BVI News

Premier commits to ‘publicly accessible registers’ despite reservations

Premier Andrew Fahie

Premier Andrew Fahie has formally announced his commitment to implementing publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership for the British Virgin Islands.

Premier Fahie made the statement during Tuesday’s session in the House of Assembly where he said that despite his commitment, he still has a number of reservations on several of the UK’s existing policies which he believes need to be changed.

He said: “Your government commits to working in collaboration with Her Majesty’s Government towards a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership for companies, in line with international standards and best practices as they develop globally and, at least, as implemented by EU Member States by 2023 in furtherance of the EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5).”

“It is of paramount importance that your government emphasises that this commitment is made with all due regard to the protection of, and proportionate safeguards for, all rights secured under our territory’s constitution, and without prejudice to any interpretation of our constitution expounded by a court of law, whether in the past, pending, or in the future,” Fahie explained.

Penned a letter of concern to Minister for Overseas Territories

Premier Fahie also said he expressed his concerns to the UK Minister responsible for Sustainable Development and Overseas Territories, Baroness Elizabeth Sugg in a letter sent on September 17.

He said the letter specifically addressed concerns regarding some of the policies he believes infringes on the rule of law and human rights of businesses and people, and he highlighted the need for prudence and balance in the present proposed systems.

“There is need for concern that publicly accessible registers could be of more use to the prurient and ill-intentioned than those we seek to assist, and in the BVI we do not believe that outsourcing supervision of corporate ownership to the public is a sustainable or legitimate policy,” he stated.

“While it is a noble objective to seek the prosecution of terrorists, tax evaders and money launderers, the net that will be cast by the model of publicly accessible registers, as is being presently proposed, is disproportionate, since it can be used to breach the rights of the law-abiding and tax-paying individuals who are far greater in number than the targeted law-breakers,” Fahie added.

Innocent people could fall victim

The leader of government business further said innocent people could be deprived of their safety and enjoyment of their legitimate property as their family’s personal information will face exposure through the presently proposed publicly accessible registers.

He said it allows the information to be easily accessible by persons with ill intent such as kidnappers.

“The government of the Virgin Islands is firmly of the view that it must also be kept in mind that some of these innocent potential victims are children who are beneficiaries of trusts. Extreme care must also be taken to ensure that minors and other vulnerable categories of persons are not exposed to danger,” he explained.

Premier Fahie said he will provide a statement in the House of Assembly with a further update on the subject within 12 months of the AMLD5 Implementation Review which is scheduled for January 2022.

Fahie’s commitment comes weeks after Governor Augustus Jaspert had publicly stated that the premier’s absence of a decision on the BVI adopting public registers, could hurt the BVI.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

18 Comments

Disclaimer: BVI News and its affiliated companies are not responsible for the content of comments posted or for anything arising out of use of the comments below or other interaction among the users.

  1. People says:

    Premier I agree with you. This must be done with wisdom and with certain protection in the law to stop the wild goose chase by the UK.

    Like 33
    Dislike 7
  2. Reply says:

    He had no better option. Not surprised by this announcement. I expected it despite all the noise.

    It’s better to save what’s left of the financial industry rather than pick a non-winnable fight with the world’s financial powers.

    Now, what the government should be doing now is not only opening up their financial registrar publicly, but re-branding the financial services offered as competitive business incorporation services relative to others.

    The days of the rich and well connected using dark money to stash around the world in hidden offshore accounts is coming to an end.

    What end? Not certain as there will always be players willing to play in this game of hidden or evasive money. But certainly doing business as usual is becoming more difficult.

    Given we are living in a global economy, governments that do not comply with full transparency of financial transactions risk being black listed economically and financially, a prospect that will prove dire for the BVI, and one in which it cannot survive.

    Like 10
    Dislike 39
    • GTFOH says:

      WTF are you talking about. What dark money are you talking about? In the very early days of financial services that may have been an acceptable view point but the industry has long since evolved and with so much legislation locally and worldwide it would be difficult to use “dark money” You would be ignorant to think that everybody that is using financial services are doing so for money laundering. The same way it is hard (not impossible) for a criminal to put their money in a bank it is equally hard for them to open a company in the BVI.

      Like 8
      Dislike 1
      • Reply says:

        Some of you folks are willfully naive to believe that dark money has not been flowing into those offshore accounts.

        Do you guys really believe that all of those companies formed in the BVI are above board? Do you guys truly believe that the BVI is so special that people are running to incorporate their so called businesses here because it’s the best incorporation service they can find?

        Please, get real. Pretending that everything that occurs within the financial services industry is above board is willful ignorance.

        Ask yourself, why are these companies not incorporating their businesses in their own countries continents away on a tiny island? They have been doing for a desired purpose.

        They have been doing so because there was no transparency relative to ownership. As such they could get away with either not paying taxes in their home countries or hiding dark money.

        From it’s inception, the BVI financial services allowed companies to incorporate their businesses here without a physical presence. They built the industry on incorporation services, and collected a fee for it with little questions asked.

        A perfect vehicle for those with criminal mindsets to evade taxes or launder dark money. The lack of transparency is and was the attraction.

        Now that that lack of transparency is about to end, the attraction will be soon over.

        Time will bear out my argument. I don’t have to say another word beyond these few posts. The proof will be in the pudding.

        Keep your eyes on the number of companies incorporating in the BVI after those registrars go public. Expect a significant decline in those incorporation as soon as the lights get turn on.

        Like 7
        Dislike 6
        • Anonymous says:

          The BVI is just one jurisdiction. There are lots of other places that do similar services each is our competition. Just because ours isn’t performing well doesn’t mean that Caymans, Seychelles, Cyprus, Bahamas and other jurisdictions aren’t doing well.

          Like 2
          Dislike 1
  3. Well says:

    Well this will certainly end the financial sector. Offshore corporations were created to hide the beneficial ownership. Once it’s public there is no reason to have one. Better start teaching the Belongers to put a smile on their face and some courtesy in their demeanor. The tourist is all you have left and if you destroy that sector your doomed. The dream of being a cannabis global center is pie in the sky. Technology is beyond your capability. There is nothing to keep the Territory solvent.

    Like 10
    Dislike 23
    • Dancing Monkey w/ smile says:

      Our disadvantaged position to where we are today is an indication of our trajectory.

      “Technology is beyond your capability.”

      You smell of fear and racism.

  4. Goose cook says:

    Well look who kill the goose dat laid the golden Eggs

    Like 4
    Dislike 21
  5. Clearly says:

    This is a good move but plenty more work to do.

    Like 16
    Dislike 1
  6. @Reply says:

    Stringing along a few paragraphs doesnt make you smart. How about making all bank accounts public, would you like that? Would you like your account information publicly accessible? Also BVI is not a banking jurisdiction so not sure what dark money you are talking about. The money is stashed in the same places that are pretending to ‘fight’ money laundering etc. London/Delaware etc.

    Like 17
    Dislike 5
    • Reply says:

      Laughable. Keep believing what u want to believe. If it helps u thru your day, I say more power to u.

      By the way, u dont have the power to deminish my intellegence. You know nothing of me. People like u, I eat for breakfast
      🙂

      Like 1
      Dislike 6
  7. My take says:

    While I agree with this move by the Premier and what he is fighting for with the framework, I must say that the UK is bullying small island states.

    Like 51
    Dislike 3
  8. My view says:

    This can be done in a manner that protects the honest companies and avoid witch hunts. Good going Premier. Keep on it to get the framework correct to protect the innocent.

  9. FACTS says:

    The Premier is on the right track in making sure the framework adheres to the rule of law, respects Human Rights and that of children, the vulnerable and the innocent.

  10. Click says:

    @Reply
    I totally agree, all of the Russian dark money is been funneled through London, Delaware two of the biggest culprits Barclay’s and Dusche Bank, read the FinCen files.

  11. VI says:

    We will survive thrive and shine in the face of all those that harbor evil thoughts and designs.

  12. Decision march says:

    So what was all the marching about in 2018 Bishop Cline? Schups …

    • Delaying strategy says:

      More time and a level playing field. You have to understand leveraging strategy. Gives people more time to become familiar and better for our clients to know we fought for their confidentiality.

Leave a Comment

Shares