The BVI Financial Services Commission (the "FSC") has issued Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting Terrorist Financing Guidelines for the BVI banking sector (the "Guidelines").
Banking entities licensed by the FSC are required to put measures in place to help prevent money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing under and in accordance with the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Act, 1997 (the "PCCA"), the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, 2008 (the "AML Regulations") and the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice, 2008 (the "AML/TF Code") - each as amended from time to time (and together, the "BVI AML/CFT Regime").
The Guidelines, published by the FSC on 1 July 2020, supplement the Explanatory Notes to the AML/TF Code, with practical guidance specifically catered to banking institutions and more detail as to the FSC's expectations of banks, their staff and, in particular, Money Laundering Reporting Officers ("MLRO") in relation to AML/CFT.
The Guidelines stress the importance of banks understanding their customers and the risks they may pose, undertaking due diligence and implementing ongoing monitoring measures to identify suspicious transactions and/or activities.
Additionally, the Guidelines provide more detail as to banks’ obligations in relation to wire transfers and correspondent banking relationships; and emphasise how good governance, record keeping, employee screening, training and suspicious activity reporting all underpin an effective approach to AML/CFT.
The FSC has encouraged banks to use the Guidelines as a tool to better understand and navigate the BVI AML/CFT Regime; and to implement AML/CFT programmes which reflect each bank's unique circumstances.
While they will undoubtedly provide a useful point of reference for the BVI banking sector, the Guidelines are not a substitute for applicable legislation (notably, the AML Regulations and AML/TF Code) and should be read, interpreted and understood alongside the BVI AML/CFT Regime.
The guidelines provide practical guidance to banking institutions on the obligations created under the jurisdiction’s AML/CFT framework and describe the components necessary for implementing suitable AML/CFT programmes within banks. Banks should use these guidelines as a tool to aid in compliance with AML/CFT obligations under the Territory's legislation, as well as the Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force.