The Government of the Virgin Islands has appointed legal counsel to advise on a potential legal challenge to the imposition of a public register of beneficial ownership.
In his One-on-One Press Briefing with the media on Wednesday, May 30, Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE announced that the Government appointed Withers Worldwide and retained Professor Dan Sarooshi QC of Essex Court Chambers and the University of Oxford as Leading Counsel and eminent Virgin Islands constitutional lawyer, Mr. Gerard Farara QC.
Premier Smith said, “The legal team is confident that the imposition of a public register would raise serious constitutional and human rights issues and would be subject to constitutional challenge.”
He added, “We have consistently stated our position is that we will not introduce public registers unless and until they become a global standard.”
The appointment of legal counsel follows the United Kingdom’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill where there is an expectation for Overseas Territories, including the Virgin Islands to make public the beneficial ownership of all companies registered no later than December 31, 2020.
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill is the United Kingdom national legislation which seeks to provide for and regulate the imposition of sanctions generally by the United Kingdom Government.
The Bill will provide the United Kingdom with the ability to implement sanctions on individuals, companies and states, and address money-laundering once it leaves the European Union.