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Decision March Committee considering to involve UN

Decision March Committee members Bishop John Cline, Zoe Walcott-McMillan (top, right), Ayana Hull.

The Decision March Committee has said it is considering to engage world leaders in the United Nations about the ongoing public registers saga.

Committee member Bishop John Cline told BVI News they will stop at nothing in the fight for justice for the BVI and other Overseas Territories. He said the committee will continue to put pressure on the United Kingdom to abandon its 2020 public registers mandate.

The public register policy is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act, which is forcing the BVI and other Overseas Territories to publicise the names of ‘secret’ owners of offshore companies registered in those jurisdictions.

“We will explore taking on our case to the United Nations to ensure that we have proper representation on the international scene, and so that the world will know that the UK is not behaving in ways that are fair and just to its Overseas Territories,” Cline said yesterday, July 9.

“We believe this is a good avenue to take if need be,” he added.

UK’s response to BVI petition

The ongoing controversy had led to a major local protest and an anti-public registers petition on which more than 3,000 residents affixed their signatures.

In a letter dated July 4 and addressed to Chairperson of the Decision March Committee Ayana Hull, Lord Tariq Ahmad – the Minister of State for the Overseas Territories – said he understood the ‘strength of feeling’ of the BVI.

Lord Ahmad then said, while the UK Government would have “preferred to work consensually on making registers of beneficial ownership publicly available,” the will of the UK parliament must be respected.

“We believe the balance of powers in the current Constitution is broadly the right one as the UK needs to retain sufficient powers in order to discharge its sovereign responsibilities towards the Overseas Territories,” Lord Ahmad argued.

The UK parliamentarian said Britain is, however, open to discussing constitutional reform “if the BVI Premier wishes to put forward any detailed proposals”.

Commenting on Lord Ahmad’s letter, Cline said: “To a certain degree we expected them to defend their position, but it is our job to ensure and to let them know that the decision from where we sit is the wrong decision. We will not just accept it and we are willing to go as far as we need to go in order for it to be changed.”

He said his committee’s goal is to get the UK to understand the days of colonial rule are over.

“It is our belief that the constant pressure and resilience and standing up to them that we will get them to change their minds,” he said.

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31 Comments

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  1. wow says:

    THE CHILD DONE DROWN

  2. James says:

    I am not a naysayer. I participated in the Decision March. However, we must strike a balance and remain grounded in reality. We SHOULD NOT take this matter to the UN. First reason being that many years ago the UN approved a charter to ensure that remaining “colonies” gain independence/self-determination, yet the BVI did nothing along the lines of the charter. Second reason is that the UN and is extension of the USA, UK, and France so we shall not get a meaningful sympathetic ear. Third, this fight can turn against us quickly in the international sphere as the vast majority of the world does not understand or appreciate our line of business.

    It is time to start considering HOW to make UBO information public.

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      Wow!!! You are a very intelligent individual. I hope your points don’t go over people’s head. You are spot on with all your points. You have a very valid argument as to why we must be careful and not approach the UN. I’m definitely with you on this.

      • BVI says:

        Correct, financial transparency is actually initiated by the UN… We will not look good if we try to defend an unjust cause.

  3. Lol says:

    They are the government now? I applaude their efforts but going to the UN should be Government and a concerted effort with the other OTs.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Keep the gloves on. We must fight for and to keep our rights and what our ancestors have work hard day and night for to achieve that we may have today.

    Clearly, changes to the constitution is a must, so get it down NDP!

    • Curious says:

      What changes do you propose? Just charge them a high fee to search the register. The BVI will collect the additional fee and if high enough it might deter the searcher.

      • Albion says:

        I don’t think we need to propose “changes” at all. We just need to decide what we would do if we are eventually forced to implement the UK’s will in this regard. There are several details about the new system that should be made clear from an early stage:

        * The register will only be searchable in person at the BVI Registry. It will not be accessible electronically outside of the BVI. This is the same as the current position for the BVI Companies Registry at present, so not really a change.

        * It can be searched, but no copies can be taken. Hand written notes only.

        * The fee charged to those wishing to conduct searches should reflect the cost to both the BVI and the service providers of implementing this system. We never wanted it, and so we should not be made poorer as a result of being forced to set up and maintain it.

        * Persons who conduct searches should be required to identify themselves fully (with ID), and the persons searching each file should be recorded and made available on request.

        * Persons searching should be required to give an undertaking that they will respect the laws of the Virgin Islands in relation to the information, and in particular the constitutional guarantee of privacy under the VI Constitution Order.

        • @Albion says:

          Solid proposals but I wonder what you say about journalism’s role in breaking news that powerful people don’t want known. eg Watergate etc which relied on getting access to confidential info to prove crime and corruption.
          Solid journalistic investigation is an important tool of the people – ie those who don’t hold power, to act as a check on those who do and who always want to consolidate that power.
          If a journalist comes from overseas – or even is local – would they be allowed to look at the pubic register? (obviously they’d need to show their credentials etc.)
          I sense something threatening in your proposal that a member of the public using the register would be charged a kind of punishment fee to do so, would be logged by the authorities and possibly their search reported. To who? The company’s beneficial owner? The police? BVI News?
          Should we be actively working to deter activities that are not only legitimate but also that are an important defence of the people?

        • Albion says:

          Well, it is not my decision, but if it were:

          * I would set the search fee at somewhere around US$35 per entity. That compares with the current search fee, and allows for set up cost of the new system. High enough that no one will search all 450,000 companies just for fun, but low enough that it doesn’t prevent a serious inquiry in relation to a particular company.

          * I don’t have a problem with a serious journalist conducting an investigation. They perform a valuable role in the world. But in the interests of transparency (as transparency is apparently what this is all about) then they should clearly identify themselves. No need to automatically report on this, but there should be a clear audit trail as to who has been looking at what.

          * Respect for people’s privacy is a legal requirement enshrined in our constitution (and in the European Convention on Human Rights, which binds the UK). We have all seen far too many stories where the press invade the privacy of the rich and famous for no serious journalistic reason – just for a salacious headline – usually in the form of innuendo rather than facts. We should try to limit that.

          Just my opinion. Others may have different views.

  5. Attention Grabbers says:

    Anything for publicity. As if regional news not enough. Lol

  6. Wow says:

    I have a fundamental issue with this self appointed committee. You cannot govern yourself. Take a step back and let the people decide.

  7. Looking attention says:

    This seems be about those three persons in the picture. It is not their role to go to the UN. Why are they bypassing the elected government? Why aren’t they working in conjunction with the government if they really want to help? This is nothing more than a horse and pony show for the Clines and those hoping to be a Cline.

    • @Looking attention says:

      Why don’t you stop judging people? That story is not even true but you are quick to judge the intention of others and you do not have the facts. Settle down with the bitter stuff

  8. Cudjoe says:

    The decision by the UK to single out the OT’s is a human rights issue and the UN is an appropriate avenue for redress. When the mandate is applied across the board the VI has stated that it would comply. As it stands, the OT are being told to decrease their economy to inflate that of the Uk the US abd and other wealthy banking systems.
    This is discriminatory and unconscionable.
    Also,very importantly,via the UN, this action by the UK will become more visible to the international community which will foster more awareness to developing countries regarding the super powers and their ongoing destabilizing of the economies of developing countries.

  9. /////// says:

    Is this a new party vieing for election now? What a set of —–.

  10. Political Observer (PO) says:

    Though the requirement for establishing registers of beneficial ownership may impact the BVI, an OT of the UK,, revenue stream, is it a violation of human rights? Does the the BVI have other avenues of replacing and increasing the potential lost of revenue stream? Is it a long shot to get the UN to side with the BVI against the UK, a permanent member of the UN Security Council? Other UNSC members include US, Russia, China and France.

    Moreover, the territory is included on the UN list of non-selfgoverning territories. As such, the territory has the right to pursue self-determination. But is the BVI ready for INDEPENDENCE? Fellow Virgin Islanders, are we ready for independence? Should we get our hopes high that the UN will side with us? No. We should get engaged with options and opportunities for building stability and building better and more prosperous lives for residents.

    For starters, it needs to be working with the UK for more autonomy, building and sustaining a stronger educational platform, a first world infrastructure, healthy community, diversified economy, stronger social fabric……….etc.

    If you are for INDEPENDENCE, 👍👍.

    • RealPol says:

      Agree that it is highly unlikely that the UN will provide the relief that the group is seeking on a weak issue against the UK. The VI is not a member state of the UN but an OT of a permanent member of United Nation Security Council. As such, this issue will not get any traction in the UN. Cannot see other permanent members voting against the UK on this issue, especially since it is not even coming from a member state.

      The Palestinians suffer a myriad of inhumane treatment by the Israelis yet barely get a mention at the UN; Israelis strictly control Palestinians’ life. The permanent members, ie, France, Russia, China, US and France tow the line on the Palestinian issue, siding with the Israelis.

      The BVI needs to look at opportunities to mitigate the potential adverse impact of establishing registers of beneficial ownership, if any. Ignoring the bill passed by parliament and assented by Her Majesty is a poor plan of action. Of course, the VI can go independent and not have to worry about the UK and its legislation. Constitutionally, an election is due no later than 2019. Perhaps, a referendum can be placed on the ballot in regards to independence. Independence???

      • Diaspora says:

        Me arm, independence, independence………mek mi hed spin. The VI is not ready for da..n independence. Let’s stop fooling ourselves. This is delusional.

  11. AntiCorruptionLeague says:

    Wait – you want the UN to side with US?
    You might find the UN is more sympathetic to countries like CAR, Angola, Sierra Leone, Niger and the people of all those other African brethren states who have lost vast quantities of aid money, tax money, mineral rights money and other potentially life-saving amounts of revenue for poor people – only to find the thief’s trail stopped in … the BVI.
    WE think the is about colonialism, overreach, privacy and our human rights. Most everyone else knows that we – and other OTs – have long been the veil behind which criminal money disappears … ‘legally’.
    That’s a hard truth the BVI just refuses to acknowledge.
    Good luck getting sympathy from anyone except the rich, the right wing, the criminals and of course, the financial industry echo chamber.

  12. dude says:

    let it go folks

  13. Buddy says:

    It was probably pressure from the UN to combat money laundering and tax evasion in the first place! Stop wasting time, acknowledge it and put your energy into seeing what opportunities exist and get in front of the other OT’s.

  14. Decision March Comittee says:

    Has not said anything. This is pure media sensationalism again.

  15. Sam the man says:

    Just accept the UK’s decision, well you don’t actually have a choice! Stop bleating about it and treading water just get your finger out and get the country better organised, start with clearing all the debris,sorting the sewage,repairing the roads that might encourage the financial firms to return!

  16. Amigos says:

    OK, you three. Marijuana, weed, grass, sensi, sativa, cannabis, spliff, dutchie, sensimella, blunt, Mary Jane, ganga, whatever you want to call it, has not been legalised in these fair las vigin isles (as yet). So there is no excuse to be acting higher than the international space station with this circus. Come down to earth and research the UN and stop making it bad for the BVI. Your friends need to tell you all better.

  17. Devon says:

    The UN is probably not impressed with the rights of “outsiders” here in the BVI… so I wouldn’t count on them helping you much..

  18. Ethics says:

    The BVI is in an alternate universe. Wow.
    Talk about denial.

  19. Ausar says:

    I want to urge the group to continue to pursue justice in all its forms.
    Any agency that has the ears to hear of injustices globally should be pursued.

    I still believe that Dr. Smith was correct about the enactment of public globlal registries prior to the territory imposing such measures.

    Commendations go out to those who fight for our sovereign and constitutional rights to determine our economic destiny!

  20. What a thing says:

    I am glad I did not march, what leaders!

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