Section 54A of the BVI Financial Services Commission Act (theFSC Act) has been amended, under the terms of the Financial Services Commission (Amendment) Act 2021, to enhance whistle-blower requirements on BVI registered agents and similar BVI-based functionaries (collectivelyBVI agents).
The revised section 54A came into force as of 19 July 2021. It is imperative that all BVI agents understand the full extent of the revised obligations under the new rule.
In summary terms where a BVI agent knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that a BVI licensee or "other person" on its books has committed a breach or offence under BVI financial services legislation, then the BVI agent must notify the BVI Financial Services Commission in writing about it within a reasonable time. Failure to notify may amount to a criminal offence.
Importantly, the requirement does not apply to legal counsel based in the BVI.
The main difference between the above and the previous incarnation of the whistle blower requirement under section 54A is that:
- The requirement has been extended from covering only BVI licensees (brokers, banks, and other similar regulated institutions) to additionally covering "other persons" which includes pretty much all BVI companies serviced by BVI agents
- The grounds on which a waiver of penalties may occur is as set out in section 54B of the FSC Act (please see our previous blog post on that here)
It should also be recalled that the definition of BVI financial services legislation is broad under the regime and covers not only the BVI financial services regime per se, but additionally the companies law regime as set out principally in the BVI Business Companies Act 2004.
BVI agents should therefore consider their internal policies, procedures, systems and controls with the above in mind and make the necessary adjustments in order to appropriately mitigate their risks.