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BVI To Probe Stamp Duty Evasion

by Amanda Banks,, London

16 May 2007

British Virgin Islands Governor David Pearey has announced that a commission of inquiry would be instituted after the election to investigate concerns related to the apparent undervaluing of property for the purpose of avoiding stamp duty.

The Governor said that his decision arises out of the recommendation in favour of an inquiry made in a March 2006 Public Accounts Committee report.

“In the intervening 14 months there has been a full investigation by the Attorney General and the Director of Public of Public Prosecution into the transactions highlighted in the report,” the Governor said. “These transactions were found to have given rise to an underpayment of stamp duty in excess of $500,000. Full payment of these sums is being secured, but evidence points to the likelihood that this practice has been continuing over many years.”

The Governor said that the commission of inquiry will sit after the election. It will examine the evidence of underpayment over a period, if necessary as far back as the year 2000 or beyond, and other related matters.

Elections are constitutionally due in the territory in June 2007 but must be held before October 10.

“The post-election timing for the inquiry is so as to ensure that it is able to reach judgments away from the political limelight,” the Governor said.

He noted that Chief Minister Dr. D. Orlando Smith and the Chairman of the PAC, Leader of the Opposition Ralph T. O’Neal, have been informed of the decision to issue an inquiry into the matter.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series giving background tax and residence information on many of the key offshore jurisdictions is available in the Lowtax Library at and a description of the report can be seen at

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