The government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has enacted new legislation to establish a secure searchable system for the storage and disclosure of beneficial owner information for all corporate and legal entities incorporated or domiciled in the jurisdiction.

The Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System (BOSS) requires that registered agents collect and maintain information on the beneficial owners of the entities to which they provide services.

The new legislation also allows for the immediate sharing of beneficial ownership information between the BVI and the UK government.

Limited access

The BOSS database will not be public and the information will be accessible only by people designated by the BVI’s minister of finance.

The BVI’s Financial Investigation Agency, Financial Services Commission, International Tax Authority and the Attorney General’s Chambers each have the power to ask a designated person to search the database.

International information exchange

Information from the database could be shared with authorities in jurisdictions such as the UK with which the BVI has entered into bilateral information sharing agreements.

The new legislation defines a beneficial owner as a natural person who ultimately owns or controls 25 per cent or more of the shares or voting rights in a corporate or legal entity or who exercises control over its management.

Corporate and legal entities are obliged to inform the registered agent of any changes in beneficial ownership or in the prescribed beneficial owner information within 15 days of becoming aware of such a change.