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How UK’s anti-money laundering bill affects BVI

Andrew Fahie. File photo

On Tuesday (May 1) the United Kingdom Parliament approved an amendment to their Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. The amendment mandates that public registers of beneficial ownership be imposed on the BVI and other British Overseas Territories by the year 2020.

Effectively, beneficial owners are persons who own property rights to a company 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.

This affects the BVI economically because the local financial services industry accounts for roughly 60 percent of the territory’s annual revenue.

Below is a statement from Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie on the UK’s decision to impose public beneficial ownership registers on the BVI:

My people of the Virgin Islands, now that the UK Parliament has voted to impose public beneficial ownership registers upon the BVI and other Overseas Territories, the onus is now on us in the BVI to take full assessment of the repercussions and, most importantly, to determine what opportunities this vote brings.

When the road seems dark and dreary, a God-fearing people must take comfort that God has a plan in store for us. We walk not by sight but by faith.

We can only begin the process of restoration if we can fully determine what we have to battle. We must gather all participants in the financial services industry so that we can gain a full appreciation for the concerns voiced by their customers.

If commitments are made by our leaders to the British government, then we the people of the Virgin Islands must be made aware of these commitments so that suggestions or decisions are not made in a vacuum. The establishment of additional economic pillars is now critical.

No longer can we afford to generalize: The Performing Arts is a sector that must be pursued and the benefits maximized.

Per capita we have the most talented persons in music and the arts, bar none; sports tourism is a sector that must be pursued and the benefits maximized.

Per capita, the BVI has the most talented athletes and their skills must be harnessed; sports fishing and deep-sea fishing are sectors that must be pursued and the benefits maximized.

With a fishing zone of over 200 nautical miles, constantly being fished, legally and illegally, we must maximize the benefits of our waters.

Without a stretch of the imagination, these are only a few of the many suggestions that can be brought forward, which will only be realized if we gather all stakeholders with the common goal of identifying and pursuing these opportunities in which the BVI can benefit.

Despite the current actions by the UK, we must realize that, although challenging times are ahead, once we work together and stay together, keep praying and keep trusting, then the best days of the BVI are not our yesterdays but rather our tomorrows. This should not make us bitter; it must make us better.

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14 Comments

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  1. It is so easy says:

    As I understand it, we all accept that:
    1 – the labour and immigration departments are primarily responsibe for our financial services sector being an administrative print/file/scan/email documents prepared overseas and for pushing virtually all substantive work overseas.
    2 – Hurricane Irma destroyed what was left of our tourist business, although it had already been significantly negatively impacted by labour and immigration, and by Governments refusing to permit overseas investment into the tourism industry. Unfortunately, the Government policy has not changed post hurricane, but it might be forced into change when the Government goes bust later this year.
    3 – The agricultural sector, the so called third pillar of our economy, is hopeless and the nature of our land (together with the desire of our people to sit at a desk processing meaningless paper rather than work outside) means that nothing can be done to generate an effective agricultural sector.

    However, what I do not understand is why if we are the most skilled performing artists in the world, and the best athletes, nobody outside of the BVI seems to know about our world breaking skills. Is this another incidence of racism?

    • Hmmmm says:

      Fahie is just talking BS to drum up support. Nothing he said in that statement made any sense! Him and others seem to think that telling locals they’re the best at everything is something good for the Territory. We have some great talent in BVI across the board but most skilled and best per capita? WTF is he talking about? Further how would these generate revenue? Surely if we have people here that are talented in sports, arts etc. it would be the opposite, where we spend money on them to support their efforts? How does that generate revenue? It’s time to get serious about moving our country forward and stop the stupid talk.

      • To Hmmm says:

        It is clear that the shackles are in your brain. Fahie is making a lot of sense but you operate from hatred so you will always be enslaved.

        • Hmmmm says:

          Tell me one thing that he said that’s sensible and will result in increased revenue for the BVI and a better life for its people, which is the topic at hand. Tell me ONE THING! I will wait.

          • Buff-baff says:

            Let us not forget what happened in 1853 when the government imposed a 12-cent increase on cattle tax. BVIslanders showed that they didn’t stand for BS. Then we had the Wickham’s Cay fiasco with Bates-Hill. The Noel Lloyd park is a testament of what BVIslanders can do to protect their own. Maybe we will have to show the UK government, one more time, what we are capable of.

        • Buff-baff says:

          Let us be realistic here. It took many years and millions of dollars to build this world-class financial services sector that we have, and it has served us very well. Should we now abandon this industry? Based on what it seems that the UK is asking for is an end to the profitability of this industry in the BVI (and other BOTs). Should we try to build new revenue streams, as alternatives at this time when we are financially challenged, to secure our financial future? Firstly, it will take many years and millions of dollars to do enough to at least match our losses from the financial services. We can’t afford the money, even though we may have the time. Secondly, we should invest a portion of what little we have now into tapping into the fish resources within our 200 nautical-mile fishing zone. Public-private partnerships to secure large trawlers and longliners that can contribute tons and tons of choice fishes for local consumption and export may be a great contributor to our economy. And, thirdly, we should tell the UK to go to hell: we will NOT throw our bread basket under the bus (dare them send in the military and kill all of us because we are standing up for our rights).

      • voiceofthevoiceless says:

        @Hmmm

        Come on Bro at least he is suggesting solutions? Is that not what we ask of him? Let us look at Sports Tourism:
        Investing in World class facilities like Track, Cricket and football stadia, and indoor Basketball courts can lead to us hosting Regional and possibly international sporting events. This would bring thousands to the BVI that can help fill hotel rooms, rent cars, spend money in grocery stores, shopping, entertainment, airport taxes, airlines, taxis etc. Everybody gets a share. Then there is exposure from media when the cover the events beamed regionally and internationally. That is priceless. Cultural events work the same way. A fishing tournament on ESPN? Oh ok.

        Listen these ideas are not the entire solution to the problem but they are sure part of the solution. Hopefully upgrading and building stadia was in the recovery bill…Oh well wishful thinking…The truth is we should have had these in place long time ago especially with the kind of money we generated from financial services but we wasted it, so now we have to find funding and unfortunately this will not be prioritized.

  2. Agreed says:

    I agree with this angle by Fahie.

  3. Interesting says:

    Maybe it’s time to remove this shackle from our necks. The shackle call colonialism..

  4. Slick says:

    The scam is up. Time to get real jobs and compete like the rest of the world.

  5. My Opinion says:

    Okay Fredrick K. Price and T.D. Jakes all rolled into one….Tiss..Tiss! I mean Mr. Fahie, you have my vote for Premier. 💕💕😎

  6. Performing arts?! says:

    The VI are not going to transition from being an economy based 60-70% on financial services to having a thriving economy overnight. We need some foreign direct investment (particularly to rebuild immediate tourism capacity) and modernisation of old policies build during different times. The majority of the population are immigrants yet there is usually so much hating for no reason in the comments section it’s unbelievable. We need people to want to stay, work and invest in the islands – that means pro-business reforms, investment, competition, infrastructure (transportation, electricity, internet and telecoms) and a focus on building skills/education.

  7. A student says:

    Does anyone know who wrote this article?

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