The BVI Business Company is widely used globally as the core of many corporate financing investment, asset holding and private wealth structures. As one of the world's leading offshore corporate domiciles, efficiency and transparency are important tools necessary for the BVI to maintain its position as a market leader for corporate vehicles and services.
Key contributors to this continued success are two of the most innovative and efficient electronic financial services systems, namely the BVI Registry of Corporate Affairs' Virtual Integrated Registry Regulatory General Information Network or “VIRRGIN" and the "BOSSs" (Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System).
In 2006, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission (BVIFSC) launched an internet-based system, VIRRGIN, which allowed industry practitioners an electronic platform and mechanism for handling, processing and receiving corporate registry feedback on critical documents filed with the Registry of Corporate Affairs. BVI business companies worldwide now number approximately one million, of which almost 375,000 are active. Instrumental in growing the appeal of BVI companies is the availability of the VIRRGIN platform. It is one of the world's most innovative and efficient electronic systems for incorporating companies and administering corporate filings and records. It would not otherwise be feasible to effectively administer approximately 375,000 active companies and their related daily corporate filings without having a sophisticated user-friendly system such as VIRRGIN in place. Using VIRRGIN incorporations are effected within 48 hours.
In response to the need for expediency in the processing of corporate transactions, the Registry introduced its Premium Service Transactions in 2016. Premium Service Transactions are ideal for filing of documents in order to achieve time sensitive, complex cross-border transactions. These transactions include continuations, mergers, consolidations, amendments to memoranda and articles of association and registration of security charges. In most cases filings made using the Premium Service can be processed within 4 hours. This demonstrates the BVI's continued adaptability to providing a world class efficient and expedient service. In early 2016, “VIRRGIN Lite” was launched as a well-needed and welcomed addition to the already stellar services, and allowed users located in Hong Kong external access to the online BVI Registry system from outside the BVI. This created access for a limited number of persons to undertake transactions such as name reservations and company searches. The VIRRGIN Lite system has been used to ensure continuity of service in disaster recovery scenarios, such as the September 2017 hurricanes. This system ensured that service providers and clients would not be hampered, delayed or interrupted in achieving their corporate needs.
In the face of increasing international pressures for greater corporate transparency, the BVI responded by again harnessing its technological capital to maintain compliance with international standards. In 2017, a new innovative technology platform, BOSSs (Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System), was unveiled to industry. BOSSs is one of the World's leading corporate beneficial ownership register platforms, and through the use of sophisticated technology is a searchable portal that marks a steep change in the way beneficial ownership information on any BVI company is stored, accessed and, where appropriate, shared with competent authorities in the BVI and the United Kingdom (UK). The BOSSs platform allows only those appointed BVI law enforcement officials and bodies to access information on that platform and share that information with UK law enforcement and regulatory agencies within 24 hours. The information remains confidential on the individual corporate service provider registered agents' database but can be accessed only by those appointed BVI officials. This demonstrates the BVI's ongoing commitment to ensuring its systems and processes remain at the forefront of the IFC market. Integral to the BOSSs platform are the enhanced security features, which protect the personal and private information of persons affiliated with BVI entities. This searchable portal provides BVI law enforcement authorities with direct, exclusive and immediate access to verified beneficial ownership information on any BVI company. The BOSSs speaks to the BVI's innovative and state of the art response to improving transparency and continued efforts to tackle financial crime.
The BOSSs platform has very recently been enhanced (BOSSs V2) as to enable Economic Substance (ES) filings to be made in respect of BVI business companies and relevant limited partnerships. ES requirements were introduced by the European Union (EU) and continue to be required under the supervisor of the Organisation of Economic Development (OECD).
The fact that the BVI already had the BOSSs platform in place, which could then be enhanced to meet the new ES filing requirement, has placed the BVI in the forefront of jurisdictions when it comes to ES reporting.
These technological tools reflect the BVI's commitment to being an innovative, pioneering and forward-looking jurisdiction. Both VIRRGIN and the BOSS v2 platforms continue to place the BVI on the cutting edge of financial services technology, as the BVI continues to grow as a leader in offshore financial services.
Originally published by Appleby, September 2020
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