The British Virgin Islands has announced amendments to its anti-money laundering regime in order to ensure continued compliance with the developing international standards on transparency and anti-money laundering regimes. Amendments to the legislation were recently published (ie, the Anti-money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Code of Practice and the Anti-money Laundering (Amendment) Regulations) and the proposed changes took effect on January 1 2016. The changes have the most impact on the eligible introducer regime – in particular, where a BVI-registered agent relies on third-party introducers to obtain and verify the identity of the client.

In short, the changes require certain beneficial ownership information to be held and kept up to date by registered agents in the British Virgin Islands, a process which has been labelled the 'onshoring of beneficial ownership information'. However, the eligible introducer arrangements will continue to allow detailed customer due diligence materials (eg, copy passports) to be held by third-party introducers, provided they are made available on request and without delay.

From January 1 2016 registered agents are required to obtain and to retain the following beneficial owner information for all new companies registered in the British Virgin Islands:

  • name;
  • date of birth;
  • residential address; and
  • nationality.

The requirement will also apply to existing companies, but there will be a 12-month transitional period concluding on December 31 2016 during which the information must be provided to the registered agent.

A further change to be implemented as part of the BVI's evaluation of the Revised Financial Action Task Force Recommendations is a requirement for BVI companies to file their directors' details with the Registry of Corporate Affairs. The details will not be available to the public, unless – as is the case now – the company elects for the filing to be public. Again, this change took effect from January 1 2016 for new companies and there will be a 12-month transitional period for existing companies.

For further information on this topic please contact Ross Munro at Harney Westwood & Riegels by telephone (+1 284 494 2233) or email (ross.munro@harneys.com). The Harney Westwood & Riegels website can be accessed at www.harneys.com.

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