British Virgin Islands

Monday, Sep 20, 2021

Gov’t seeks to eradicate “fronting” in the business community!

Gov’t seeks to eradicate “fronting” in the business community!

The government has announced that its proposed Business Licensing Act (2020) will seek to eradicate “fronting” - something often done by persons who want to circumvent the law when opening new businesses in the territory.

In the BVI, fronting is said to happen when a non-Belonger seeking to open a new business, partners with a BVIslander to avoid expensive licensing fees and the overall process BVI laws set for foreign business owners.

After the new business is set up, the foreigners wait a few years before seizing a controlling interest in the enterprise and/or before removing the BVIslander as a co-owner of the business.

But in a recent interview with 284 Media, Junior Minister for Trade Shereen Flax-Charles said the Business Licensing Act (2020) will tackle this issue.

“We’ve found that you have this situation they call ‘fronting’ where a lot of BVIslanders will go into business with a foreigner and then two or three years later, the BVIslander is nowhere in the mix. So we are trying to streamline the process and be able to vet [new business] applications when they come in,” Flax-Charles explained.

The proposed legislation has already had its first reading in the House Of Assembly.

The law seeks to replace the Business, Professions &Trade Licences Act (1990) and is being touted by the government as a bill that will vastly enhance the local business environment.

Higher fees

Under this new legislation, both Belongers and non-Belongers would pay revised licensing fees.

Belonger licence fees would range from $150 to $1,500 — previously $25 to $200.

As for non-Belongers, they would pay fees ranging from $1,500 to $15,000 — previously $200 to $600.


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