BVI mulls whether to take on UK in public registers dispute

The British Virgin Islands’ government still has not decided if it will pursue legal action against the United Kingdom to contest the public registers policy.

The BVI has until December 2020 to implement the public registers of beneficial ownership. However, the local government is not in a hurry to take action.

“We do have the time,” the island’s premier, Orlando Smith told journalists while also stating that government must be cautious in how it decides, local media outlet BVINews reports.

“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 added.

Three months ago, the government hired a team of international attorneys to provide counsel on the public registers policy. Still, it has not decided whether it will go to legal war with the UK on the matter.

“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 added.

While the government mulls, British Virgin Islands (BVI) activist group Decision March Committee is considering engaging world leaders in the United Nations about the ongoing public registers saga, as reported by International Investment.

The public register policy is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act, which is forcing the BVI and other Overseas Territories to publicise the names of ‘secret’ owners of offshore companies registered in those jurisdictions.

The island fears that publicising the names of these beneficial owners could discourage them from doing business with the BVI as it relates to financial services.

Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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