By Desiree Smith
ROAD TOWN, BVI -- Premier and Minister of Finance Dr Orlando Smith has welcomed the statement made by British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday in the House of Commons in which he commended the British Virgin Islands and other Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies for enhancing cooperation with United Kingdom law enforcement authorities in relation to beneficial ownership and for previous commitments made on international tax information exchange.
He also called on others to celebrate their success as financial centres that are part of the British family.
The prime minister further commended the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies during the debate, saying to potential critics that, instead of attacking them, they should be praising them and thanking them for what they have done.
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr Orlando Smith
Smith said, “I welcome the comments made by the prime minister during the debate yesterday. As he made clear on several occasions, the commitments we and our colleagues in other Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have made will be far in advance of many other countries, including the US. The new agreement between the UK and the British Virgin Islands will improve on existing exchange of information processes on beneficial ownership and ensure that information is shared between UK and British Virgin Islands law enforcement authorities quickly and efficiently. This builds on our strong partnership with the UK and further enhances our relationship.”
Smith also welcomed the prime minister’s commendation as it reinforces the BVI’s long-standing commitment to international standards on tax and transparency and to maintaining its robust regulatory regime.
Smith announced earlier on Friday that the UK and BVI agreed to sign an exchange of notes on beneficial ownership between the two jurisdictions.
The exchange of notes sets out the mutual commitment of BVI and UK to exchange beneficial ownership information between law enforcement agencies for the prevention and detection of criminality. The notes are buttressed by protocols that set out the obligations and process for exchange of the information.
The agreement bolsters the BVI’s ongoing international cooperation with other jurisdictions around the world, particularly fellow members of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, and is complementary to the jurisdiction’s good standing in meeting international commitments on tax, transparency and anti-corruption under Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the United Nations (UN).