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The Premier of the British Virgin Islands Orlando Smith has refuted a number of erroneous media reports pertaining to information leaked in relation to two BVI trust companies to an international consortium of journalists, defending the territory's adherence with international best standards and its cooperative attitude to global efforts to tackle all forms of fiscal crime.
Seeking to set the record straight, Smith underscored that: "The BVI financial services industry was built over several decades on key principles of integrity, vigilance, accountability and transparency; and in keeping with all relevant international standards. This has led to the international community having full confidence in our jurisdiction, thus the frequent use of BVI companies for a myriad of business transactions. Indeed, some of the same articles recognize that this Territory has been used overwhelmingly for legitimate financial and commercial activities. Where this has not been the case, we have always collaborated with our international partners."
"The BVI Authorities are therefore actively investigating how private information has been illicitly obtained and used to attack the BVI financial services industry, which operates in full compliance within international guidelines and the law."
"We can assure all our stakeholders around the world that as far as we know this is an isolated incident. There is no indication of contagion or that the breach was in any way systemic. Also, no breach of BVI official databases has occurred."
Continuing, the Premier highlighted that "the BVI is not a secrecy jurisdiction. As a member of OECD Global Forum, we have signed 22 tax information exchange agreements and continue to negotiate with more than 10 other countries. In addition, the BVI shares information when legitimate requests are made by the relevant treaty partners. We operate effective international cooperation regimes and will continue to assist foreign authorities through our mutual legal assistance processes to ensure compliance with established legal obligations."
"We firmly commit to the full and effective implementation of internationally established standards concerning tax information exchange, the combating of money laundering and all other forms of financial crime."
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