Press release 30th Sep 2020

British Virgin Islands join UK overseas jurisdictions in public company ownership commitment

September 30th 2020, London -  Transparency International UK welcome the announcement made last week by the Government of the British Virgin Islands that they would be opening their company ownership register to the public. 

Andrew Fahie, the Premier of the British Virgin Islands, speaking to the House of Assembly stated the territory would adopt a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership for companies, in line with international standards by 2023.The British Virgin Islands join the rest of the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies in announcing their commitment to transparent company ownership. 

The secrecy offered by companies registered in the British Virgin Islands has long been used by the corrupt to hide their identities and their sources of wealth. Research by Transparency International UK has found 1,107 British Virgin Islands companies involved in 213 corruption cases amounting to hundreds of billions of pounds worth of funds diverted by rigged procurement, bribery, embezzlement and the unlawful acquisition of state assets. 

The UK Government should now publish a detailed timeline to ensure all of its overseas jurisdictions implement registers in a timely manner. The information on these registers should be accurate, free to access and easy to analyse.  

Rachel Davies Teka, Head of Advocacy for Transparency International UK, said:

“We welcome this announcement from the British Virgin Islands to publish who really owns companies registered there. For too long the secrecy offered by the British Virgin Islands has been used by criminals around the world to hide their identities, their assets and illicit activity. 

It is now important that the UK Government sets out a clear timeline for the introduction of public registers in all of its overseas jurisdictions to ensure timely implementation. It is vital that the information on these registers is accurate, free to use and made available for full analysis. This would strike a major blow to the corrupt around the world, with an ever diminishing number of places to hide their dirty money.”