An Interview With…
Julia Shamini Chase
Pioneering Compliance Leader and CEO of Gold Leaf Consulting Limited
Recently, Finance Monthly was delighted to speak with Julia Shamini Chase, the Founder and CEO of Gold Leaf Consulting Limited. Julia Shamini is a highly respected figure in the BVI regulatory law and compliance arena. With an exceptional track record and unwavering dedication to excellence, Julia Shamini has positioned Gold Leaf as the gold standard in the compliance industry. She is a highly sought-after authority in the British Virgin Islands regulatory and compliance regime and beyond. Julia Shamini brings a wealth of expertise and experience to compliance consulting.
In this article, we delve deeper into Julia Shamini’s insights into the BVI regulatory regime and explore her perspective on anticipated changes and upcoming trends, offering readers a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory landscape in the BVI.
How would you describe the current regulatory environment in the BVI, and how has it evolved over the years?
The BVI business company (BVI BC) and the broader BVI financial services industry are widely recognized as essential enablers of global commerce, establishing the BVI as a prominent international financial centre. With the evolution of its financial services landscape, the BVI has progressed from primarily facilitating company incorporations to offering value-added services encompassing corporate, commercial, fund management, and succession planning products. The BVI BC has gained popularity as an asset-holding vehicle and secured listings on international stock exchanges.
To support its sophisticated offerings, the BVI has developed a robust regulatory framework to prevent misuse of its products, services, and jurisdiction for illicit activities such as money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferations financing. Compliance with the FATF recommendations and OECD guidelines is a priority for the BVI, demonstrated through its ongoing good standing ranking and membership in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.
Building upon its solid foundation, the BVI introduced comprehensive legislation for virtual asset service providers in February 2023, following the establishment of the BVI Fintech Sandbox regime in 2020. The Sandbox regime allows eligible fintech service providers to test their innovative products and services in a quasi-regulated environment.
Investors have consistently shown interest in leveraging the BVI’s exceptional financial landscape to facilitate their trade. In summary, investors recognize the BVI as an all-encompassing business environment emphasizing a harmonious blend of innovation, usability, and regulation.
Gold Leaf has been an active observer and stakeholder, witnessing and participating in the evolution of the BVI’s regulatory landscape. Our deep-rooted relationship with relevant stakeholders and regulators has enabled us to foster a strong understanding of expectations and priorities. Through my appointment as a member of the BVI FSC’s Fintech Steering Committee, we have actively contributed to shaping the virtual assets regulatory landscape in the BVI. Through these collaborations, we have provided valuable insights and perspectives, ensuring that the BVI’s regulatory framework remains robust, transparent, and responsive to the needs of businesses and investors.
In September last year, the BVI Financial Services Commission approved the Territory’s first investment business license, which authorizes the holder to operate a cryptocurrency exchange. Can you tell us more about it?
The approval of the BVI’s first cryptocurrency exchange license marked a momentous occasion for the jurisdiction and Gold Leaf as the regulatory counsel behind the successful licensing application. We take immense pride in having played a pivotal role in preparing and overseeing the application on behalf of our client, ensuring compliance with the stringent regulatory requirements. Our client was also the inaugural participant in the BVI Fintech Sandbox license. Through strategic planning, we successfully navigated the licensing process. We utilized the Sandbox regime to facilitate our client’s operational familiarity within the BVI’s regulatory landscape, fostering innovation and a secure virtual asset ecosystem.
During the Sandbox phase, as regulatory and compliance consultants, we assisted our client in developing and enhancing their policies, controls, and procedures to ensure compliance with BVI regulatory requirements. Once our client was confident operating within the BVI’s regulatory framework, we applied for their full Category 7 license under the BVI Securities and Investments Business Act 2010 (SIBA) specifically for cryptocurrency exchange platforms. We continue to act as regulatory counsel and as the approved compliance officer for our client, through Gold Leaf Corporate Compliance Services Ltd., the licensed corporate compliance service provider arm of Gold Leaf’s business.
The enactment of the BVI’s Virtual Assets Service Providers Act, 2022 has expanded the regulatory regime for BVI entities and legal arrangements involved in virtual assets. This legislation complements the existing regulatory framework, supports fintech development, and aligns with international standards for virtual asset regulation. This has not only bolstered investor confidence but has also attracted a new wave of entrepreneurial ventures to the BVI, positioning the jurisdiction as a favorable destination for cryptocurrency-related activities.
What makes BVI so attractive to institutional investors in the crypto industry?
When discussing the attractiveness of the BVI to institutional investors in the crypto industry, it would be remiss of me to not only highlight the jurisdiction’s favorable regulatory environment which I will discuss in more detail, but also its natural beauty. The BVI’s unique combination of regulatory excellence and breathtaking surroundings contributes to its appeal as a preferred destination for institutional investors in the crypto industry.
In addition to its stunning beauty, the BVI offers the following key elements that make it attractive to institutional investors in the crypto industry:
- Regulatory Clarity – which the BVI has established with a clear and well-defined regulatory framework specific to virtual assets, through the passing of the BVI Virtual Assets Service Providers Act, 2022 (VASP Act). The VASP Act addresses the licensing and supervision of persons and entities engaged in virtual assets activities. It establishes a framework for compliance, risk management and reporting obligations which enhance consumer protection and investor confidence in the virtual assets space.
- Investor Protection – the VASP Act implements robust investor protection measures, such as custody and safekeeping requirements, capital adequacy, testing, auditing, and, robust money laundering, terrorist and proliferation financing, and fraud detection measures, to ensure overall investor protection.
- Compliance and Reputation – The BVI has, and continues to maintain, a stellar reputation as a compliant and robustly regulated jurisdiction. The VASP Act and the BVI Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/PF) legislative framework imposes a risk-based approach on virtual assets providers, to demonstrate that their AML/CFT/PF policies and procedures remain adequate and effective to combat their inherent money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferations financing risk exposures. Such robust compliance measures are attractive to institutional investors who prefer investing in jurisdictions that actively combat financial crime, as it reduces the risk of their investments being involved in illicit activities inadvertently.
- Stable and Political Environment – The BVI Government has demonstrated its support to help develop a robust virtual assets sector, which reduces uncertainties and risks associated with sudden regulatory changes or sudden policy shifts. It has also established a strong and stable economy, which is reflected in its fiscal policies, sound financial structure and proactive measures to mitigate risk.
What other trends do you expect to see around regulation and compliance in the British Virgin Islands?
The BVI has consistently demonstrated its foresight and tenacity to evolve and adapt as a leading offshore finance centre. At Gold Leaf, my team and I actively engage in monitoring and analyzing emerging trends that shape the regulatory and compliance landscape in the BVI. As a forward-thinking and commercially minded consultancy firm, we anticipate several key areas of focus in the BVI’s future regulatory and compliance landscape:
- Embracing Regtech Solutions – The BVI has always been a forward-thinking jurisdiction, as evidenced by its embracing of Fintech. This has allowed the jurisdiction and, moreover, the BVI FSC as a regulator, to foster innovation while ensuring robust and transparent regulation. I foresee the BVI adopting more regulatory technology solutions to streamline compliance processes, automate reporting, and improve data analytics capabilities. Regtech adoption will enable more efficient compliance management while reducing costs and increasing accuracy. The BVI AML Legislation already permits the use of electronic or digital verification (ED) provided that such ED satisfies certain prescribed criteria within the legislation.
- Strengthening of Virtual Assets Regulations – With the introduction of VASP, and as the industry continues to develop and mature, we anticipate further enhancements and refinements to the regulatory framework governing virtual assets. The BVI will likely continue to focus on ensuring compliance with the FATF Recommendations, by focusing on preventing illicit activities, while fostering a secure and transparent virtual assets ecosystem.
- Continued Commitment to Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and Proliferations Financing (PF) – The BVI will continue to maintain its strong stance on AML/CFT/PF and sanctions compliance. The AML/CFT/PF framework has matured into a risk-based framework which ensures that the internal controls being implemented by licensed entities are not only adequate but effective in achieving regulatory compliance. I believe we can expect to see ongoing efforts to enhance these AML/CFT/PF frameworks to strengthen due diligence procedures and ensure the highest standards of financial integrity.
As a jurisdiction, we are certainly set to continue our path of furthering regulatory and compliance advancements. These trends reflect the BVI’s commitment to staying at the forefront of regulatory best practices, embracing technology, and maintaining a robust and trusted financial ecosystem.
How does Gold Leaf ensure that your clients stay ahead of the curve when it comes to complying with new and changing regulations?
At Gold Leaf, we take pride in our commitment to keeping our clients ahead of the curve when it comes to complying with new and evolving regulations. Our approach combines proactive measures, industry expertise, and cutting-edge solutions to deliver exceptional compliance services.
- Continuous Monitoring – Our diverse and expertly skilled team continuously monitors regulatory landscapes, both locally and globally, to stay informed about upcoming changes and emerging trends. We keep a finger on the pulse of regulatory developments, enabling us to anticipate and quickly respond to regulatory shifts, preparing our clients well in advance.
- Tailored Compliance Solutions – Through our patented SFC-Solutions Focused ComplianceTM (SFC) methodology and tools, we design tailored compliance programs that are sustainable for implementation to help protect our clients’ peace of mind. By tailoring our solutions, we ensure that our clients have a robust framework in place to address new regulations and adapt to changing compliance demands. Also, using our SFC-Solutions Focused ComplianceTM we have created proactive compliance assessment tools that go beyond the minimum requirements. Our assessment tools identify potential gaps and vulnerabilities in our client’s compliance frameworks. By proactively addressing these areas, we help our clients fortify their compliance posture and minimize the risk of non-compliance.
- Expert guidance and advisory – Our team is comprised of experienced compliance professionals who contribute extensive industry experience and regulatory expertise. Through our wide network, we also work closely with and have access to, leading global consultants who we engage, as necessary, in the delivery of our services. Our goal is to provide timely and informed guidance to our clients, whilst also offering practical strategies on how to navigate regulatory challenges effectively.
- Training and Education – A fundamental ethos at Gold Leaf is that knowledge is key to maintaining compliance excellence. We offer training tools and solutions, to keep our clients updated on the latest regulations, industry best practices and emerging compliance trends. By investing in continuous learning, our clients are equipped to adapt to new requirements and seize compliance-related opportunities.
How does your company approach balancing a client’s business goals with their regulatory obligations?
Our clients are leaders in their respective markets and industries. We appreciate that they must maintain a keen focus on their business productivity and profits. In balancing their business goals with their regulatory obligations, our approach is underscored by our mission to become our clients’ trusted partners, enabling them to achieve compliance excellence and peace of mind. Our team at Gold Leaf possesses not only extensive knowledge of regulatory frameworks but also a deep understanding of business operations and strategies. This distinctive combination of regulatory expertise and business acumen allows us to effectively guide our clients in navigating the complex landscape of compliance while achieving their business objectives.
We demonstrate this actively through:
- Client-Centric Approach – We prioritize our clients’ unique business goals and objectives. Our team takes the time to understand the specific client, operational nuances, and growth strategies. By aligning our services with their business priorities, we ensure that compliance becomes an enabler rather than a hindrance to their success.
- Customized Solutions – We recognize that compliance is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Our team of professionals works closely with each client to develop tailored solutions that meet their specific regulatory requirements while aligning with their business goals. We strike a balance by designing compliance frameworks that are practical, efficient, and customized to their industry and operational needs.
- Proactive Compliance Planning – We adopt a proactive approach to compliance planning. By staying ahead of regulatory developments and trends, we can anticipate potential impacts on our clients’ businesses. This allows us to provide early insights, assess the potential implications, and develop strategies to address regulatory changes efficiently. Through advance planning, we help our clients navigate evolving compliance landscapes with confidence.
- Streamlined Compliance Processes – Our SFC-Solutions Focused ComplianceTM (SFC) tools, technologies, and streamlined processes are designed to minimize the burden of compliance on our clients’ day-to-day operations. We leverage automation, digital platforms, and innovative solutions to simplify compliance tasks, reduce manual efforts, and improve efficiency. This enables our clients to focus on their core business goals while we handle their compliance needs effectively.
- Safeguarding Reputation – We understand that our clients’ reputation is a valuable asset. Our services are designed to safeguard their reputation by ensuring compliance excellence. By implementing robust compliance frameworks, conducting thorough assessments, and providing ongoing monitoring and support, we help our clients mitigate compliance risks and maintain their integrity in the marketplace.
Our approach to balancing a client’s business goals with their regulatory obligations is rooted in our client-centric philosophy, customized solutions, proactive planning, streamlined processes, and a commitment to safeguarding their reputation. In every engagement, we are our clients’ trusted partner, allowing them to focus on their core business while we provide comprehensive compliance support. Trusting us to deliver gold-standard solutions, our clients can achieve compliance excellence, peace of mind, and perpetual business growth.
About Gold Leaf Consulting Ltd
Gold Leaf has established an unparalleled reputation for delivering tailored, practical, and efficient compliance frameworks, making them a trusted partner for organizations navigating the complex regulatory landscape. Under Julia Shamini’s astute leadership, Gold Leaf has achieved an outstanding milestone—an impeccable 100% track record for the approval of licensing applications in the BVI. This remarkable achievement speaks volumes about Gold Leaf’s expertise, meticulous approach, and deep understanding of the regulatory landscape. Clients entrust Gold Leaf with their licensing aspirations, knowing that their applications are in the hands of a proven industry leader.
Gold Leaf’s commitment to its clients extends far beyond licensing approval. Organizations seeking to navigate the intricate web of compliance requirements highly value Gold Leaf’s sought-after services. With their comprehensive understanding of evolving regulations and a practical, client-focused approach, Gold Leaf offers tailored compliance solutions that enable businesses to thrive while upholding the highest standards of regulatory adherence.
Gold Leaf Consulting Limited
Units 6 and 7, Road Reef Plaza
Prospect Reef, Tortola
British Virgin Islands