|Lawyer named to top post in int’l trust group|
|Written by JASON SMITH|
|Wednesday, 30 January 2013 14:52|
Ms. Lewis’ appointment, which took effect on Dec. 1, gives her leadership of a group originally formed to exchange ideas and encourage the worldwide development of the industry. The group currently boasts about 18,500 members in 96 countries, practitioners from a variety of disciplines who have taken the group’s professional certifications.
“It’s not only lawyers: we’re accountants, we’re trust administrators, very much like the people who make up the membership of the trust industry here in the BVI,” she said Tuesday.
Previously, Ms. Lewis served in leadership positions of the local and regional levels of STEP before being elected to the group’s international board of directors.
The trust industry, and particularly offshore jurisdictions, have faced criticism in recent years over concerns that they are being used to evade taxes.
“Appropriate planning for managing one’s estate is not against the law. No STEP member anywhere in the world will encourage tax evasion,” Ms. Lewis said.
In the Virgin Islands, trusts play a key role within the territory’s financial services sector, she added.
“The BVI trust, in some ways, is related to the English law trusts, which are several centuries old. And BVI trusts formed a greater part of the BVI financial services industry long before the passage of the IBC Act in 1984,” she said.
Because her group encourages its practitioners to meet high standards in providing advice to the public, education is key, Ms. Lewis said.
As STEP’s chairman, she would like to increase online access to the group’s training courses, among other measures, she added.
“To me, the ease of access to our educational offerings is something I will be pursuing during my chairmanship,” she said.
At a reception held in her honour Tuesday night at Maria’s by the Sea, speakers including Governor Boyd McCleary, Financial Services Commission Managing Director Robert Mathavious and Premier Dr. Orlando Smith praised Ms. Lewis for her leadership role in the organisation.
“I want to thank her for all that she’s doing so far and also to congratulate her on her new position,” Dr. Smith said.