Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Labour and Trade, Hon. Lorna Smith, OBE, inaugurated the Sterling BVI AMLTF Conference 2023 with a strong emphasis on the crucial need for robust communication between regulatory bodies and the private sector. She underscored the importance of staying abreast of regulatory developments to effectively address industry-specific challenges.
The seventh annual Sterling BVI AMLTF Conference, hosted by Sterling BVI convened on November 3 drawing a diverse audience both online and in-person to deliberate on the issues surrounding money laundering, terrorist financing and global sanctions adherence.
In her address, Hon. Smith highlighted the increasing international scrutiny faced by financial regulators and standard setters in the face of global economic uncertainty and challenges. To safeguard the integrity of the British Virgin Islands' (BVI) financial services industry, the Deputy Premier emphasized the importance of regulatory compliance, underscoring it as a key rationale for the establishment of the of the Ministry of Financial Services, Labour, and Trade.
The financial services sector, which constitutes over half of the BVI Government's revenues, plays a pivotal role in the jurisdiction's economy. Hon. Smith commended the responsiveness and collaboration of the insurance sector, recognising its significance in offering solutions to recent challenges. Hon. Smith reiterated the importance of an ongoing dialogue between the industry and the Ministry of Financial Services, applauding the industry's willingness to provide guidance.
Hon. Smith then acknowledged the dynamic nature of the insurance sector and lauded the cadre of professionals in the BVI's financial services sector, including lawyers and accountants, for their unwavering dedication to effectively serving clients. Designated non-financial businesses and professionals (DNFBPs) were also recognised for their vital role in the tourism sector.
While the government plays an essential role, Hon. Smith underscored the necessity of maintaining a robust regulatory regime to combat money laundering and nefarious financial activity effectively. The conference's focus on topics such as risk assessment, identity verification, and information security was also commended for its alignment with industry needs.
Hon. Smith called for proactive measures against money laundering and terrorist financing, urging businesses and individuals to take an active role in reporting and compliance. She emphasised the importance of identifying and rectifying gaps in the regulatory system, expressing the need for industry collaboration to ensure compliance.
Hon. Smith then highlighted the global scrutiny faced by the BVI's international financial Centre and the importance of reporting, investigating, and prosecuting illicit activities to demonstrate its security to international partners.
She assured the Government of the Virgin Islands’ commitment to supporting the industry in maintaining regulatory compliance and invited industry stakeholders to actively participate in this endeavor.
The keynote address concluded with Hon. Lorna Smith expressing gratitude to Ms. Sherri Ortiz-Fahie and her team at Sterling BVI for organising the AMLTF Conference, commending their continuous efforts in hosting this essential conference.