British Virgin Islands (BVI) to unmask secret company owners

For years financial crime experts, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have asserted that corporate and financial structures form the building blocks of hidden money trails, making it difficult for them to go after stolen assets, confiscate and return them if they are hidden behind the corporate veil.

Some of the most complex and high-profile types of criminal investigations such as the Airbus Corruption Scandal, the Anglo Leasing Scandal, the Alcoa World Alumina LLC settlement case and several others were all carried out through the use of British Virgin Islands anonymous companies. There is sufficient evidence to show that corporate vehicles are misused to conceal the proceeds of grand corruption, escape international sanctions and fund terrorist organization.

Ant-corruption and civil rights campaigners have been campaigning for policy makers and practitioners to address the lack of transparency on legal entities and other arrangements as they help facilitate financial crime.  Corrupt leaders use complex and opaque corporate structures to embezzle  public funds meant for schools, healthcare, and other socio-economic infrastructure in developing economies and hide them in the world’s financial centres and tax havens such as British Virgin Island (BVI).

Following these developments, several nations and organisations have committed, through the UN Convention against Corruption and international anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism standards, to improving the transparency of legal entities and other arrangements. Regulatory efforts of governments and international agencies, such as the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Guidance on Transparency and Beneficiary Ownership, have also been directed at stepping up efforts aimed at strengthening beneficial ownership transparency.

Anti-corruption campaigners hailed a victory for transparency and the fight against hidden movements of large illicit funds, when BVI committed itself to creating a publicly accessible register of company ownership by 2023.

The island joined the other overseas territories; Anguilla Bermuda, Cayman, Montserrat and Turks & Caicos in promising a public ownership register. Gibraltar is required to establish one under EU anti-money laundering directives. Click here to read the full story.

Contact us today if you need assistance on how to conduct sufficient and relevant due diligence on corporate vehicles/beneficial owner to meet your due diligence requirements. In case you would also like to train your operational CDD teams, compliance teams that handle KYC escalations and reviews on how to carry out deep dive investigation on corporates and individuals to make an informed decisions about who they do business with, we would be more than willing to assist you.

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