BVI affirms its approach to beneficial ownership registers relating to the ECJ’s decision
On 8 December 2023, the BVI Government published a press release indicating it's current position on the much discussed implementation of publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership (PARBOs).
The press release observes that all of the UK’s Overseas Territories (UKOT) and Crown Dependencies previously committed to the implementation of PARBOs on the basis of the EU Member States’ implementation of the EU’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (the Directive). However, following the decision of the European Court of Justice's (ECJ) decision in WM and Sovim SA v Luxembourg Business Registers of 22 November 2022, the international view has changed somewhat: where the ECJ’s decision affirmed privacy and data protection as fundamental rights which must be respected and appropriately weighed when providing such access.
The BVI, while itself is a UKOT, is not within the jurisdictional framework of the EU following Brexit. However, following the ECJ’s ruling and in light of the jurisprudence, the BVI’s approach will take into account the decision in an effort to minimise the risk of legal challenges on human rights grounds.
Government emphasised that “safeguarding of these fundamental human rights necessitates the application of a ‘legitimate interest test’ to determine access for those parties whose request for beneficial ownership information is genuinely aimed at preventing or combatting money laundering and terrorist financing.”
Government will continue to undertake the technical work of designing and building systems that deliver on its commitment to implement a PARBO consistent with the standards to be identified in the implementation of the Directive. This will be done in a way that ensures its human rights obligations are met.
Government will continue to engage the UK and other partners on evolving regional, international and global standards and best practices in the implementation of PARBOs.
The official Government press release can be found here.