Main direct competitors are global players - Abbott Laboratories and Johnson&Johnson, companies with market capitalisation measured in billions.

The new investors are BVI-based Tanfield International Ltd. and Panama-based International Credit Bank. These corporations decided to purchase 16,666,666 shares of the common stock of Lake Oswego-based Calypte Biomedical, par value 3 cents, at a price 18 cents per share. Currently, the shares are sold at 21 cents per share.

In recent time, the future of Calypte Biomedical was undefined. In February, the American Stock Exchange intended to delist the company's stock. Now, the situation changed as the company raised 3 million USD.
Article any source

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Unprecedented Economic Growth in the BVI. Part 2

In his 50-minute speech on Wednesday, BVI Chief Minister Orlando Smith not only summed up the successful economic development of the BVI, but also made a look into the future.
According to Smith, if the BVI wants to compete and win in the global market of 2010 and beyond, it has to work out new ways to develop other sectors of economy as well as grow its already expanding economic base.

First, Smith pins hope on improving the BVI's tourism. In particular, he believes in overhauling international tourism marketing efforts, investing in tourism facilities, amending the Hotels Aid Act for providing increased support for small local properties, encouraging new resort developments and improving service standards.

Then, Smith hopes in financial services development. Currently, it is fact not fiction that the BVI is the 1st in the world in terms of company registration with some 57,000 new companies set up in 2005.

Also, the BVI is the 4th leading captive insurance domicile in the world and the 2nd leading domicile for hedge funds (more than 2,000 operating from the BVI).

As to strengthening BVI physical infrastructure, ithe efforts are going to be taken for improving telecommunications service, the electrical and water utilities as well as air, land and sea transportation.

Also, in his speech Smith discussed the plans on establishing a world-class educational system by means of providing additional resources, facilities and training for students.
Article any source

Monday, June 26, 2006

Unprecedented Economic Growth in the BVI. Part 1

On Wednesday, BVI Chief Minister Orlando Smith made a speech at the ceremony at Central Administration Complex in Road Town attended by almost 500 people. The audience included Gov. David Pearey, members of the Legislative Council, judiciary officials, senior public servants, residents of all the districts as well as students of secondary and primary school. Opposition members of the parliament were not there (which is not surprising as they were not the previous year as well), except for Rep. Omar Hodge of District 6.

The Chief Minister was glad to ensure the audience that the British Virgin Islands is a well-positioned country with a strong growing economy – this particularly concerns the tourism and financial services sectors.

In his 50-minute speech, Orlando Smith summarised the last 50 years of the history of the BVI from strides to respect all over the world. He pointed out 2 objectives of his government – the first one is growing the economy and strengthening the social infrastructure and the second one is encouraging national pride.

The BVI economy is growing remarkably, BVI GDP and per capita income put the British Virgin Islands ahead of the whole eastern Caribbean. Today the BVI is an intergral part of a global marketplace.

The BVI Chief Minister Orlando Smith seemed to be very optimistic and enthusiastic about the current BVI position, which, indeed, was not without good reason.
Article any source

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Farm subsidies remain at high level in OECD

The latest figures from the OECD show that the amount its thirty members spent on domestic agriculture in 2005 was almost unchanged from 2004 at $279.8bn (€221bn, £152bn). Subsidies accounted for almost one-third of farm incomes across the rich world.

EU aid to its farmers fell marginally from $136.1bn to $133.8bn while Japanese and Swiss farmers remained among the most protected. The producer subsidy equivalent, which measures the cost to taxpayers of subsidies and consumers of tariff barriers, was 32 per cent in the EU, 56 per cent in Japan and 68 per cent in Switzerland. The $42.7bn US support represented 16 per cent of receipts.

In very simple terms, a concentrated interest deriving benefits from intervention prevails over the diffuse interests of consumers and taxpayers.Any source

BVI is one of top investors in Saudi Arabia

This year the British Virgin Islands is among the top 10 investors in Saudi Arabia, which is quite remarkable as the amount Saudi Arabia's FDI is very impressive.

As to the headliner, it is the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that overtook Japan by signing a 30-billion deal with Emaar for the King Abdullah City in Jeddah. The investments by the UAE are about 41% of the total FDI to Saudi Arabia.

In accordance with statistics released by the Sagia (Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority), the other top investors are British Virgin Islands, Bahrain, France, Germany, Lebanon, Cayman Island, Canada and Bermuda.

As to the distribution of FDI, a big amount was invested into the services sector, and the rest went to agriculture and other sectors.
Article any source

Saturday, June 24, 2006

In the land of the square bracket

Just how far apart the leading participants in the Doha Round are on farm trade issues is revealed in a draft paper on modalities published by the chair of the agricultural negotiations, Kiwi Crawford Falconer.

Falconer was obliged to admit that his document is 'inelegant' and it contains no less than 760 pairs of square brackets, indicating a lack of agreement, in a document of 74 pages. This beats the current world record of 402 square brackets in the Seattle draft in 1999.

It is difficult to see any progress on the key issues. For example, there is no narrowing of positions on sensitive products with the text stating that 'each member shall have the right to designate up to [1-15] per cent of dutiable tariff lines as "sensitive products"'.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the ministerial meeting in Geneva expected for June 28 - July 3 will fail to make the badly needed significant progress. There is, however, an increasing realisation that the whole Doha Round is in jeopardy given the need for a timetable that will allow for American approval under fast track negotiations.

High level political leaders need to intervene effectively to ensure a renewed focus on the broad picture rather than the ad valorem tariff for butter. That is not an easy task, however, given that many (from American politicians to NGOs, not to mention the French) are arguing that no agreement is better than a bad agreement. What is increasingly likely is that this will be the last omnibus trade round as they hinder as much as help progress towards fairer world trade.Any source

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dubya is cone sharing fave

President George W. Bush may have had bad poll figures recently, but they are starting to recover, and now Americans have chosen him as the No.1 VIP they would like to share an ice cream cone with.

In a survey by Ben and Jerry's, Bush received 21 per cent of the vote, followed by Bill Clinton with 20 per cent, Angelina Jolie with 19 per cent, Jennifer Aniston with 19 per cent and Kelly Rippa with nine per cent. The survey was conducted to mark the launch of the first packaged super-premium ice cream cone which is available in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cherry Garcia flavours.

Now back to the Doha Round.Any source

Thursday, June 22, 2006

BVI fights against crime

The government of the British Virgin Islands is trying to lower the level of criminal activity in the BVI. As part of this attempt, a new one-week training course on combating different forms of drug smuggling and drug production was taken by BVI representatives.

The Caribbean Chemical Control Training Seminar was organised by the BVI Customs Department in collaboration with the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) dealing with the drug problem in the Americas.

However, the course in the BVI was attended not only by BVI representatives, but also by those from Anguilla, Barbados, St Lucia, Suriname and the Bahamas.

Officers from two departments – Customs and Police Departments participated in the training as well.

The course touched upon numerous topical issues, the most vital of which were the international framework for drug control, drug identification, using chemicals in the production of drugs, methods of smuggling the use of chemicals for drug production and officer safety, etc. Also, the use of special techniques to profile persons suspected in criminal activities were one of the central in the training.
Article any source

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

BVI is again the 2nd to have invested in China

As it has already been mentioned on April 20, 2006 in The BVI as the 2nd largest foreign investor in China, the British Virgin Islands companies are one of the leaders in foreign direct investment (FDI) – they were keeping the 2nd largest foreign investor’s position in China in the 1st quarter of the year. Now the same results have been confirmed – as China published its updated information.

So, in the 1st 5 months of 2006, China's FDI reached USD 22.99 billion, which is up 2.78% over the same period last year.

Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands and Japan were the major FDI sources again. The data on contracted FDI was not released, accordingly, these are deals signed but not yet executed.
Hong Kong was the 1st to have invested 6.9 billion US dollars. Japan was listed as the 3rd with 1.9 billion US dollars. The British Virgin Islands have the 2nd position investing in China 4.1 billion US dollars.

From January to May, China's foreign direct investment totaled US$22.99 billion, which is a slight increase of 2.7 per cent over a year ago.

The BVI FDI of 4.1 billion is almost 18% of the total China's FDI and nobody except for the companies from the offshore zone of China - Hong Kong have invested more.
Article any source

New bid to drain wine lake

Wine is the next sector to be targeted for reform in the CAP with proposals to be unveiled in the next couple of days. Farm Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel seems to be hoping that a successful wine reform will reinforce her credibility as someone who can bring about meaningful change. But she is well aware of the challenge ahead. She told the informal meeting of farm ministers at the end of May, 'There are so many cultural feelings on wine, I would consider [the reform] is going to be even more difficult than the sugar discussions.'

Whatever shape the reform takes the EU is still going to spend €1.2 billion a year on wine subsidies, but the aim is to spend less of the money on the wine that no one is going to drink and is distilled into industrial alcohol or bioethanol. As wine drinkers, especially those looking for a reasonably priced but drinkable wine, turn to 'new world' wines such as those from Australia and Chile, European wines need to become more competitive. My own consumption pattern is probably not unusual in the UK - Australian or Chilean wines for everyday drinking, and more expensive German, Alsatian or Italian wines for more special occasions.

The EU has been considering four broad options: keeping the status quo, carrying out a fundamental reform, implementing the 2003 CAP changes in the sector, or endorsing a complete deregulation of the market. Because this is the CAP we are talking about, the two more radical options are not really on the table.

The most likely mix is temporarily encouraging wine producers to 'grub up' their vines in return for funding, although such policies have not always been cost effective in the past, and extending the current restrictions on planting rights until 2013. Many of the existing cash subsidies would be cut back and overall EU production would be reduced. This would not be welcome news for traditional wine producing nations like France, Italy and Spain.

Incidentally, England does not yet produce enough wine to come within the EU regime but could do in the future if the area occupied by vineyards continues to grow, encouraged by the prospect of global warming. Many of the existing vineyards are boutique wineries, often appealing to a tourist market. English wines can be of good quality, but often cost more than a comparable wine from the continent.

For good reasons, Fischer Boel has particularly targeted crisis distillation. She stated, 'Crisis distillation is becoming a depressingly regular feature of our common organisation for wine. While it offers temporary assistance to producers, it does not deal with the core of the problem - that Europe is producing too much wine for which there is no market.'

The problems the EU faces in this area is shown by the news that French wine growers will receive extra money from their own government to supplement the crisis distillation cash awarded to them recently by the Commission. The EU Wine Management Committee agreed to allow France to convert up to 1.5 million hectolitres of table wine and 1.5 million hl of quality wine into bioethanol. Unpopular French prime minister Dominique de Villepin is calling for 'exceptional national measures' to supplement the Commission's subsidy, a move that is probaby illegal.

I have just got hold of an interesting book on The World's Wine Markets: Globalization at Work edited by Kym Anderson and published by Edward Elgar and I will report any interesting points made when I have read it.Any source

Doha Round crisis

Crawford Falconer, chairman of the Doha agricultural trade negotiations, is to present a paper on Wednesday June 21st in an attempt to get a basis for agreement in the troubled Round. Apparently Falconer's proposals will be close to the compromise model put forward by the Brazilian-led G-20 group. On the biggest tariffs, their compromise proposal of 75% cuts is halfway between the EU offer of 60% and the US demand for 90%. G-20 also proposes a maximum tariff of 100% whereas the EU has ad valorem tariff rates substantially over 100% in several sectors.

However, it will be far from a conclusive document with options and lots of brackets. Nevertheless, his efforts and those of Canada, which has cast itself in the role of mediator, may not be enough. The ministerial meeting at the end of the month may not produce the hoped for outline settlement. The parties are digging their heels in and taking quite entrenched positions.

EU Farm Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has refused to confirm or deny rumours that the paper will be based on new figures given to Falconer by the Commission that go further than the EU's October proposal. Falconer's paper is, however, likely to be closer to the G-20 proposal than Brussels would want.

Opposition to what they would see as a sell out is buiilding among member states with the usual suspects involved. France, Italy, Greece, Poland, Ireland and Hungary are the countries most worried that the Commission is ready to sacrifice European agriculture for limited gains in areas such as services and industry. The UK and its liberal allies (Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania and Estonia) is backing the Commission's aim to get a deal in Geneva before the summer break.

Fischer Boel faces a real dilemma. She thinks that the EU still has 'some slight room for manoeuvre' within the negotiating mandate given it by the Council of Ministers, but an EU spokesperson admitted that the room for manoeuvre was 'not very large'.

It should also be remembered that there is a group of countries in which Japan and Switzerland are prominent that take an even harder line on market access issues. The Swiss have argued that if the idea of a tariff cap was dropped, there could be more flexibility in other areas of the negotiations. Canada has suggested that a cap could exist, but countries facing the biggest difficulty in complying could be given some leeway. This is a well intentioned idea but it is very vague in its present form and could drive a coach and horses through parts of any agreement.

Georgaphical indications

This remains a key issue for the EU because of its relationship to the strategy of developing high value added niche products in Europe. The EU and Switzerland, backed by accession states Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, together with Kenya (with its horticulture sector), Morocco and Thailand, argue that the higher level of protection awarded to wines and spirits should, in the future, be extended to all agricultural products.

The EU has already won the battle to stop marketers using terms such as 'champagne' or 'port' for products which are not made in the specific region to which they relate, although success there was partly the consequence of direct agreement between wine producers in the EU and US. However, products such as 'Parma ham' can still use the name provided that their packaging states they are produced outside of the EU.

Little progress is being made on the issue with opposition to the EU's stance coming from countries as diverse as the US, Brazil and Taiwan.Any source

Monday, June 19, 2006

SOL Group continues acquiring Shell service stations

The SOL Group has signed a Share Purchase Agreement with Shell. The agreement has been signed to acquire the shares of the Shell Company (Puerto Rico) Limited. This transaction is related to retail business of Shell that consists of a chain of 163 service stations and the lubricants businesses in Puerto Rico. Shell Chemical Yabucoa Inc. - the petrochemical plant in Puerto Rico - was excluded from this transaction, so, it remains under Shell management.

In 2005, the SOL Group acquired Shell's fuels businesses in the British Virgin Islands. Shell sold its stations, but stayed the sole distributor of its brand name fuels and lubricants in the BVI market. This was done along with other countries of the Eastern Caribbean region Barbados, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Netherlands Antilles, Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent as well as in Belize, Suriname and Guyana. All in all, in 2005, the world-famous oil company Shell sold its 111 Caribbean service stations and 30 distribution units to the Sol Group.

A very successful year in the Eastern Caribbean market in general (and in the BVI in particular) as well as in Belize, Suriname and Guyana makes the expectations of SOL representatives in Puerto Rico very optimistic.
Article any source

Sunday, June 18, 2006

BVI – Korea. Agreement on Taxation Information or war against foreign investors?

The Korean government is planning sign the agreement with the British Virgin Islands in order to exchange the information on financial transactions and tax records of foreign investors. South Korea aims at having agreement with not only the BVI, but also with other popular tax havens – the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and others.

It goes without saying that exchanging financial and tax-related information with the BVI and other tax havens will help the Korea government to levy taxes on gains made by foreign investors based the BVI or other tax havens, respectively.

Korean analysts expect that British Virgin Islands and other tax havens could be unwilling to cooperate, because they should protect data of offshore investors using their financial and legal system. Therefore, Korea is planning to obtain the information through offices located in the BVI that still do not have double taxation avoidance treaties with South Korea.

The Korean Ministry of Finance and Economy has recently made a proposal to the British Virgin Islands as well as to some other well-known offshore tax havens – it suggested forming an agreement on the mutual exchange of financial transaction and tax payment information. The Korean Ministry hopes to sign at least tax record disclosure agreements with the BVI and other tax havens on their list.

On July 1, the revised International Tax Law takes effect. Then, foreign investment funds that invest in South Korea through tax havens will have to pay tax on profits made in Korea in accordance with its corporate taxation rules.

A double taxation avoidance treaty is an agreement allowing taxation on capital gains from the sale of stocks by foreign investors a) by the state where an investor is headquartered or b) by the state where such capital gains are realized.

Just one of good examples of the closure of investment doors in Korea is Four Lone Star – a company that is facing criminal charges on tax evasion in Korea, and is suspected in alleged fraud and foreign-exchange violations. However, Korean officials claim that the government treats both overseas and domestic investors equally... Still, many Korean officials indirectly confirm that the government starts the movement against foreign investors.
Article any source

Saturday, June 17, 2006

BVI-based companies as related to North Valle drug cartel?

On June 13, the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) claimed that 5 physical persons and 20 companies are connected with Colombia’s North Valle drug cartel. These people and companies are to face economic sanctions.

Among the individuals and companies named by OFAC there are some companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. BVI-based companies were used to move cartel's illegal proceeds. The other companies charged with their link to North Valle drug cartel are the companies incorporated in Colombia, Panama and the US.

Since this US Treasury Department has just designated physical persons and companies connected with North Valle cartel, there has been no official response from BVI representatives yet. However, commentaries on US and BVI co-operation in this matter should follow very soon.
Article any source

Thursday, June 15, 2006

BVI choice for GSM network

My February blogpost 'British Virgin Islands IBCs should become "faster" after telecom reform' mentioned the company Cable & Wireless in regard with telecommunication reform and large bills that BVI residents used to face. This post, however, is to mention the same Cable & Wireless (CW.L) in regard with its choice for GSM network in the British Virgin Islands.

Cable & Wireless has made the choice in favour of Nokia (NOK) that is expected to supply and deploy a GSM network in the BVI. Nokia already supplies GSM and WCDMA 3G radio and core networks to Cable & Wireless in the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, so, the BVI is to follow.

Cable & Wireless operates through International and UK business units. Its International unit operates integrated telecommunications companies in 33 countries and offers mobile, broadband, domestic and international fixed line services to Cable & Wireless (C&W)customers in the Caribbean, Channel Islands, Panama, Macau and Monaco. Its UK unit, in its turn, provides enterprise and carrier solutions to large users of telecommunications services throughout the UK, the US, continental Europe and Asia, as well as consumer and small business broadband services in the UK.

In September 2000, Cable & Wireless and the BVI government agreed on telecoms strategy in the BVI that the license will not be prolonged when a 40-year monopoly expires in 2007. This confirms that the BVI telecoms sector is a subject to change and develop. Choosing Nokia for GSM network is just one step in this process that C&W makes to be ready for the future competition.
Article any source

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

BVI-based company receives bullish estimates for its Platinum Project

AfriOre Limited (AFO.TO) is a British Virgin Islands-based company that specializes in the acquiring resource properties and exploration and development of platinum and gold projects in Africa. The company held its projects in Namibia, Kenya, Mali, etc. Its executives and senior management can boast of extensive international experience in the mining industry, mostly focused on South Africa where AfriOre maintains aggressive exploration and acquisition programs. AfriOre has representatives in almost all the countries where it operates. The technical operations are managed from the AfriOre's representative office in Johannesburg. The company's treasury is about CDN$ 24.6M.

In the end of May, a report "AfriOre Limited: Akanani Platinum Project, Limpopo Province, South Africa, Project No. J883" was released. The report was written by a Professional Natural Scientist J.C. Witley employed by Snowden Mining Industry Consultants (international minerals consultancy group, independent of AfriOre). The report presents an initial inferred mineral resource estimate of 183.0 Mt at a grade of 4.5 g/t PGM (platinum, palladium, rhodium plus gold), which is 26.4 million ounces of PGM and 0.24% nickel and 0.14% copper over an estimated true width of 16.6 m. The press report released forward-looking statements that reflect the current expectations and beliefs of the AfriOre and are based on the information available to the company. Of course, forward-looking statements are not guarantees as they concern the date when they were made, but some uncertaincies are possible because of what the future may bring.

In the beginning of June, metals newsletter editor Robert Bishop who gives prognostications for mining projects expressed quite a bullish opinion about this BVI-based company's Akanani Platinum Project in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. He believes that this project could be bought by another mining company.
Article any source

Monday, June 12, 2006

Re-shuffle in BVI Ministries

In the British Virgin Islands, the ministries are usually headed by a Permanent Secretary, a Deputy Permanent Secretary and a number of Assistant Secretaries dedicated to administer selected portfolios. The Permanent Secretary and associated staff are working under the direction of a Crown appointed minister. The minister and collectively his colleagues usually work on setting policy and direction, while the permanent secretary manages the process of ensuring agreed outcomes.

From time to time, such re-shuffle is carried out in the British Virgin Islands in order to provide permanent secretaries an opportunity to experience new areas and develop as professionals.
The last wide-spread re-shuffling of permanent secretaries took place in the BVI in 2003.

Now, a new re-shuffle was carried out. So, the most recent re-shuffle of permanent secretaries in some Ministries in the BVI happened last Tuesday.

The same assignments have permanent secretaries of the Chief Minister’s Office and the Deputy Governor’s Office, Clyde Lettsome and Otto O'Neal. New ministry assignments have been given to 4 permanent secretaries.

Rosalie Adams was a permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social development. Now she is a permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works.

Julia Christopher was a permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works. Now she is working for the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Sheila Brathwaite was working in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour. Now she is taking the position in the Ministry of Health and Social Development.

A former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education and Culture Josephine Callwood is now working for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour.
Article any source

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Re-establishment of BVI Police Advisory Committee in the BVI

Back to BVI local issues.

The BVI Police Advisory Committee was established for the 1st time in 1996. It consisted of 9 members, and Reeial George became its chairman. The Committee took the responsibility of improving the prison system in the BVI.

Now, the Police Advisory Committee has been re-established to become a bridge between the people of the British Virgin Islands and their police force, to strengthen and improve these ties. The committee is responsible not only as well as for establishing programs on improving the relationship between the community and the police, but also for advising the governor and police commissioner on community matters relate to law enforcement.

BVI officials expressed their support to the Police Advisory Committee and encouraged BVI residents to help police fight crime as, however working well, BVI police officers cannot do everything on their own.

So, this was one of the steps the BVI has done towards defeating criminal behavior in the BVI.
Article any source

Saturday, June 10, 2006

BVI, OECS and Atlantic Hurricane Season

The British Virgin Islands as well as most of its neighboring countries are very small territories located in the Atlantic ocean region with quite substantial hurricane activity. In 2005, for example, the Atlantic Hurricane Season was presented by 28 storms, 15 of which were hurricanes. The average North Atlantic Hurricane Season has 11 storms, 6 of which become hurricanes.

This year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a very active hurricane season. NOAA forecasts 13 to 16 storms in the region this season. 8 to 10 may become hurricanes and 4 to 6 could be major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or even higher. Individuals are encouraged to make preparations to protect lives and property.
This is why what the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) does is so topical for the British Virgin Islands.

In April 2006, the OECS Secretariat and the Department of Disaster Management and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has a workshop on the methodology for macro economic damage assessment training. This 3-day workshop started in the BVI on April 25. Also, this workshop was held in all of the member states of the OECS.

This was essential as the countries of the OECS are used to face various challenges mainly because of their small territories and vulnerability to natural disasters. The total population of OECS countries is approximately 800,000. Their institutional capacity is not unlimited, accordingly, per capita costs of social services and infrastructure are quite high.

The British Virgin Islands is an associate member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The other members are Anguilla (associate member), Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Montserrat, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) serves to achieve economic harmonization and integration, to protect human and legal rights as well as to encourage good governance between countries in the Eastern Caribbean. The OECS has a very important function in case event of natural disaster, for instance, a hurricane – it spreads responsibility and liability among its members and associate members.
Article any source

Thursday, June 8, 2006

BVI company DataQuill BVI Ltd. suits about wireless technology patents again

A Dallas-based company Research In Motion Ltd. filed pre-emptive lawsuit in federal court in Dallas on the 31st of May 2006. It seeks a court ruling that Research In Motion technology doesn't infringe on a patent owned by a BVI-based company DataQuill BVI Ltd.
Both companies already have experience in patent rights litigation.

For example:
Research In Motion Ltd. - it has recently paid 612.5 million US dollars to finish a patent suit over its BlackBerry wireless e-mail device.
DataQuill BVI Ltd. - in 2001 it sued Handspring and the Kyocera Wireless Corporation asserting that Handspring's Visorphone and Kyocera's Smartphone used DataQuill's technology. This happened after Handspring's Visors sales were expanded globally to Asian, North American, European, Australian and New Zealand markets.

DataQuill BVI Ltd. is a company holding intellectual property rights that are related to using information exchange and information download over wireless telecommunications networks. DataQuill technology covers WAP, JAVA and BREWTM implementation on mobile phone devices as well as some mobile devices combining at least one of these Internet capabilities and an integrated digital camera.

This British Virgin Islands company was initially formed in 1993. Since then, it has secured rights in inventive technology, which today does not seem inventive at all – nowadays it has its commonplace in a variety of mobile devices, cellular telephones and handhelds. DataQuill secured this technology through worldwide patent protection in the USA, the UK, Australia, China and other countries. The company has many patents all over the world (for instance, United States patent. no. 6,058,304; European Patent EP0840248 / EP98200196.8 published on September 24, 2003 in Patents and Designs Journal No. 5966.

DataQuill is continuing a successful technology licensing to companies connected with the industry of wireless telecommunications. The list of licensees utilizing technology patented by this BVI company include consists of many well-known companies such as Palm, Inc., Novatel Wireless, Handspring, Inc., Glenayre Electronics. As to the products covered, they include very successful devices, for example, the Palm TreoTM communicator over one million units of which have been sold since its release in 2002.
Article any source

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Seething around BVI. What happened next to Health & Racquet Club

In December 2000 the information that Virgin Active is acquiring the 85-strong chain of Health & Racquet Clubs of South Africa from the liquidators of LeisureNet appeared in press. Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group of Companies, and Virgin Active bought the chain for £28 million the same month.

Sir Richard Branson was interested in South Africa's Health & Racquet Club (H&RC) for he considered South Africa to be a priority territory for expansion. Also, he was glad to make an offer that would protect most of the jobs and clubs. It is said that South African business was bought from Health & Racquet in response to a personal request to Sir Richard Branson from Nelson Mandela.

Virgin Active decided to replace the former Health & Racquet gym image with “a totally new Life Centre concept” that would contain state-of-the-art equipment, Life Libraries and Internet stations, Virgin Cosmetics and beauty treatments.

So, after the LeisureNet chain went into liquidation, the South African clubs got their second breath. Due to the Virgin Active business model, the business was turned upside down.

In February 2002, Richard Branson's Virgin Management sold 54% of its Virgin Active Group of health clubs to Bridgeport Capital for £134.5 million. This was done to help Virgin Atlantic Airways' cash flow after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001. Since then, the business increased its portfolio in South Africa as well as has increased its number of clubs in the UK twice and entered the Italian and Spanish markets. Now Virgin Active now has 78 clubs in South Africa, 25 clubs in the UK and 12 clubs in Continental Europe. All in all, it is 635,000 members worldwide.

Then, in 2005, Sir Richard Branson bought his business back. The sum of the deal is not disclosed to the public. Now Virgin Active is preparing for expansion and plans to include special facilities for children and to attract more black members. Branson said that Bridgepoint has been a great partner and thanked the company for their support over the last 3 years.

That’s a good part of the story about the business that in 2000 was brought to bankruptcy. And another story of success of outstanding entrepreneur Richard Branson, the father of Virgin brand and the owner of a beautiful BVI island – Necker Island.
Article any source

Toffs would be hit by farm subsidy cap

Some of Britain's wealthiest aristocrats would be hit by a plan to revive caps on farm subsidies, a proposal fought off by Britain and Germany in 2002. However, farm commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel is proposing to revive the plan next year., a group that monitors CAP payments, calculated that the Commission's original proposal for a €300,000 (£207,000) cap would have hit 1,880 farms in the old EU 15. 1,430 were actually in Germany, many of them former collective farms in East Germany. There were 330 farms in Britain and just 30 in France. British landowners that would be hit include the Duke of Westminster and Duke of Marlborough.

The British government hit back at the proposal, claiming that blue blooded gentry were exponents of modern, large-scale efficient agriculture. A Defra spokesman said that the main objective of CAP reform was to make the EU more competitive in world agricultural markets. 'To achieve that it needs to reward farmers who are the most efficient', he said. 'There is no point in CAP subsidies propping up a failing market.'

Others would argue that the CAP is not there to help farms that are capable of being internationally competitive without large subsidies, but rather to promote rural development and help more marginal, peripheral farmers survive. One solution might be to taper subsidies above the €300,000 level.

In any case the policy might be difficult to implement. The legal definition of a 'farm' is far from clear. Jack Thurston of warned that large farms might simply split up ownership to get round a cap.Any source

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

History of LeisureNet, Peter Gardener and Rodney Mitchell case

LeisureNet was the principal operating division of the now-defunct Health and Racquet Club. The bad story started when it was liquidated in November 2000 and it had ZAR 320 million as liabilities – plus contingent liabilities leading into even more millions.

It was suspected that the former CEOs of LeisureNet Peter Gardener and Rodney Mitchell hiding behind offshore companies were enriching themselves at the expenses of investors of LeisureNet. There was a Channel Islands based offshore company Dalmore Ltd. that was paid at least ZAR 40 million by LeisureNet for gyms in Germany, without LeisureNet shareholders being aware of Gardener's and Mitchell's interests.

Legal proceedings started and the CEOs were arrested in March 2002. Investigators together with South Africa Revenue Services considered that the LeisureNet group was defrauded of about US$ 380,000.

There emerged the information that Peter Gardener and Rod Mitchell each held a secret 20 percent interest in a German health club operator as well as there was a secret agreement between Mitchell and Gardener that a commission of DEM 90,000 obtained from each new lease signed on a health club in Germany would be shared among Mitchell, Gardener and 2 other executives of the company.

In 2005, Gardener was convicted of VAT fraud and insider trading as related to LeisureNet and sentenced to imprisonment. Jail term was conditionally suspended. Gardener agreed to pay ZAR 2,9 million after reaching a plea bargain agreement with the Directorate of Special Operations, unit of the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa called the Scorpions. This is a multidisciplinary agency that deals with investigating and prosecuting corruption and organized crime.

Now judge Dirk Uijs continues pleading the case in Cape High Court regarding the four accused - former LeisureNet joint chief executives Peter Gardener and Rodney Mitchell, Mitchell's wife Suzanne, and their business associate Hans Moser Nentered. Gardener and Mitchell face charges of fraud, money-laundering, income tax evasion and contraventions of the Companies Act, involving some ZAR 16 million. Moser and Mrs Mitchell face money laundering charges only. They are defended by Advocate Francois van Zyl.
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Monday, June 5, 2006

British Virgin Islands companies used for receiving management fees from LeisureNet

LeisureNet trial continues at Cape High Court, South Africa. Former joint chief executives of LeisureNet Peter Gardener and Rodney Mitchell are accused of white collar crimes and face charges that include theft and fraud.

In these days another evidence - stating that Deloitte, the auditing and professional services firm represented by Lester Cotten, a senior partner, had assisted Peter Gardener and Rod Mitchell to falsify a note in the company's 1999 annual financial statements - appeared.

The evidence revealed that before an inquiry in terms of section 417 of the Companies Act that there had been a misstatement in the disclosure note of LeisureNet's 1999 annual financial statements. Several British Virgin Islands companies to receive the management fees had been mixed up.

During 1999 LeisureNet's offshore subsidiary, Healthland International paid the management fees (GBP 428,222 to each company) to Ajax Way Investments (Gardener’s offshore company), Clockwork (Mitchell’s offshore company) and Pinnacle (the offshore company of Hendrik Neethling, the former sales and marketing manager of the Health & Racquet Club).

The identities of these companies were not disclosed in the 1999 annual financial statements, but the names of other British Virgin Islands companies - Kinsman, Moreland and Baycroft - also associated with Gardener, Mitchell and Neethling, were wrongly disclosed in the note.
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Sunday, June 4, 2006

About offshore service firms Appleby and Bailhache

Appleby Spurling Hunter is one of the leading and biggest providers of specialized offshore legal services. Its main 4 areas are Corporate & Commercial, Litigation & Insolvency, Trusts, and Property. The firm has more than 430 lawyers and staff and is located in the most successful offshore jurisdictions of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Bermuda and the Cayman Islands as well as has the offices in London and Hong Kong. 2/3 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list and almost a half of companies on the FTSE 100 list were represented by Appleby Spurling Hunter. It represented also many high-net-worth individuals and private companies.

The company is focused on corporate and commercial issues, including the incorporation and formation of offshore structures. It also has an extensive litigation and insolvency department and its trusts and property departments can boast of talented and experienced attorneys.

15 lawyers of Appleby Spurling Hunter have been admitted to practice in the BVI. The BVI office is located in Road Town, Tortola, where 5 resident attorneys provide corporate and litigation services. The group is growing to meet the interest from Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America and to provide service to clients in the BVI. Company represents both international and local customers, and is supported by the affiliated corporate services management company Appleby Corporate Services (BVI) Limited.

The Managing Director of Appleby Corporate Services (BVI) Ltd is John Greenwood. Also, he is the main contact attorney for the British Virgin Islands office. 14 attorneys of this firm are admitted to practice in the British Virgin Islands. Huw Moses, the Managing Partner of the office, is admitted to practice in both the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

Bailhache Labesse Group is a Jersey-based company that provides legal, fiduciary and administrative solutions to global corporations, institutions and high-net-worth individuals. Bailhache Labesse Group was established in the 1890s. The offshore group is made up of four separate businesses - Bailhache Labesse Law Firm, Bailhache Labesse Trustees Limited, Bailhache Labesse Fund Administrators Limited and Bailhache Labesse Securities Limited.

Bailhache Labesse Law Firm is an offshore firm providing full services in law sphere. Its vital features are corporate & financial services, commercial property, dispute resolution and private client work.

Bailhache Labesse Trustees is a trust company that offers trust and corporate services and is experienced in the formation, administration and regulation of all kinds of offshore companies, trusts and other structures.

Bailhache Labesse Fund Administrators is a company that provides registrar, administration and company secretarial services to private equity, property and other investment funds. The company aims at institutional, professional and high-net-worth investors.

Bailhache Labesse Securities is a listing member of the Channel Islands Stock Exchange as well as its leading sponsor. It is specialized in the listing of specialist debt instruments, funds and relevant knowledge.
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Saturday, June 3, 2006

Offshore legal services provider Appleby Spurling Hunter to merge with Bailhache Labesse

After negotiations that began last year, Appleby Spurling Hunter and Bailhache Labesse have decided to join forces and merge.

Appleby Spurling Hunter and Bailhache Labesse, leading offshore firms, will join business operations on the 1st of September 2006. The merger that will be created will be the only offshore provider of legal, fiduciary and administrative services with props in the 4 world's leading offshore business centres - the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Jersey. Also, they are presented in the financial centres of London and Hong Kong.

Appleby has 435 employees, including around 100 lawyers (31 partner, 69 counsel or associates). Bailhache has 130 employees, including 32 lawyers (14 partners, 18 associates), so, it is the smallest participant in this merger. The combined firm will be called Appleby Hunter Bailhache and it will have about 600 employees, including 44 partners.

According to the managing partner of Appleby Peter Bubenzer, one of the main purpots of this merger for Appleby Spurling Hunter is gaining substantial European reach. Bailhache is Jersey based offshore service provider. It specializes in individual financial and corporate services, dispute resolution, trust and corporate services.

The merged group will offer benefits to new and existing clients. Due to the strength and depth of the new company across multiple jurisdictions will allow Appleby Hunter Bailhache to provide customers with access to unprejudiced offshore business knowledge and experience and talented lawyers in any location. Accordingly, the most appropriate jurisdiction and team of employees will always be able to meet requirements of firm's customers.

Both companies are already considered to be one of the leaders in their respective jurisdictions and the combined resources of the new company will allow to provide support and superior services to those customers aiming at conducting offshore business in the most crucial offshore jurisdictions.

Appleby Hunter Bailhache will concentrate on the main strengths of both companies – these are general company and corporate advice, asset finance and banking, funds and investment services, insurance, dispute resolution, telecommunications and technology, insolvency and restructuring, trusts and real estate, capital markets and financial structures. Also, the offshore legal services will include corporate administration, company accounting, trust, management services.
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Friday, June 2, 2006

BVI FSC - Chairman of the Board of Commissioners retires

The time has come to change the leadership of the Financial Services Comission (FSC) as far as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Mr. Michael Riegels has recently announced that he is retiring.

The governing body of the BVI FSC is the Board of Commissioners. The Board of Commissioners among other responsibilities is charged with FSC policy and its management monitoring in order to ensure safe and efficient use of the resources of the FSC.

The Board of Commissioners consists of the Managing Director as an ex officio member and 4 to 6 other members. The Board is appointed by experienced persons with relevant knowledge in financial services sphere.

Until the retirement of Mr. Michael Riegels, the Board of Commissioners was represented by its Chairman Mr. Michael Riegels, Deputy Chairman Mr. Robin Gaul, Commissioners Ms. Eleanor Smith, Mr. Phillip Fenty, Mr. Martin Fuggle and Mr. E. Walwyn Brewley, and Managing Director, ex officio Commissioner, Mr. Robert Mathavious.

Chairman of the BVI FSC Board of Commissioners Mr. Riegels retired from his post effective 30.04.2006. He was appointed this post in 2002 as considered to be the best Chairman for the FSC because of his experience in financial services in the British Virgin Islands. Until now, there was no publicly announced information about would will take the post of the Chairman of the BVI FSC Board of Commissioners.

The key objectives of the success of the BVI Financial Services Commission are accountability and impartiality. That's why the Financial Services Commission Act established a Board of Commissioners which is the governing body of the Commission.

It's not a secret that the BVI FSC was established as an autonomous body in December 2001, frankly speaking, with some degree of skepticism. But, when 4 years passed, both the skepticism and the fears disappeared. It goes without saying that this was the achievement of Mr. Riegels who was the Chairman of the BVI FSC Board of Commissioners throughout these 4 years.

The Board members found Mr. Riegels to be an excellent Chairman, a good leader, an efficient decision-maker, supporting, guiding and encouraging the entire Board of Commissioners. Mr. Riegels said that he had been glad to serve as Chairman of the FSC for the first 4 years of its existence and had enjoyed the support of the Board of Commissioners and a Managing Director.
Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Finance commented on the Chairman's retiring the following way: "With Mr. Riegels at the helm, the Board of Commissioners has adroitly guided the transition of the former Financial Services Department from a government unit to a highly regarded autonomous body responsible for the regulation and supervision of financial services in the BVI."

As to the future plans, Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton said that this year FSC objective is "the realization of providing guidelines to the industry". According to him, the BVI FSC "sees the establishment of a physical presence in Asia as pivotal to improving the efficiency of the services provided to this specialist market, and to reduce the barriers presented by language, culture and business environment." ("Advancing Our Social Services" delivered on 16.12.2005)

The primary functions of BVI FSC are as follows:
  • engendering a proper regulatory environment for financial institutions to provide qualitative products and services to get the economic benefit of the BVI;
  • protecting consumers ensuring that those who provide financial services are competent and financially safe;
  • sustaining domestic and international confidence in financial services and contributing to the growth and development of this industry;
  • providing the education system for those who work in financial services sphere;
  • improving the public understanding of risks and benefits related with financial products;
  • innovating in financial services and monitoring its legislation effectiveness;
  • consulting with the government and financial industry on financial services legislation, regulations, supervisory policy and practices;
  • accounting the international nature of financial regulation and business, regular contacting with foreign regulatory authorities.

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