Increased supervision of BVI Real Estate Agents by the FIA

The BVI Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) is presently reviewing the compliance arrangements of real estate agents throughout the jurisdiction to ensure they meet the requirements of the British Virgin Islands’ (BVI) anti-money laundering (AML) regime. The note below provides details on this imminent heightened supervision:

Part of the role and function of the FIA is to monitor and supervise the AML systems and controls that real estate agents have in place. On paper, real estate agents have been subject to applicable AML rules and obligations since 2008. However, more recently these rules are being actively enforced by the FIA to ensure that the BVI meets all regional and international AML compliance obligations.

In light of increased levels of supervision by the FIA, real estate agents are encouraged to:

  1. have in place an appropriate compliance manual meeting all of the requirements of the BVI's AML rules and obligations:
  2. conduct all appropriate Know Your Client procedures when taking a client on board;
  3. appoint a money laundering reporting officer and inform the FIA of the appointment; and
  4. inform the FIA about any transaction that may be considered suspicious.

Real estate agents are reminded that they are required to submit their compliance manuals to the FIA.

The above list is by no means exhaustive and breaches of any core money laundering offence under the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Act, 1997 which form the backbone of the AML regime range from $250,000 to $500,000. Additionally, breach of a provision of the BVI AML Code of Practice, 2008 could lead to fines ranging from $25,000 to $150,000.