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2017.06.27 - BVI - A law on centralized register of beneficiaries comes into force.

 

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) have adopted a new law Virgin Islands Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System Act 2017, which defines that as of 30 June 2017, BVI introduces a centralized register of beneficial owners of the companies registered in BVI.

The functioning of the centralised register is technologically based on an electronic platform named Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System (BOSS), which provides that a designated person in BVI is granted with a centralized access to a certain part of the databases maintained by registered agents, and specifically - to the information on beneficial owners of the companies registered in BVI. Accordingly, until 30 June 2017, in order to provide the access to this information within limits of BOSS platform, all BVI registered agents must ensure the availability of the required information in their databases in relation to companies for whom they act as registered agents..

The platform provides access to the following information about the beneficial owner of a company: name, residential address, date of birth and nationality.

The system allows the user to perform a search either by a company name or by name of a particular natural person who may be the owner of a company or companies in BVI.

The designated person in BVI, responsible for information searches in BOSS platform, is appointed by the Minister of Finance of BVI. The designated person performs the search on basis of a request from competent authority of BVI, particularly Financial Investigation Agency, Financial Services Commission, etc.

In regard to international queries, the search must be performed on request of competent authorities of the United Kingdom, in accordance with the treaty on Exchange of Notes between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Virgin Islands signed on 8 April 2016.

If BVI in the future should sign similar agreements with other countries, the search will be also made on request of competent authorities of the respective country.

The response on request of a competent authority must be prepared by a designated person within 15 days, but in case of query which is treated as urgent within 1 hour.

Any company incorporated in BVI must notify its registered agent about the data of the beneficial owner not later than in 15 days after the particular person became the owner of the company. Clause 9 (6) of Virgin Islands Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System Act 2017 determines that in case of violation of the above requirement the liable person shall be penalized by a fine in the amount up to 250.000 USD or by the imprisonment up to 5 years, or both of the above.

Comment by INTERNATIONAL OVERSEAS SERVICES:

By elaborating and implementing the electronic platform for centralized access to information on beneficial owners, BVI has proven its status as one of the most technologically advanced jurisdictions with highly developed electronic communications background. At the same time, implementation of the BOSS platform does not cause any important changes to the category of information exchange in relation to beneficial owners of companies registered in BVI. Similar as previously, the information is available on request, however the new technologies have made the process of acquisition of information faster and technically more advanced.

The main innovation is the possibility to request a search not only by the company name, but also by the beneficiary name (i.e. - it is possible to search for all the companies owned by a particular beneficiary).

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