At the end of 2014, more than six years after the financial crisis, Icelanders still possessed ISK 31.6 billion (USD 247 million, EUR 219 million) in the British Virgin Islands, and almost solely on the island of Tortola, according to new figures from the Central Bank of Iceland, Kjarninn reports. This figure is not believed to include all assets of Icelanders and Icelandic companies with assets registered on the island.
According to Bryndís Kristjánsdóttir, chief of the Directorate of Tax Investigations in Iceland, no banking- or financial information is provided by the British Virgin Islands about companies registered there. As in other tax havens, the law does not require book keeping or annual financial reports.
Even though bank accounts or stocks owned by those companies are registered in places like Tortola, the money itself is not kept there. As far as Icelanders are concerned, those are bank accounts or companies established by the old, Icelandic banks in Luxemburg, where the funds themselves were, and still are, kept, although they’re registered in more exotic places.
During the pre-crash boom, it was common for companies to keep their holdings and money in faraway countries. Branches and subsidiaries would set up companies for their clients in places where there was bank secrecy. Tortola was especially popular in that regard. There were hundreds of such companies, most of them established by Kaupþing bank in Luxemburg. This was done in an effort to avoid paying taxes on investment in Iceland.