The initial shock and fear of what the United Kingdom proposed public registry would do to the financial services sector has been lessened now that the main financial services clients are undisturbed by the impending industry change.
Ensuring and strengthening the Territory’s foothold as the jurisdiction of choice for Asian financial services needs was Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith main priority following the passage of the highly controversial amendment in the United Kingdom Parliament for an Order in Council to impose public registers of beneficial ownership by 2020. It was in this vein that the Premier chose the Asia tour instead of UK meetings which had conflicting dates.
Now that he has returned from his various Asian stops, Hon. Smith indicated that there is more than a silver lining behind this threatening storm. The BVI Leader told reporters on 21 June that the public registry requirement was not a concern to the Asia market.
In fact, the Premier said the matter appeared insignificant as it was not even mentioned: “From my visit to China the level of interest in the use of BVI structures is as high as it has ever been. In fact, I would say it has probably increased and so that is important. There was not a lot of discussions about the 2020.”
Hon. Smith explained that the response was not nonchalance but rather trust that the BVI was going to rise above this situation: “We have had challenges in the financial services sector over the years…these were addressed and so I am sure that the people who use our structures in China are confident the BVI will do what is necessary to make sure that the financial services continue to do well,” the Minister for Finance stated.
The Premier further told reporters that he is not as worried about the 2020 public registers deadline and what it would mean for the Territory’s financial services sector: “Not at this point. It is some time away, and we have to look at it and we have to have discussions with the British government and we have to do what is necessary to make sure the business continue,” he said.