HONG KONG -- BVI House Asia in Hong Kong has launched a series of seminars focused on the British Virgin Islands (BVI) financial services products.
More than 40 Hong Kong lawyers, legal specialists and trust practitioners attended the first seminar on BVI trust and estate law. The seminar was conducted by trust expert Christopher McKenzie in two training sessions held on Thursday and Friday.
McKenzie, a partner from O'Neal Webster based in their new London office, has chaired the STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) committee which was responsible for making the proposals to the BVI government that led to its 2003 and 2013 trust innovations.
Maples and Calder’s Richard Grasby and Charlie Sparrow also presented case studies on BVI trusts in practice.
The seminars focused on the unique features of BVI trust law that have made the BVI one of the world's premier trust jurisdictions. These features include the Virgin Islands Special Trusts Act (or VISTA) that creates a special trust regime designed for trusts that hold shares in companies and which enable settlors to retain substantial control by allowing them or those nominated by them to be directors of underlying companies.
McKenzie also highlighted changes made to the BVI trust legislation in May 2013. Among these changes, he highlighted the new features that enable private trust companies (or PTCs) to be trustees of VISTA trusts and assets to be transferred to VISTA trusts from other trusts.
VISTA is particularly popular in Asia and it is believed that assets worth hundreds of billions of Hong Kong dollars are now held in VISTA structures. Another focus of the presentations was the BVI's highly popular PTC Regulations, which enable unlicensed BVI companies to be set up as a confidential way of holding trust assets.
Director of BVI House Asia, Lorna Smith, said the trust and estate seminar is a precursor to the type of activities that will be put on by BVI House Asia in Hong Kong and Asia to provide updates and education on BVI's financial services products to the practitioners in the region to add value to the BVI's offerings.