The British Virgin Islands’ (BVI) landmark International Business Companies (IBC) Act gave rise to the BVI’s finance industry and created a successful model that was emulated in other jurisdictions.
The IBC Act was developed by three Harney Westwood & Riegels (Harneys) authors – Michael Riegels, Neville Westwood and Richard Peters - along with then-BVI Attorney General Lewis Hunte and Paul Butler of New York firm Shearman & Sterling.
To mark the anniversary, Harneys produced a brief video featuring interviews with some of the IBC Act founders and its inception and impact.
In honour of this milestone, the BVI International Finance Centre (BVI IFC), hosted a series of commemorative events, under the theme “The IBC Act 1984…Ahead of Its Time”.
These events included an IBC Act commemorative exhibit exhibit, a GIS special feature television programme, and radio public service announcements. The events were designed to educate the public about the history of the financial services industry, the IBC Act and its importance to the Territory.
This exhibition was followed up by a series of activities including an enlightening televised discussion on Tuesday night on JTV with a simulcast on ZBVI, an essay competition among our high school students that is still ongoing, and this evening I will drink a toast with the industry and those who have contributed much to this sector.
As I reflect on this auspicious occasion of the 30th Anniversary of this innovative piece of legislation that catapulted the British Virgin Islands into becoming an international financial centre for global business, it is only fitting that I set out for this Honourable House the implications of this Act including the challenges that accompany it.
Harneys partner Colin Riegels tells the story of the Act’s development:
"Although nobody knew it at the time, the inception of the British Virgin Islands’ International Business Company Act occurred at some point during the year 1976. Nobody now recalls the exact date, except that it was during the summer."