On Friday 30 June the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search system (BOSSs) will go live and stakeholders of the financial services sector of the British Virgin Islands are confident that with its international information sharing responsibility this system adequately balances the Territory’s clients’ privacy expectations.
BOSSs is a technology-enabled searchable portal which facilitates the sharing and searching of BVI beneficial ownership information. The portal can be accessed by competent authorities in the BVI and the UK. During this week corporate service providers here in the Territory were required to upload the beneficial ownership information of their clients to BOSSs.
The subject of beneficial ownership – which is revealing of the substantive owner/s of a BVI company has been a matter of concern here in the Territory with many worried that it can adversely affect the financial services industry.
Last year when the push to implement some form of beneficial ownership information exchange was in high gear persons in the community stressed that BVI’s financial services clients prize the fact that their information is kept private and here and it was opined that the publishing of such information may cause a drop in business for the BVI
Days before the launch of BOSS members of BVI Finance assured that the portal is a positive for the BVI. Such assurance was provided by BDO’s Deputy Managing Director, Ryan Geluk during a press briefing that was held on 21 June to launch the Capital Economics report.
In addressing the privacy factor as it relates to BOSS Mr. Geluk said: “Privacy is a human right — every individual has a right to his\her own privacy so that’s where the first element really comes into play. The BVI holds the level, its drive towards privacy very highly, but at the same sense when it comes to information request the thing I want to stress is this is not a public system.”
In further explaining how BOSS would be used Mr. Geluk noted: “It is not accessible by the international public. This is a system that allows us to exchange information much more efficiently much more effectively upon a valid request from a foreign competent authority. What was true two years ago is still true now — when a foreign competent authority requests information with a valid request we will honor that request and provide them with the beneficial ownership information.”
“Whatever information they’re requesting within the laws of the BVI that we already have so this system allows us to do it more efficiently but it doesn’t change the process which has already been around for a number of years. It is not necessarily a change in how we’re doing business, it just means that we’re doing it much more efficiently and effectively,” he added.
This week Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith lauded the implementation of BOSS. The BVI Leader said: “Through its electronic search engine, BOSSs will ensure there is even greater rigor in our systems and processes relating to beneficial ownership information.”
“Through its use of technology BOSSs perfectly blends the principles of privacy and security and is entirely fit for purpose. Working with BDO, we have developed a world class platform that will benefit all stakeholders, including corporate service providers, company owners and law enforcement agencies. I would like to express my appreciation to the private sector in the BVI for their support and partnership in making this initiative a success,” the BVI Leader added.