STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
DURING THE FOURTH SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION
OF THE THIRD HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
MONDAY, 2ND NOVEMBER, 2015
The Amendments to the BVI Business Companies Act, 2004
Madam Speaker, with your kind permission, I will now make a brief statement regarding the amendments to the BVI Business Companies Act, 2004.
Later today, I will introduce the BVI Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2015.
This amendment is the result of months of consultation between my Government and industry stakeholders; a process which garnered substantial input from industry practitioners, as well as the Financial Services Commission and the Company Law Review Advisory Committee.
Madam Speaker, my Government has worked earnestly to strike a balance between adhering to international standards and supporting the needs of an industry that is so vital to our economy.
This amendment, I believe, has to a large extent, accomplished that.
While the Bill amends various sections of the BVIBC Act, there are three major issues that it addresses.
The first is the maintenance of records and underlying documentation, which has been transferred from the Mutual Legal Assistance (Tax Matters) Act, 2003.
The second is the mandatory requirement to file a register of directors with the Companies Registry, and the third, and perhaps most carefully reviewed, is the optional filing of a company’s register of members.
I must note however that information on both registers will only be made available to competent authorities in the execution of their duties as regulators, tax administrators or law enforcement agencies, or to other persons by Order of the Court.
Madam Speaker, it is no secret that the Overseas Territories are facing increased pressure to address the issue of access to beneficial ownership information.
The current Financial Action Task Force Standards, which every country must adhere to, provide different mechanisms for how this information may be maintained, and my Government has taken painstaking steps to ensure that the amendments to the BVIBC Act meet these standards, without placing our financial services industry in a disadvantageous position against other international finance centres.
Madam Speaker, whilst more details of the amendments will be provided when I present the Bill’s Objects and Reasons, I wish to reassure industry practitioners and their clients that this Government is focused on finding solutions that will not only meet international standards, but will help to safeguard the Territory’s business and maintain its competitive advantage.
It is my hope that the collaborative effort my Government has enjoyed with the local industry over the years will continue to allow us to do so, and I thank them for their ongoing support.
Thank you Madam Speaker.