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British Virgin Islands Introduces New Law To Reduce Banking Secrecy

Mandy Robinson, Tax-news.com, London

24 November 2000


The British Virgin Islands has announced plans to relax its banking secrecy laws with the introduction of a new piece of legislation which will take effect from next month. Under the new law all persons responsible for establishing international business companies (IBCs) will be required to keep records to identify clients and share the information with regulators upon request.

The law will also apply to individuals who set up companies such as offshore banks and other financial organizations thus placing them under more intense scrutiny than more established corporations that apply for such status.

Those individuals who register more than one offshore company in the British Caribbean territory will be required to maintain a register of all inquiries made by the government and law enforcement authorities conducting money- laundering investigations.

No doubt the new law will be welcomed by the British Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office which recently commissioned a report by consulting firm KPMG on a number of the UK's Caribbean Dependent Territories including the BVI. The document's conclusions included a recommendation that the British Virgin Islands government bring its regulations covering the offshore banking industry into line with other major offshore financial centres because its existing rules fell short of international standards.

The new law has in fact been in the wings for some time. Attorney-General Cherlo Jallow said that the law was agreed by government a year earlier, but he could not explain why it was not gazetted until this October. Perhaps they just forgot?

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