“The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has continued to take steps towards increasing the level of its transparency as well as enhance international cooperation capabilities and efficiency,” Leon Wheatley, Asia Representative of the BVI’s Financial Services Commission, told the 300 plus attendees at the Companies Registry’s Corporate Governance Roundtable, held at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong.
The BVI operates and maintains a well-regulated financial services system, which is committed to transparency, integrity and proper regulation, according to international standard setters such as the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which have made periodic assessments of the jurisdiction. As a result, the BVI has been placed “among the most compliant jurisdictions globally,” said the BVI regulator.
During the Panama Papers episode, Mr. Wheatley continued, many of the media outlets covering the story were surprised to learn that the BVI has received favourable reviews by respected international bodies such as those mentioned above, and that the BVI has a documented history of early adoption of a number of global initiatives. Essentially, the reporters uncovered what many within the industry had long known – that the BVI has been a well-regulated jurisdiction for financial services.
Mr. Wheatley noted that at present, the information the public can obtain about a BVI company includes the memorandum and articles of association, certificate of incorporation, name change certificates and registers the companies may elect to file, such as the register of charges. Information that is not publicly available includes the register of directors, the register of members, beneficial ownership information and resolutions/minutes.
Last year the BVI embarked on a project to have all BVI companies file their register of directors with the Registry of Corporate Affairs. This was done with a view to ensure compliance with FATF recommendations. As mentioned, these files are not publicly available; however, they may be accessed by a competent authority.
Under the BVI’s legacy system, corporate services providers for years were required to seek licencing to operate in the BVI. This legal requirement does not exist in many jurisdictions, and affords the BVI the opportunity to assess entities during the application phase, conduct desk based monitoring following licencing, and conduct onsite inspections. In addition to placing increased focus on the testing of IT systems during the conduct of onsite compliance inspections, the BVI is currently considering the possible implementation of legislation that would introduce minimum standards for data security for licenced corporate service providers.
“In order to facilitate all of the above, corporate registries, government agencies, corporate service providers and the wider industry will have to devote considerable resources and time towards meeting these standards,” Mr. Wheatley concluded. “But I do think the end result will be a more compliant industry, a standard and goal the BVI has always played its part in striving to achieve in the global marketplace.”
About BVI Finance
BVI Finance is the voice of the British Virgin Islands’ financial services industry; marketing and promoting its products and services, as well as managing and maintaining its excellent reputation as a premier offshore financial centre. Established in 2002 as the BVI International Finance Centre, BVI Finance was re-branded in 2015. The BVI has established itself as the leading provider of offshore financial services, not only due to its best-in-class innovative regulatory regime and business-friendly environment, but also through BVI Finance’s presence at conferences and trade events in our core and emerging markets, and support in maintaining a strong relationship with key stakeholders both locally and internationally. To retain the jurisdiction’s competiveness, BVI Finance partners with local and international practitioners, media outlets and investors in emerging and traditional markets. Read more at: http://bvifinance.vg/About-Us/Who-We-Are
About BVI House Asia
BVI House Asia is the representative office of the Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in Asia Pacific. Based in Hong Kong, BVI House Asia was established in September 2013 to support and expand the strong relationship that the BVI has enjoyed with the Asia Pacific region for over 25 years. With a focus on financial services, the BVI provides a wide range of services to Asian businesses, such as asset protection, property holding, financial management, trading, copyrighting, bespoke trust services and investment business. The BVI is among the largest corporate registers in the world and is lauded for its efficient time to market, competitive incorporation fees, and strong and innovative legal system. Drawing on its deep experience in the region and mature infrastructure in Asia, BVI House Asia is committed to building effective, trusted and responsible relationships with its clients, business partners and vested third parties.
For more information about BVI House Asia, please visit: www.bvihouseasia.com.hk.