The Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System or BOSSs is a superior system in combating money laundering, according to Oliver Cooper, Policy Lead at Stikeman Elliott and Counsel, IFC Forum.
He made those comments at Wednesday’s BVI Finance Breakfast Forum titled, “All In, Now What?”, and outlined the next steps for public registers since the commitment of the crown dependencies and overseas territories like BVI.
Mr. Cooper’s presentation covered the “Hodge-Mitchell” clause and UK legislation, in addition to the soon-to-be-published Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) report.
The “Hodge-Mitchell” clause is an amendment to the UK’s 2019 Financial Services Bill which requires an ‘Order in Council’ to be laid before Parliament by early 2021. The order must be approved by both the House of Commons and House of Lords within 28 days, otherwise it ceases effect.
Mr. Cooper articulated that having the order ‘laid before’ Parliament is just one of five stages before getting it legislated. The other four stages would involve an order being ‘tabled’, ‘selected’, ‘approved’ and subsequently ‘made’. He also noted that to date, no overseas territory has a publicly accessible register.
Referencing the RUSI report, which is a study about the effectiveness of public registers in different territories, Mr. Cooper said it is “very likely”, based on experts in the field, that public registers will not be recommended as being helpful to combating money laundering and threats to national security.
Regarding the EU Member States’ non-adoption of the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive or AMLD5, Mr. Cooper highlighted that 17 of EU’s 27 member states failed to “transpose” or implement the directive.
To this end, he said, “In reference to BVI, by tying the commitment [to public registers] to the EU’s non-adoption of AMLD5, BVI is ensuring that it’s not going further unnecessarily, than the rest of the world does, or going further than what the EU has done.”
Mr. Cooper explained that the intention of AMLD5 is to allow people to find out who controls particular companies, and not to identify all the companies controlled by a particular person, noting that some persons were concerned about “reverse searching”.
He concluded his presentation by stating, “Because its standards are in line with international best practice, BVI is to a great extent, still is the master of its own destiny.”