Government has retained Queen’s Counsel and former Acting High Court Judge Gerard Farara to potentially challenge the United Kingdom’s controversial ‘public registers’ amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act.
The local attorney has been retained alongside University of Oxford professor, Dan Sarooshi, as well as Withersworldwide, an international law firm headquartered in London.
“They are confident that the imposition of a public register would raise serious constitutional and human rights issues and would be subject to constitutional challenge,” the Premier told journalists at a media conference on Wednesday, May 30.
“They will continue to be retained until we come to a resolution on this matter,” he added.
Premier Smith said he did not know the legal fee rates government will be paying the territory’s new team of attorneys.
Meanwhile, his announcement comes days after the aforementioned public registers policy became law.
These forcibly-imposed registers mean the BVI and other Overseas Territories are required to publicise the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in those jurisdictions no later than December 2020.
Effectively, beneficial ownership is a legal term where specific property rights belong to a person even though the legal title of the property is in another person’s name.
Publicising the names of these beneficial owners could discourage them from doing business with the BVI as it relates to financial services. The local financial services sector accounts for roughly 60 percent of the territory’s annual revenue.
The UK has imposed the law to tackle financial crimes such as tax evasion and money laundering. A number of international authorities have claimed the BVI is one of the breeding grounds for financial crimes.
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