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Premier Smith Names Leading Counsel to Drive Legal Challenge on Imposition of Public Register of Beneficial Ownership
  • POST ON 31 May 2018

Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, announced the leading counsel chosen to advise the BVI Government following the passage of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act and the threat to impose publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership on British Overseas Territories by the UK.

In his statement, Premier Smith said: “The BVI Government has appointed Withers Worldwide and retained Professor Dan Sarooshi, QC, of Essex Court Chambers and the University of Oxford as Leading Counsel, as well as eminent Virgin Islands constitutional lawyer, Gerard Farara, QC, to advise the Government on the potential legal challenge to the imposition of a public register of beneficial ownership.”

He added: “They are confident that the imposition of a public register would raise serious constitutional and human rights issues and would be subject to constitutional challenge. As we have consistently stated, our position is that we will not introduce public registers until they become a global standard.”

The Premier also outlined the itinerary for his upcoming Asia trade mission trip from 4-15 June, where he will be joined by a BVI delegation to promote the region as the jurisdiction of choice for international business and finance. The delegation will visit five cities in Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai.

Commenting, BVI Finance Interim Executive Director, Lorna Smith, OBE, said: “Despite recent events in the UK, the British Virgin Islands Government has reiterated that it will not adopt public registers unless they become a global standard. BVI Finance will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders across the industry and work closely with the Government as it examines all possible remedies to ensure that we maintain our leading role in the international financial services industry.

We look forward to reinforcing the contribution that the BVI makes to the global economy as a whole and Asia in particular.”