BVI Finance today confirmed that the fundamentals for the BVI’s financial services industry remain sound despite the UK Parliament today approving a law which threatens to use an Order in Council unilaterally to impose publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership onto the Overseas Territories, if they do not introduce them voluntarily, by 31 December 2020.
The passage of the amendment followed a robust debate in the House of Lords during which a number of peers strongly supported the BVI position.
BVI Finance Interim Executive Director Lorna Smith, OBE, said, “This decision is deeply flawed and unfair. It takes no account of the constitutional position of the British Virgin Islands and the right to manage our own economy, of which business and financial services remain a critical part.
Our view on public registers of beneficial ownership has not changed. We know that they are not required by any global standard setter and we will continue to defend our right not to have a public register until such time that they become a global standard. As we have said previously the BVI meets all global criteria in this matter and the innovative Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System (BOSSs) is evidence of that, reinforcing the ability of BVI competent authorities to co-operate with law enforcement authorities in the UK and elsewhere.
We are a well-regulated, highly respected, and forward thinking jurisdiction, supported by high-calibre private sector professionals. I strongly believe that the BVI will continue to play a valuable role in facilitating global trade and investment.”
The decision by the UK has clear constitutional ramifications and the BVI Government will be exploring the consequences of this. Under the BVI Constitution everyone has a right to privacy and it is the intention of the British Virgin Islands Government to protect that right.