The BVI government announced on 18 March 2020 that the territory would go into partial lockdown to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic with effect from 19 March. In response the competent authorities, which are central to the operation of the financial services industry, have informed the public that they will continue to remain operational in this extraordinary period.
BVI Financial Services Commission (BVI FSC)
The BVI FSC issued two circulars on 17 March 2020 informing the public that until further notice it will be suspending in-person meetings. Despite this the BVI FSC will continue to provide continuous customer service and support to the industry. If there are further operational changes as a result of the continued response to the spread of COVID-19, further circulars will be issued as needed.
The regulator took the opportunity to remind all licensees to review their business continuity plans and revise them as required to address business operations related to the current global pandemic.
Licensees that anticipate challenges, or significant operational risks, particularly to functions that serve and support clients, are requested to consult with the BVI FSC on how these risks may be mitigated.
The BVI FSC is responsible for the operation of the BVI Registry of Corporate Affairs, so the business continuity planning above applies equally to the Registry.
BVI FSC’s Circular No. 3 can be found here.
BVI FSC’s Circular No 4 can be found here.
BVI International Tax Authority (BVI ITA)
The BVI government issued an announcement on 19 March 2020 confirming that the BVI ITA will remain operational during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
In addition to acting as the coordinator for exchange of information requests in tax matters, the BVI ITA also operates as the central authority for the administration of the BVI economic substance (ES) framework.
With reference to ES the BVI government stressed in its announcement that the BVI ITA intends to adopt a reasonable and practical approach where entities are obliged to make adjustments to their operating practices in order to mitigate the threats from the corona virus. The Authority will not seek to prejudice those legal entities who temporarily adjust their normal operating practices so as to mitigate the threats of the corona virus outbreak.
The BVI ITA press release is found here.