Collaboration and Commitment outreach series launches to bolster the financial services industry’s fight against financial crime


The Government of the Virgin Islands in partnership with the BVI Association of Compliance Officers, the BVI Association of Registered Agents and BVI Finance have launched a series of outreach sessions for the financial services industry under the theme ‘Collaboration & Commitment: Advancing Financial Services in the Virgin Islands’. These sessions bring together senior representatives of the Virgin Islands Government, the Financial Services Commission, the Financial Investigation Agency and the Attorney General’s Chambers, as well as the private sector, and aim to showcase the jurisdiction’s commitment to combating financial crime and address recommendations highlighted in its recent Caribbean Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation Report.
This first session in the outreach series, held on 13th June, 2024, focused on sanctions compliance, recording and submitting Suspicious Transaction Reports and obligations around identifying and verifying beneficial owners; all themes that are critical for combatting illicit financial activity. More than 200 businesses from various industries attended, engaging in a lively discussion and exchanging valuable information. A key takeaway was learning how to better identify and address potential illegitimate activities.
Opening the session, Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Labour and Trade, Hon. Lorna Smith, OBE said that “there is no room in the Virgin Islands for illicit activity” and reinforced the critical role the private sector plays in supporting the Virgin Islands to protect its business sector and in meeting the recommendations contained in the Mutual Evaluation Report. Addressing the room, Hon. Smith added: “Money laundering, terrorism financing, proliferation financing and related crimes undermine the financial sector and the broader economy. If the system in one country fails, it will have adverse repercussions across the globe and criminals are always looking for a way to take advantage. We all have a duty to ensure this does not happen”.
Setting the stage for the series, Ms. Alva McCall, Deputy Director of the AML/CFT Unit at the BVI Financial Services Commission led a session on the Mutual Evaluation process. Ms. McCall reiterated the measures being taken by the Virgin Islands to address the recommendations in the report, which includes increasing outreach to assist the industry with compliance. She went on to set out expectations of the private sector with guidance on what they can do to address the requirements.  
The session on Sanctions Compliance, by Ms. Kisha Frett, the newly appointed Sanctions Coordinator in the Attorney General’s Chambers, supported by Ms. Justine Plenkiewicz, Regulatory Compliance at Claritas addressed increasing the effectiveness of targeted financial sanctions and explained the reporting obligations to enable greater compliance. While the session on Suspicious Transactions Reporting by Ms. Princess London, Analyst, Financial Investigation Agency focused on how to identify risks and the dos and don’ts of reporting.
The final session of the day by Mrs. Tashel Martin-Jackson, Deputy Director, Compliance Inspection Unit at the BVI Financial Services Commission discussed Beneficial Ownership Obligations. Mrs. Martin-Jackson, among other things provided case study examples of beneficial ownership structures, explained common deficiencies in identifying a beneficial owner and how to address such challenges.
Commenting on the series of outreach sessions, Mrs. T’sa James-Hodge, Chair of the BVI Association of Compliance Officers, said: “We’re honoured to support this Virgin Islands Government’s initiative. This event marks a significant step in fortifying our financial services sector through unified efforts between the private and public sector. Working together is crucial for enhancing our collective vigilance, sharing vital information and developing robust strategies to combat AML/CFT threats.  Let us continue to build on this partnership, ensuring that the Virgin Islands remains a leading example of excellence and resilience in financial services.”

The next session in the Collaboration and Commitment outreach series is scheduled for early October 2024.