Senior officials in the British Virgin Islands, reeling from the imminent passage, by the British Parliament, of legislation that will require all Caribbean Overseas Territories to publicly disclose the names of beneficial owners of all their corporations, are asking that the UK reconsider, and warning that major local financial problems will occur if the BVI must give up corporate secrecy.
Given that BVI companies have been the one corporate tool most favoured by the world's criminals, to hide illicit assets, and by some of the biggest tax cheats, we trust that the BVI plea falls on deaf ears in London. Whether it is the law firm of Mossack & Fonseca, Cayman Islands corporate formation professionals, Hong Kong tax evasion facilitators, everyone has been availing themselves of BVI companies for decades. It is high time for this to stop, especially in the wake of increased global awareness, and disapproval, of corporate secrecy, in the aftermath of the Panama and Paradise Papers scandals.
This means that BVI will now have to develop non-polluting small industry, enlarge its tourism sector, and create jobs in other fields because once you remove the hurdles to the identification of beneficial owners of BVI companies, it is expected that most of the corporate formation business will abruptly relocate elsewhere. BVI officials should have thought of that twenty years ago.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant