The Virgin Islands and other overseas territories and Crown dependencies are united in their opposition to following the United Kingdom’s lead on creating public registers of the beneficial ownership, Premier Dr. Orlando Smith said Monday morning in the House of Assembly.

However, he added, the VI is planning alternative measures that he says will work just as well.

Dr. Smith explained that the “consensus” within the territory is that industry practitioners have “a high confidence in the jurisdiction’s existing beneficial ownership regime,” and that the VI’s “system achieves the same outcomes as a central register, using an equally effective mechanism.”

Still, he said, the territory will continue to improve its regulatory regime to meet international standards.

The next step in the evolution will be to “strengthen the existing corporate service provider model to meet the revised [Financial Action Task Force] standards with regard to beneficial ownership and address any weakness in the system,” Dr. Smith said.

He added that the issue of beneficial ownership is inextricably linked to preventing money laundering and terrorist financing.

On Oct. 22, Cabinet approved changes to the territory’s Anti-money Laundering Regulations, he explained. The new regime will address “third-party introducers” — companies or individuals that work as go-betweens for local financial services firms and the people who are creating business companies, trusts or other financial instruments, according to the premier.

“The regulations bring the territory in line with the FATF standards by outlining who may qualify to act as a third-party introducer,” Dr. Smith said, adding that they also make sure that “the responsibilities of both the intermediary and the service provider in relation to the collection and maintenance of customer information are clearly defined.”

See the Nov. 5, 2015 edition for full coverage.

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