Regulatory and compliance in British Virgin Islands

Harneys

As one of the only offshore law firms in the Caribbean with a standalone regulatory practice covering the BVI, Harneys advises regulated and non-regulated entities on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing compliance issues, financial services regulations, sanctions, tax information exchange work and data protection matters. The department is headed up by Philip Graham, who is chairman of the BVI Investment Funds Association and consults regularly with the local government and the regulator on legislative developments. Graham was at the forefront of advising the government on the implementation of the new economic substance regime and the update of the Private Investment Funds Regime; in 2019, Graham and counsel Joshua Mangeot (among others) developed an automated economic substance classification solution to guide clients through the new legal framework. Ayana Hull, who was previously an in-house counsel at the BVI Financial Services Commission, advises BVI-regulated entities on licensing issues, continuing obligations and enforcement actions, with particular expertise in fintech regulations.

Practice head(s):

Philip Graham

Other key lawyers:

Joshua Mangeot; Ayana Hull

Testimonials

‘They are the team for regulation in the BVI, and I have also had excellent experiences with them elsewhere globally. Smart, effective and proactive.’

Ogier

Ogier’s multi-disciplinary regulatory and compliance practice is integrated into the wider firm’s corporate, finance and investment funds departments, with particular expertise in financial services regulation and anti-money laundering compliance issues. As corporate practice head, Michael Killourhy focuses on the regulatory aspects of financing and M&A work; he was a lead adviser to government bodies on the interpretation and application of the BVI's economic substance legislation. Simon Schilder, who divides his time between the firm’s Jersey and BVI offices, frequently advises trust companies and financial services providers on BVI regulatory matters; he is also a former chairman of the BVI Investment Funds Association and the BVI's Securities, Investment Business and Mutual Funds Advisory Committee. Ray Wearmouth is also a key contact for financial services matters, and senior associate David Mathews is strong on regulatory issues arising in the digital assets space.

Other key lawyers:

David Matthews

Key clients

London & Oxford Group (HouseToken Platform)

J.P. Morgan

Take Two Interactive

Western Union

Citco Fund Services

Zedra

IQ EQ

TMF

Citibank

VP Bank (Schweiz) AG

National Energy Services Reunited

Work highlights

  • Advised property group London & Oxford on the creation of a blockchain-based real estate investment platform “HouseToken” and its subsequent major Initial Token Offering.
  • Advised Zedra on the BVI regulatory aspects arising in connection with its new partnership investment with Corsair Capital.
  • Advised T2 (owner of Rockstar Games) on the application of BVI gaming and other regulatory legislation to certain features of a popular action-adventure game series sold by T2/Rockstar.

Appleby

Appleby handles the full spectrum of compliance, corporate governance, regulatory and risk advisory matters for clients, with particular expertise in information security regulation and multi-jurisdictional data protection issues, including advising on the interaction between local legislation and GDPR. A key name to note is Andrew Jowett, whose practice encompasses the regulatory dimensions of fund formations, money services licensing work, fintech and blockchain start-ups, joint ventures, and ICOs. Associate Rebecca Jack is a member of the BVI Financial Service Commission’s fintech working and advisory group, and specialises in financial services regulations. Jeffrey Kirk  leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Jeffrey Kirk 

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Jowett; Rebecca Jack

Key clients

Brookfield Asset Management

Aegis Custody

iFinex

Tether

GEOS Venture Limited

AXIA Systems Inc

Staker Services Limited.

Revolution Populi

Work highlights

  • Advising Brookfield Asset Management on the impact of its investment in Oaktree Capital Management on Oaktree’s insurance subsidiary, Utmost, which holds a BVI insurance license.
  • Acted as BVI legal advisers to iFinex on the private token sale of LEO tokens.
  • Acted as BVI legal advisers to Tether on the launch of Tether Gold, advising on all BVI aspects involved in the issuance of the Tether Gold tokens.

Carey Olsen

As part of the firm’s corporate practice, Carey Olsen’s regulatory team advises on economic substance and anti-money laundering obligations, and also has experience assisting with the registration and de-registration of investment funds. Headed up by Clinton Hempel, who splits his time between South Africa and the BVI, the corporate department advises approved managers, regulated funds, global institutions, boutique providers, directors and former directors on investigations and regulatory regimes. Counsel Elizabeth Killeen focuses on regulatory issues and also regularly advises trust companies and registered agents in the BVI on regulatory and reporting requirements, particularly in relation to economic substance.

Practice head(s):

Clinton Hempel

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Killeen

Key clients

TMF (B.V.I.) Ltd.

Tricor Services (BVI) Ltd.

Newhaven Group Limited

Praxis

Sable Trust Limited

Carey AG

Landmark Management

Chorus Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted Tricor Services (BVI) Limited with its internal restructuring and mergers, and liaised with the BVI Financial Services Commission on the related approvals.
  • Assisting TMF Group (BVI) with its economic substance review and assessments; currently in the process of providing legal opinions for the companies that TMF provides registered agent services to, to assess the economic substance requirements and obligations.
  • Assisted Praxis (a registered agent in the BVI) with its economic substance project.

Mourant

Leading Mourant’s regulatory team for the BVI and Cayman, Sara Galletly, who made partner in 2020, has practised BVI law since 2019 and focuses on regulatory developments impacting fund, finance and corporate structures. Key areas of strength include advising on anti-money laundering issues, sanctions, beneficial ownership matters, economic substance work and funds regulations. The regulatory group is regularly assisted by colleagues in the firm’s Guernsey, Jersey and Cayman offices, and counts regulated financial services, insurance and banking businesses on its client roster. Local managing partner Rachael McDonald is also noted for her work in the regulatory space.

Practice head(s):

Sara Galletly

Other key lawyers:

Rachael McDonald; Saraid Taylor

Testimonials

‘Pragmatic and structured approach to our request. They understood our requirements on the cost / benefit side and worked with us to agree a fixed quote. The requirements changed at the end of the project due to additional regulatory releases, they considered this and amended the scope to include the extra information.’

‘Sara Galletly was straightforward and pragmatic to work with.’

Walkers BVI

Led globally by Cayman-based Lucy Frew, Walkers BVI's group provides specialist regulatory advice to investment funds, banks, trust companies and financing and payment service businesses. The team has a notable specialism in anti-money laundering and terrorist financing requirements, sanction regulations, exchange of tax information issues, and economic substance requirements. Senior counsel and regulatory specialist Lodewijk Van Setten bolstered the team's expertise following his recruitment in 2020. Former BVI regulatory head Lisa Penn-Lettsome departed in late 2019 to take up a position with the government as executive director of international business.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Frew

Other key lawyers:

Lodewijk Van Setten

Key clients

Anchorage

Apollo Management

Bank of America

Blackstone

Cerberus

CVC Capital Partners

First Reserve Corporation

GSO Capital Partners

HarbourVest Partners

Oak Hill Capital Management