Stakeholders in the local financial services sector are said to be considering Crown Dependent countries such as the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey to relocate their businesses.
That’s according to Executive Director of BVI Finance, Lorna Smith.
Smith made the disclosure during a public forum at the Ritter Building last week.
“The impact of that decision (the United Kingdom’s public registers policy) … people are already saying: ‘Why don’t I move my business to a Crown Dependency – to the Isle of Man or to Jersey instead of the British Virgin Islands? Why don’t I move it now rather than waiting for 2020?” she said.
“So that’s a serious consideration and one which you really wonder whether the United Kingdom parliament thought of those kinds of consequences as a result of this decision.”
The public registers policy is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill that forces the BVI and other Overseas Territories (OT’s) to publicise the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in their respective countries.
The OT’s are required to comply by December 2020.
However, it is feared the policy will drive business from these Overseas Territories towards other less regulated competing jurisdictions.
Notably, Britain’s Crown Dependencies are not required to implement the controversial public registers.
Crown Dependencies are fierce competitors
According to the 2018 Financial Secrecy Index, which ranks countries based to secrecy and the magnitude of nefarious offshore financial activities, Crown Dependencies are said to be ‘fierce financial services competitors’ to jurisdictions such as the BVI.
While addressing members of the press last Thursday, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said he is not overly concerned about the looming 2020 deadline the BVI has to implement the public registers.
The BVI government continues to maintain that unless the public registers become a global standard, the BVI will not implement them.
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