BVI News

UK targets BVI on beneficial ownership register again

“… should public registers become the global standard, then BVI will comply” — Premier Smith

By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist

The British Virgin Islands is once again under pressure to reveal the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in the territory.

Beneficial owners are persons who enjoy the benefits of ownership in a company even though the title of the company is in another person’s name.

Roughly three months ago, the majority of UK parliamentarians voted against a public register that would reveal the names of beneficial owners in the BVI and other Overseas Territories.

The public register was part of the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. But, the UK Opposition has called for the bill to be amended.

Thersa May administration backs BVI

The Prime Minister Theresa May-led government is opposed to the amendment but Premier Dr D Orlando Smith fears they will be outnumbered when the amendment is put to a vote in the next few days.

“As a minority administration, there is no certainty that [the Prime Minister’s government] will prevail,” Dr Smith said while expressing resentment for the proposed amendment.

He was speaking in the House of Assembly on Thursday, April 26.

“We reject the idea that our democratically elected government should be superceded by the United Kingdom parliament, especially in an area which has been entrusted to the BVI people,” the Premier said.

“It will undermine the constitutional relationships between the BVI and the United Kingdom and indeed be a sad day for democracy,” he added.

Anti-money laundering systems already implemented

According to the UK, beneficial owners use their corporate anonymity to launder money and to evade paying taxes.

But, Premier Smith said BVI has systems in place to fight against these financial crimes.

He said the BVI Foreign Office is now engaging UK parliamentarians about the territory’s anti-money laundering and tax transparency strategies such as the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System, otherwise known as BOSS.

“[BOSS] puts BVI at the cutting edge of facilitating effective law enforcement against those who might seek to use our business companies for nefarious purposes,” the Premier said.

He said BOSS ensures “beneficial ownership information is directly and immediately available to BVI competent authorities”.

He continued: “The government will continue to make clear that should public registers become the global standard, then BVI will comply”.

The Premier believes the territory will lose its competitive edge as a financial services jurisdiction if it starts revealing the names of beneficial owners who decide to register their companies in the BVI.

The local financial service industry accounts for roughly 60 percent of government’s annual revenue and contributes significantly to the BVI’s gross domestic product.


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  1. knowledge is Power says:

    There appears a young breed in Parliament hell bent on creating circumstances as pretenses for invasion.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Labour Government is a socialists Goverment. liberalism is dangerous.

  3. Sam the man says:

    This is what I thought might happen – the enforced clean up of off shore financial services… It was bound to start one day…. Time to emigrate I think as when the Financial services declines and the tourism industry is on its knees what is left? Oh the main pillar – agriculture! Book your tickets soon!

  4. @Annonymous says:

    Ha! The UK government right now is the most right wing since before WWII and it is being pushed by an even more right by an arm of the party that is just plain extreme!
    UK people just want to know why their taxes revenue is so much smaller than it should be, and which politicians are hiding money that could be the result of dirty business. That’ s understandable, isn’t it?
    Unfortunately, tooting about how we’re the cleanest of all the dirty options doesn’t cut it with many people.

    • Hmmmm says:

      You are totally clueless if you think this has anything to do with taxes. Structuring your business affairs in a legal manner which may enable you to reduce your tax burden is not illegal and will never be illegal so that’s just rubbish. The entities that are used in Delaware, Nevada and London are involved in money laundering and other not-so-nice activities. Ask them how easy it is to set up one of those entities but yet they’re giving the BVI and others hell when we have our houses in order.

    • @@Annonymous says:

      Unfortunately BVI shot themselves in the foot with a badly managed press campaign post Irma. Their international bleating about UK support or lack of it led to a media education regime whereby the function of the territory in the tax avoidance process and what it means to individuals was clearly spelt out by the press. Tax payers in onshore jurisdictions now understand what they might be deprived of and are taking appropriate action by lobbying their politicians. Investment required in fishing line and spade.

    • Uncle Buck says:

      Actually the UK people want to make it harder for offshore companies to own property in the UK. Thats the point of the registry, aside from making it harder for criminal elements to hide money. But the desire to prevent foreign companies owning UK properties is perfectly reasonable and has nothing to do with right wing but everything to do with nationalism. The same nationalism embraced in the BVI, a “Country” that routinely rejects foreign investment, and is hell-bent on this idea that a Bvislanders should own every property and head every company on island.

  5. Uncle Buck says:

    Go get ’em I say. If someone is wealthy enough to purchase property in the UK through an offshore company then they are wealthy enough to pay taxes on those properties. The BVI will figure out a way to survive, offshore financial jurisdictions will always have a use, then there’s always the potential to be a millionaires playground, which it kind of is already. The future’s bright, if you work hard for a bright future.

  6. Wes says:

    The relevant Authourities can already search BOSS and investigate crimes. The purpose of the requested public register is therefore for the Press and members of the public to engage in voyeurism?

    I agree with Smith here that this is an affront to the constitution. However after the Development Authourity ACT it is obvious that our Government’s failure to behave as a proper steward over the last decade or so has left them as effective as a limp penis trying to have sex.

    Pardon the ‘figure of speech’ they are now impotent and unable to stand up against this or anything else thrown at them. Unfortunately us BVIslanders will be reduced to peasants and left with nothing more than a mess of pottage in the new gentrification of the BVI that will follow their catastrophic failures.

    Long live the parasitic political oligarchy! (said in a$$ sarcastic a tone as possible)

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