British Virgin Islands Leads Successful First Year of UK-OT Illicit Finance Dialogue

Photo: BVI GIS. Lorna Smith, Premier and finance minister of the BVI, is opposed to international financial crime.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Labour and Trade, Lorna Smith, has announced the successful wrap-up of the first year of the UK-Overseas Territories (UK-OT) Illicit Finance Dialogue. This initiative, which the Virgin Islands co-chaired alongside the UK, aims to foster collaboration among Overseas Territories and key UK departments to combat financial crime.

Initiated by the Joint Ministerial Council, the dialogue involves stakeholders from the HM Treasury, the National Crime Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, among others. Its primary goal is to devise and implement strategies to counteract illicit finance and enhance cooperation to combat financial crime effectively.

Reflecting on the past year, Minister Smith emphasized the global challenge of financial crime, noting its pervasive threat to the financial system. She highlighted the importance of teamwork in safeguarding against such threats and expressed pride in the Virgin Islands’ role as the dialogue’s first co-chair. According to Smith, the initiative has already made significant strides, with active participation from all Overseas Territories.

Key focal points of the dialogue have included enhancing sanctions, boosting law enforcement collaboration, improving transparency in beneficial ownership, and aligning with international regulations on illicit finance. Notably, plans are underway to establish sanctions units in the Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Additionally, law enforcement agencies across the Overseas Territories are set to receive specialized training from the UK’s National Crime Agency on cryptocurrencies.

The dialogue also aims to continue its efforts on beneficial ownership and ensure compliance with the requirements set by global standard setters, such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The recent ministerial-level dialogue, co-hosted by Smith and UK Government Overseas Territories Minister David Rutley, was deemed highly productive. Attendees included government leaders from several Overseas Territories, along with UK officials.

Minister Smith concluded her announcement with a reaffirmation of the commitment shared by the Overseas Territories and the UK to combat financial crime in all its forms. She expressed optimism about the dialogue’s continued impact on strengthening financial systems against criminal activities. The Cayman Islands Government is set to succeed the Virgin Islands as the dialogue’s next co-chair, and Smith looks forward to supporting their efforts in maintaining the momentum of this critical initiative.

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