BY CONNOR STEENS
Due to recent amendments to the BVI Business Companies Act 2004 (the Act), the names of all British Virgin Islands company directors will be made available, from 1 January 2023, to users registered on the BVI Financial Services Commission’s (FSC) online information network, VIRRGIN.
Searches are likely incur an additional cost and will be required to be run against a company name rather than that of a director. Available information will not include the address or date of birth of the director, and former directors will not be published. The information will be extracted by the FSC from registers kept on file, therefore requiring entities to keep registers up to date and compliant.
Further amendments to the Act look to provide frameworks by which the BVI may introduce a public register for persons with significant control. While the BVI has made previous commitments to introduce such a register by 2023, there are no changes expected on 1 January. The amendments provide that the BVI Government may specify requirements for a register of this calibre in the future, including restrictions or exemptions for access to personal data.
Additional amendments specify that on top of existing record keeping obligations, BVI companies that do not pay tax within the BVI and specific BVI regulated entities will be required to provide annual financial statements to their registered agent. The annual return will be required to be filed within nine months of the entity’s end of financial year, with the registered agent being obligated to inform the FSC if the annual return has not been received within 30 days of the deadline. This information will not be publicly available.
BVI is one of a number of jurisdictions which is due to introduce, or has already introduced, publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership which apply to companies and/or trusts. Neither the Cook Islands nor Nevis governments have announced any plans to do so, and each of those jurisdictions continues to maintain stringent privacy laws prohibiting the publication of such information except in limited circumstances.