Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern - British Virgin Islands

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Report

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is a UK overseas territory. The economy depends greatly on tourism and the offshore financial sector. BVI is a well-established financial center offering accounting, banking, and legal services; captive insurance; company incorporations; mutual funds administration; trust formation; and shipping registration. The Financial Services Commission (FSC) is the sole supervisory authority responsible for the licensing and supervision of financial institutions under the relevant statutes. The FSC’s most recent statistical bulletin was published in March 2011. The bulletin noted there were 45,666 active companies, seven licensed banks, 216 other fiduciary companies, and 2,627 investment businesses registered with the FSC. The banking sector has assets valued at $2.4 billion as of September 2011. Exploitation of its offshore financial services, the unique share structure that does not require a statement of authorized capital, and the lack of mandatory filing of ownership information pose significant money laundering risks to the BVI.

Tourism accounts for 45 percent of the economy and employs the majority of the workforce; however, financial services contribute over half of government revenues. The BVI’s proximity to the U.S. Virgin Islands and the use of the U.S. dollar for its currency pose additional risk factors for money laundering. The BVI is a major target for drug traffickers, who use the area as a gateway to the United States. Drug trafficking in general is a serious problem.

For additional information focusing on terrorist financing, please refer to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism, which can be found at: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/

DO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ENGAGE IN CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS RELATED TO INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING THAT INCLUDE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF US CURRENCY; CURRENCY DERIVED FROM ILLEGAL SALES IN THE U.S.; OR ILLEGAL DRUG SALES THAT OTHERWISE SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT THE U.S.: YES

CRIMINALIZATION OF MONEY LAUNDERING:

“All serious crimes” approach or “list” approach to predicate crimes: All serious crimes

Are legal persons covered: criminally: YES civilly: YES

KNOW-YOUR-CUSTOMER (KYC) RULES:

Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs: Foreign: YES Domestic: YES

KYC covered entities: Banks; currency exchanges; charities and nonprofit associations; dealers in autos, yachts, and heavy machinery; dealers in precious metals and stones; leasing companies; real estate agents, lawyers, other independent legal advisers, and accountants

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS:

Number of STRs received and time frame: Not available

Number of CTRs received and time frame: 59: January - June 2012

STR covered entities: Banks; currency exchanges; charities and nonprofit associations; dealers in autos, yachts, and heavy machinery; dealers in precious metals and stones; leasing companies and money services institutions; real estate agents, lawyers, other independent legal advisers, and accountants

MONEY LAUNDERING CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS/CONVICTIONS:

Prosecutions: Not available

Convictions: 0

RECORDS EXCHANGE MECHANISM:

With U.S.: MLAT: YES Other mechanism: YES

With other governments/jurisdictions: YES

BVI is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), a FATF-style regional body. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found at: https://www.cfatf-gafic.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=327&Itemid=418&lang=en

ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES AND COMMENTS:

Earlier legislation strengthens due diligence requirements where a representative is acting on another person’s behalf, or when the customer is resident in another country, and extends regulation to money value transfer service operators. Although real estate agents, lawyers, other independent legal advisers, accountants, and dealers in precious metals and stones are covered by AML/CFT regulations, there appears to be no effective supervision to ensure compliance with AML/CFT requirements. The government should ensure requisite legislation and sufficient staffing resources are in place to address the continued lack of prosecutions.

In August 2012, the government increased the penalties and fines for breaches of the AML regime. Most maximum penalties were increased ten-fold with maximums now ranging from $250,000 - 500,000 when action is taken through the courts, as opposed to $25,000 - $40,000 previously. The FSC can now impose administrative fines up to $100,000.

The British Virgin Islands is a UK Caribbean overseas territory and cannot sign or ratify international conventions in its own right. Rather, the UK is responsible for the BVI’s international affairs and may arrange for the ratification of any convention to be extended to the BVI. The 1988 Drug Convention was extended to the BVI in 1995. The UN Convention against Corruption was extended to the BVI in 2006. The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime were extended to the BVI on May 17, 2012.