Three United Kingdom parliamentarians hashed out the usefulness of offshore finance centres in a Westminster Hall debate last week, during which a ranking UK Treasury officer praised the Virgin Islands’ place on the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development’s “White List” of cooperative jurisdictions.

Mark Hoban, a Conservative Party member representing Fareham, said that a new trend in transparency was “greatly to the credit of the British Virgin Islands and other overseas dependencies, as well as some of the Crown dependencies.”
He added, “They have played an important role and led the way in the transparency agenda.”

Mr. Hoban, financial secretary to the UK Treasury, also defended the role that OFCs play. “They are an important contributor to the city of London. They provide services to UK citizens, whether at home or abroad,” he said, adding, “It is absolutely vital that they comply to the highest international standards around transparency, about tax, dealing with terrorist financing and money laundering, and I think adhering to those standards would be the best safeguard for their future prosperity.”

The remarks were made in response to an intervention from Mark Pritchard, the new chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the British Virgin Islands.

‘Unique position’

The debate was organised by Mark Field, an MP representing the cities of London and Westminster, who also serves as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Private Equity and Venture Capital Group.  

“The UK has an almost unique position in the debate about IFCs,” Mr. Field said. “We have a constitutional relationship, through our Crown dependencies and overseas territories, with half of the top 30 offshore financial centres.”
Sherri Ortiz, executive director of the BVI International Finance Centre, welcomed the comments.

“We are particularly grateful for the intervention by Mr. Pritchard on the BVI and our elevation to the ‘White List,’” Ms. Ortiz said. “The endorsements are a testament to the BVI’s well recognised regulatory platform and its commitment to keep pace with developments in international standards.”

MPs defend OFCs in debate