The IBC Act – the building of a nation

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Although nobody knew it at the time, the inception of the BVI’s 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.It is reasonable to assume that it was a hot day, and in most of the offices in Road Town, Tortola the overhead fans would have been turning lazily to avoid creating enough breeze to disrupt the piles of paper on assorted desks. Amongst those offices there was only one law practice in the Territory at the time, and that was the firm of Harney Westwood & Riegels. Within their offices on Russell Hill there were just two lawyers: Neville Westwood, a veteran of the Second World War who had settled in the Caribbean with his wife and daughter in search of a more peaceful life, and Michael Riegels, who had recently come to the BVI with his family from Tanzania after a period of civil unrest. Harold Harney had by this time passed away.

On this otherwise unremarkable day, the rotary telephone rang with a deafening jangle, and the receptionist would have answered. On the other end of the line was a Wall Street lawyer by the name of Paul Butler from renowned New York law firm, Shearman & Sterling. Like so many Wall Street lawyers Mr Butler was a highly capable and astute businessman. He also had characteristic American friendliness and charm in abundance. He could anticipate immediate attention because international telephone calls were uncommon in those times. Cable & Wireless had laid the necessary undersea cables only a few years before. Mr Butler asked politely if he could speak to either Mr Westwood or Mr Riegels, and in the end he was connected with Michael Riegels. There would have been few pleasantries – telephone calls were extremely expensive under the Cable & Wireless monopoly – and Mr Butler got down to explaining the purpose of his call. He was an American corporate lawyer, and there were double taxation treaties between the USA and various “micro-states” in the Caribbean which offered the potential for generous US tax relief. He had been dealing with lawyers in the Netherlands Antilles, but had been having trouble with the language barrier, and he was interested in trying to use the BVI going forward. Mr Riegels said they would be very happy to assist and he would start looking into it right away....

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Topics:  BVI Business Companies, Income Tax Treaty, Tax Treaty

Published In: General Business Updates, International Trade Updates, Tax Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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