The Beneficial Ownership Secure Search system (BOSSs) continues to place the Virgin Islands on the cutting edge of beneficial ownership information exchange with the capability of responding to requests in real time.
In updating the Territory on the Financial Services Industry on 14th July, Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie said that utilising the BOSS system platform has enabled the Virgin Islands to also rise to meet European Union standards on data collection with an efficiency and effectiveness that some of our competitors may envy.
In April 2016, the Government signed an Exchange of Notes Agreement with the United Kingdom (UK) Government. The portal can be accessed by competent authorities in the BVI and the UK. The system is built to ensure that the Territory can efficiently exchange that information in relation to the exchange of notes.
BOSSs is a cutting-edge electronic search engine that enables the relevant BVI Authorities to have a searchable database with information on BVI Companies and their beneficial owners. This system was pioneered in the Virgin Islands to facilitate the sharing and searching of BVI Beneficial Ownership information.
Premier Fahie expressed that the Government of the Virgin Islands wrote to the UK Government last week reiterating the Territory’s continued commitment to the exchange of beneficial ownership information with the UK under the Exchange of Notes on Beneficial Ownership signed in 2016.
“The Government of the Virgin Islands continues to be very pleased that UK law enforcement, including the National Crime Agency, continues to find this arrangement effective. The Virgin Islands, in this regard, communicated that this jurisdiction has been deemed largely compliant by the Financial Action Task Force,” Premier Fahie said.
He stated, “Beneficial Ownership information in the system will also be available to other authorities in the Virgin Islands to ensure that they are able to meet their international obligations. Importantly, the system will not be accessible by the public.”
He explained that his Government took the opportunity in the letter to highlight that the BVI continues to meet and adhere to the highest international standards as a responsible, cooperative and quality financial centre.
In regard to international tax, Premier said, “The Virgin Islands remains on the white-lists of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union.”
Premier further said that these accolades underscore the BVI's commitment to upholding the integrity of the global financial system and this Territory’s track record as a cooperative jurisdiction, which other International Finance Centres (IFCs) are seeking to emulate.
The Government of the Virgin Islands recognises that the continued success of our Financial Services industry requires that we continue to align ourselves with those and other standards as they emerge.
“Not to be overlooked, we are getting closer to significant milestones in the area of publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership. Your Government is continuing to take note of developments in this sphere.”
Premier said, “Against the backdrop of these developments, we are determined that any direction forward must be one that gives BVI the opportunity to do what is best for BVI and in a way that is best for BVI.”
The Government will take the informed and nuanced decisions required as circumstances develop, according to Premier Fahie.
The BOSSs platform was introduced in 2017 following the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System Act – since then, the BVI’s Financial Investigation Agency, the entity responsible for receiving requests for BOSSs, has responded to hundreds of requests for beneficial ownership information from UK law enforcement authorities. The system helps to enhance intelligence and investigate illicit financing, to name a few.