The British Virgin Islands (BVI) will set up its Asian headquarters in Hong Kong next month despite a worldwide outcry against tax havens after many of its rich clients’ information has been leaked by an investigative journalist group.
In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post, Elise Donovan, the executive director of BVI International Finance Centre, which is a government body that promotes financial services, said the island’s Premier and Finance Minister Orlando Smith would personally come to Hong Kong to officiate at the opening.
She said BVI was eager to forge closer ties with Hong Kong and China.
The announcement comes a week after the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists claimed to have obtained a trove of data detailing how rich people around the world were hiding their wealth through BVI accounts. It named many prominent figures in Europe, the US and Asia, triggering a worldwide furore.
French president Francois Hollande – whose personal friend and campaign treasurer Jean-Jacques Augier was named by ICIJ as one of those holding secret accounts in BVI – had himself recently urged the adoption of tougher measures to combat tax evasion.
The issue of tax evasion and havens will also be discussed at the two-day European Union finance ministers meeting starting in Dublin on Friday.