The British Virgin Islands is by far the most popular jurisdiction in the world for international business companies, but as the landscape for financial services changes, the BVI has had to adapt its strategy.
For many years the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has been the offshore jurisdiction of choice and indeed still has more active companies than any other. The popularity of the BVI Business Company came about for many reasons; they were quick and simple to incorporate, they were relatively cost effective and the regulatory regime was light touch.
However, times are changing in the global arena and the BVI has had to adapt its strategy. The first two points above still stand, but the third is an area in which they have had to change, as the landscape for financial services starts to look very different across the world. There is a push for greater transparency with various initiatives from the OECD, through US and UK FATCA, automatic exchange of information and eventually the Common Reporting Standard (CRS). There might be some short term pain for the jurisdiction, but ultimately they would end up losing more business if they failed to comply.
So what are the changes? There will be a requirement to collect details of the beneficial ownership of companies which will be held in the territory but will not be publicly available.
The decision to implement financial reforms in the BVI looks to be a pragmatic one. As we move ever further into the 21st Century the jurisdiction will place itself on a level playing field with the rest of the offshore world and will undoubtedly continue to be an attractive jurisdiction in which to incorporate.
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