Beautiful Virgin Islands

Friday, May 27, 2022

Gov’t will still implement publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership

Gov’t will still implement publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership

The government has indicated that it remains committed to collaborating with the United Kingdom government to create publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership for companies in the territory.
Speaking at a media session on Friday, Premier Andrew Fahie said he gave the commitment in September of 2020, and he remains committed to fulfilling it.

The Premier said the registers would be in line with international standards and best practices as they develop globally or as implemented by European Union (EU) Member States by 2023, keeping in line with the EU fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

“The commitment is one which I did not give lightly nor did I give it without reservation. But as a premier financial services jurisdiction, we must continue to maintain and improve on our great record of compliance with all relevant international standards and best practices,” Fahie said.

“As such, whilst we continue to monitor developments on the subject of publicly accessible registers as they feature in various international fora, and whilst we continue to make the case for a slightly different strategic approach, we must, of course, take the appropriate steps to honour our commitment if and when called upon,” the Premier continued.

Fahie said the consultation process will soon begin with the financial services industry. His executive team in the Ministry of Finance will take the policy lead and they are expected to work closely with the BVI Financial Services Commission to develop a sound policy to govern business ownership in the territory.

“Together, I am confident that the collaboration with the private sector will give the Virgin Islands the best framework that we can negotiate and with the legal protections, safeguards and security, that I have insisted on all along, if publicly accessible registers are indeed to become operational by next year. I repeat my earlier caution that, throughout these negotiations, prudence and balance must be the guiding mantra,” Fahie said.

Last month, the Virgin Islands was added to the EU’s ‘grey list’ of tax havens. The grey list is used for jurisdictions that have not yet complied with all international tax standards but have committed to doing so, usually in a specified time period.

The Virgin Islands had passed the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnership) Act, 2018 and made an amendment to the BVI Securities and Investment Business Act to increase the regulatory oversight of closed-ended investment funds, in response to concerns raised by the EU.

BVI’s inclusion on the list provides a public relations headache since the financial services sector is one of the main pillars of the territory’s economy.

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