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Where’s the evidence? No proof public registers will harm BVI

Lord Tariq Ahmad. (BVI News photo)

The United Kingdom has said it is still not convinced there will be any major economic fallouts associated with implementing public registers of company beneficial ownership in the British Virgin Islands.

Local financial services professionals listed some of their feared fallouts when they met this week with the UK minister responsible for Overseas Territories, Lord Tariq Ahmad.

They cited fears of public registers causing businesses to flee to other less-regulated jurisdictions that do not have public register laws.

While commenting on his discussions with the local industry, Lord Ahmad invited them to present evidence of these fallouts.

“I have not yet seen some anecdotal evidence or there hasn’t been this suggested major flight of assets, for example, from the BVI. Indeed, when you look at some of the statistics, you’ve actually seen jurisdictions such as Cayman and the British Virgin Islands actually attract a greater number of accounts,” said Lord Ahmad.

He continued: “This isn’t a level playing field, I accept that principle. But from an international perspective, what I can talk about is what the UK government will be doing. It is our view that public registers should be an international standard and we’ll be using international fora wherever we may be to ensure that objective is also pursued.”

Lord Ahmad’s invitation for the BVI to present evidence of the fallouts of public registers comes on the heels of a study that projected the BVI will experience more than $2,000 job loses because of these registers.

British research company Capital Economics said these job losses in the local financial services sector would happen over the next 10 years.

Findings of the study also predict that implementing public registers would shrink the fiscal value of the sector by roughly $250 million.

About public registers:

Public registers are an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act. The Act is forcing the BVI and other British Overseas Territories to implement what are known as public registers of company beneficial ownership. These registers mean the BVI is required to publicise the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in the territory.

Effectively, beneficial ownership is a legal term where specific property rights belong to a person even though the legal title of the property is in another person’s name.

Publicising the names of these beneficial owners could discourage them from doing business with the BVI as it relates to financial services.

Notably, the UK is imposing the law to tackle financial crimes such as tax evasion. A number of international authorities have claimed the BVI is one of the breeding grounds for financial crimes. The territory has been described as a tax haven which has been associated with financial scandals such as the Panama Papers leak back in 2016.

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15 Comments

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  1. Not2Sure says:

    Please. How does this man expect us to take him seriously if he displays complete ignorance in relation to our local economy and key industry sectors.

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    • Joseph says:

      The Subtle Message from him and the UK Government is either “Do it” to your Economic Detriment or “Pursue Independence” and do your own thing!

      The UK–unlike the USA–is tired of the business of Colonialism.

      But some of us cannot read between the lines!

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  2. LOL says:

    where is bishop and his side kick/thing???

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  3. Sam the man says:

    Took the “No Direction party” a few weeks to produce a report/study that claims that the BVI will suffer by the tune of $250m when public registers are introduced ( BS ) …. yet the Pier Park audit report into the gross mismanagement of finances still hasn’t been issued after over 2 years! says it all….they can do what they really want to and just get away with everything else – but we let them get away with it!…would be nice if the Premier actually produced some audited annual reports for the past 6 plus years or so – no doubt that’s awaiting a backlog of unanswered queries that conveniently prevent him making them public – We need a mindset change badly….nobody not even M in the NDP gives me any confidence whatsoever they have a clue what they are doing….

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  4. Register says:

    Register this, register that. Business is going to go on. The dirty ones will leave because they have much to hide and the clean ones will stay. My thought is that the good outweighs the bad

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  5. Well sah says:

    This man seems to be the UK version of the ndp

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  6. Bring the Brits says:

    The legal industry has been living high on the hog charging legal fees to these corporations at 3-4 times what those fees would be in the US. The only reason is to hide dirty money. No other reason to have a corporation in the BVI. This industry is over. Start growing sugar cane and fishing. The BVI economy is doomed and so are the people. Hurricane Irma started the downfall and now the racism and greed of the citizens will do the rest.

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  7. LOL! says:

    “I have not yet seen some anecdotal evidence or there hasn’t been this suggested major flight of assets, for example, from the BVI. Indeed, when you look at some of the statistics, you’ve actually seen jurisdictions such as Cayman and the British Virgin Islands actually attract a greater number of accounts,” said Lord Ahmad.

    The guy just urinated on us and told us it’s raining!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agree.

      How can there be “anecdotal evidence” when the implementation of “public registers” has yet to occur in the various Overseas British Territories or even in tax havens within the UK itself?

      The UK message to the BVI–subtly–is to pursue Independence, but many of us refuse to listen!

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    • Joseph says:

      It is called “British Diplomacy.” Sparrow sang a neat song about that during the 1960’s.

  8. Gerance P. says:

    More Government red tape and regulations. Yea right, it’s good for us. Just like taxes. A little bit won’t hurt. It’s good.. it’s good I tell you… Says the regulators.

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