Though three months have elapsed since Gerard Farara and a team of international attorneys were hired to provide counsel to the BVI on the controversial public registers policy, local government has still not decided whether it will go to legal war with the United Kingdom on the matter.
The BVI has until December 2020 to implement these public registers of beneficial ownership. But, according to Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, it is still early days yet.
“We do have the time,” the Premier told journalists while also stating that government must be cautious in how it decides.
“Let me put it this way: Sometimes it’s not best to rush into things. One has to carefully consider and determine what is the next course of action,” he said.
The underlying principle behind these deliberations is to make a decision that will “ensure the economic survival and continuing prosperity of the BVI,” the Premier said.
“Whether that means having discussions which would lead to an outcome that is agreeable to the BVI or it means a legal challenge, that is something we are looking into seriously,” he told journalists at a press conference last week.
Farara has met with int’l attorneys
Dr Smith then confirmed that the team of lawyers his government hired has commenced discussions on the subject.
Farara – a Queen’s Counsel and former Acting High Court Judge in the BVI – is government’s local representative on that team.
“He has been meeting with my team of people,” the Premier said.
The UK has threatened to impose what is known as an Order in Council if the BVI fails to implement the said public registers by the end of the year 2020.
Effectively, an Order in Council is a forceful command made in the name of Her Majesty the Queen. Failure to comply with that command can result in the UK exerting diplomatic pressure on the BVI.
What are public registers, what do they mean?
Imposing public registers is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act.
These registers mean the BVI and other Overseas Territories are required to publicise the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in those jurisdictions.
Effectively, beneficial ownership is a legal term whereby 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.
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