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Hundreds in BVI march against UK

Hundreds of British Virgin Islands residents march through the streets of the Road Town capital on May 24 in protest of the United Kingdom’s amendment to its Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act. (Photo by Davion Smith/BVI News)

“This is our land. This decision can’t stand,” were the words chanted as protesters marched today (May 24) to Government House, where British Governor Augustus Jaspert resides.

The chants were directed towards United Kingdom (UK) legislators who this month decided to impose public registers of company beneficial ownership (see editor’s note below) on the British Virgin Islands.

The decision has been described as a breach of constitution and it is feared the said decision will have major negative impacts on the territory’s main revenue earner, the financial services sector.

Coupled with the ‘Decision March’, protestors have been affixing their respective signatures to a petition that will be presented to the UK.

The petition will first be given to Deputy Governor David Archer, Jr who will eventually hand it over to Governor Jaspert who had a pre-planned trip outside the territory.

While addressing protestors who have gathered by the hundreds, local activist Patsy Lake appealed to Her Majesty the Queen to intervene and defend the BVI.

But, in a more radical statement, Deputy Premier Dr Kedrick Pickering said the march is sending a message that the BVI is “divorcing itself from the UK”.

Dr Pickering is just one of the majority of local legislators participating in the march.

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith and Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie are other participants out of the BVI’s House of Assembly.

Meanwhile, protestors from all four of the territory’s main islands have congregated in the Road Town capital.

Up to press time, the protest was still ongoing.

Editor’s Note:

Imposing public registers is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act. These registers mean the BVI and other Overseas Territories are required to publicise the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in those jurisdictions.

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.

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith in the thick of things at the May 24 Decision March in Road Town.

Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie dons his placard at the May 24 Decision March.

PHOTOS: Things to know about BVI’s Decision March

Copyright 2018 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

86 Comments

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  1. Be careful says:

    So the March is now about the BVI divorcing itself from the UK? Be careful what you desire as we need the UK far more than the UK needs us…. but if it’s independence you want there will be an exodus I can guarantee…..

      • How now brown says:

        No coverage of the March on [the other site] – makes you wonder whether its only reporter was too busy politiking at the March to cover the story. Suspect there will be a story later today confirming how the esteemed was leading the March!

        • Rubber Duck says:

          Hundreds? Not thousands then as demanded and expected.
          Another proof that the people have more sense than their “ leaders “.

    • Onething says:

      Good luck with that. If I had knew better will be the shout After if independance happens. we get a shot in the leg are we are going to shot ourselves in the head?

    • Albion says:

      Nobody is talking about independence at this stage.

      All we want is constructive engagement instead of imperialist legislation imposed unilaterally and without discussion (and in breach of not only the constitution but also the existing agreements we had signed with the UK).

      If the UK wants to talk about public registers of beneficial ownership, we can talk. We both agreed a written protocol for doing exactly that. But instead of using it they just smashed up the discussion table and said that we must do whatever it is that they say we must do.

      • wake up says:

        stop talking S…t Albion and try and keep up, the time for talking is well past we just have to comply end of – its not an optional extra that you think we can debate…..

      • What? says:

        Albion, the slogans “end to colonial rule” and “we are divorcing the UK” don’t actually mean we want independence? They mean something else? Cudda fool me and a whole lot of other people. Is not the same ones who been talking about independence saying those slogans?

      • Nuff Nuff says:

        Pickering is talking about independence! I wonder who made all those expensive signs and handed them out? What does “BOLLUK” mean on the sign in the photo?

      • Care says:

        The UK know exactly what the doing. The government of the BVI squandering too much. 95 percents who march don’t have a clue what the marching for.

      • CW says:

        Pickering called for War. That was right after he got finished clamoring about independent BVI. What do you mean nobody is talking independence? He literally used those exact words.

    • Real News says:

      Well we all know the people marching were protesting the minister’s investment in BVI Airlines. They want their money back. They want their planes back too!

  2. BVI Patriot says:

    Good going!

  3. Bvi lander says:

    Only da fool will want independence.we can no longer the us currency.we would need visa to travel to the united states.guys please stop talking ignorance about devoce from the uk.we have nothing to sustain us.most of these caribbean islands who went independence a now suffering.we can travel visa free almost anywhere.do we want to loose that previllages think about it for once.our goverment will only get more corrupted.

    • Anonymous says:

      Vi landers playing with their citizenship….not against the march but independance?? Hmm if you guy ever visited the u.k you would see why millions of people are dying to get over here from other european countries and other african and middle eastern counrties. Let the rethoric fool yourselves the uk aint 100% white….82% to be exact…usa is 72% white…so say its a white man country when it got down islands people overthere like rain…..well run dry “oh I aint see what I had”

    • Paty says:

      Thank god.. someone who get it..

    • @Bvi lander says:

      Which Caribbean Island you see suffering?

      • CW says:

        Cuba. DR. PR. Haiti.USVI. BVI.
        Should I keep going? I can list another 6 at least.

        • West Indian says:

          all independent Caribbean islands are not suffering please stop your propaganda
          Bahamas
          Barbados
          St.Kitts
          Trinidad
          Antigua
          Economically are doing just fine.

          • true says:

            Trinidad over 300 murdered this year, great job!

          • Rubber Duck says:

            Incomes per head $ US

            Bermuda ( BOT). 85700
            Cayman ( BOT) 43800
            BVI. (BOT). 42300
            Trinidad. 31200
            Turks and Caicos (BOT) 29100
            St Kitts. 26800
            Antigua. 26300
            Bahamas. 25100
            Barbados. 17500
            St Lucia. 13500
            St Vincent. 11600
            Jamaica. 9200

          • Please says:

            @rubber duck did you make those figures yourself. Bvi is overstated by it is only 38,000

      • Emanuel says:

        Jamaica for one. Trinidad and Barbados not too far behind.

        • Rubber Duck says:

          CIA’s figures. The World Bank , IMF etc don’t cover the small countries.

          But it looks like you either have to be a BOT or strike oil to do well in these parts.

    • Bandit says:

      that is not what the expats from those independent Caribbean countries would have you believe. it’s always much better where they came from.

  4. Wondering says:

    Blind eye — leading this country, right off the cliff.

  5. think says:

    i see hundred of people marching and they dont even know why there are marching for and dont even understand what this new law is all about. just because politician who only looking for they own personal interest said march that does not mean we most just follow without educating our self about the matter. i guarantee you that the only people that will be affected by this new law that England impose on us is the politician and their pockets. wake up people wake up

    • Wow says:

      When we got to the governors house they explained critically what the march was for. If you had attended you would know. Idk why people always have to be so negative when people want to unite together in what they believe in. The UK gave the BVI a choice , Either the Bill stands or become Independent and The BVI doest want to become independent so they said it has to be another way. We just want the queen to step in an revoke the decision. If the bill stands MANY outsiders especially can lose their jobs and our financial services pillar will disappear. BVI can’t survive alone off Tourism. #StayWoke

      • CW says:

        The UK has no intention of even considering an independent BVI. Queen revoke what? You know she isn’t involved in that right? Sound like you are very informed about how your government works- enough to run your own country hahahaha. Financial services will not disappear simply because everyone around the world is in the process of opening all the books up. You will end up in the same boat as the other markets. Leaving UK because of this will ostracize you from the IMF and your financial sector will crumble anyway. If you are the only people with private books then only criminals will do business and you will get sanctioned. You have no good choice bit acting childishly and calling for independence is reactionary only. Have fun going anywhere else in the world once you lose your British visa!!! Think!!

        • So far off says:

          Nobody is saying to keep our books private. We are saying to make the standards global to ensure a level playing field. If The OT are the only ones required to uphold this new Standard, it is possible that companies will move to other jurisdictions who do not have the same requirement. These places will benefit from leakages in our Financial Services sector.

          We are saying if everyone has the same requirement, then there is no need to shift business elsewhere, as companies will experience the same challenge!!!!

          Level the playing Field!!!!

      • true says:

        NO the BVI cannot survive off tourism alone but with Agriculture and Fisheries the BVI can and will flourish, Property prices will slump as well as rental costs so local BVIslanders will be able to enter the housing market where at the moment they are squeezed out buy the FS.

        There is always a flip side.

        To be clear K———- isn’t preaching independence he is preaching getting into bed with another country!!!! BEWARE

  6. SMH says:

    Really Kedrick, Divorcing the UK to marry you guys? I don’t think so.

  7. Curly says:

    So is this about the Bill or Independence. People have the right to march for what they believe in, but the BVI is not ready for independence at this time, something they could work towards though. If it is rushed the amount of persons leaving the BVI will be huge. Who will then rent the properties, people wont be able to pay mortgages, banks will fail, strong chance the $ currency will go, who will top up the pensions. What would have happened if this island was independent after the storm we had?? Just saying be careful pushing for something too soon. UK has enough of its own problems and they might just cut loose.

  8. Hmmm says:

    Hundreds? There were a few thousand well when it got to waterfront drive.

    • A man says:

      Dunno about that. Was watching and when the front got to bobbys the back had finished going round the roundabout. Hardly overwhelming. Not sure there was 1000.

      • @ A man says:

        he said “when it got to waterfront drive” did you saw all the ppl on the road waiting for the march to reach in order to join in?

    • Reality says:

      Omit the forced school kids and teachers, government employees and government hangers on then I’d estimate maybe 20 to 30 maximum! This was a shambolic march for what? poorly organised, poor taste banners and T shirts – quite frankly it was the most inept poorly attended demonstration I’ve ever witnessed but then the No Direction Party was behind it so why should we be surprised! The speeches were absolutely rubbish and the UK wouldn’t have even blinked after this C…p turn out….

  9. BVI wake up says:

    I’m so disappointed…is there no one with half a brain in this territory? The ones marching are digging a hole and are dragging all of us in it…

    • Y’all Tortola people ignorant says:

      IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH US BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT TERRITORY! IT IS ABOUT THE FINANCIAL SERVICES SITUATION.

  10. Law Abiding Citizen says:

    A bit too late for this. Had we any foresight and proper planning, we’d have challenged the UK more diplomatically.

  11. Kinte says:

    Only an idiot or a selfservingperson who is most likely a politician that makes money from the off shore accounts. Not most of those who marched but are easily led.

    The B.V.I. cannot survive without Britain. The British dont need the B.V.I hate to say it but there is no value there.

    • Hmmmm says:

      Government collects almost 200 mil annually from financial services. Thats direct revenue. Stop talking s**t and find out what is going on. The BVI has over 400,000 active companies registered and you here talking s**t about this only affecting local politicians?

    • Hah says:

      Kinte you are the idiot! You think our local politicians own thousands of offshore accounts? You think they are the ones that bring in 60% of our revenue? Do you even understand what are you saying because your jumbled words comes off as nonsense. You naysayers just talking straight out the @$$ with no knowledge whatsoever about financial services. I’m no fan of the NDP but this isn’t about them or about them fighting to protect some personal interest in the companies. What is your bright idea to replace 60% of our annual budget. You think UK will give us?

  12. Yolo says:

    Wasted of time we are under the queen what she say goes… this just a distraction from the real problem… government is lie in to the people… they should of use the money and boast the economy buy having a great tourist attraction and have tourist as our main economy……we had the time we had the money but Goverment steel the money and do what they want with it… this is the result just deal with it

  13. Mick Mars says:

    *Suck Teeth*
    Lemme go Renew my UK Passport before I ‘Juk’ and to sleep. What ayo need march for,ayo ain’t march for.

    Also, where them find the money to be printing all these shirts and placards but Enid Scatliffe roof can’t get Galvanize up to now???

    For real, people, WAKE UP!!

  14. Zztop says:

    Tola people love to be in thing

  15. Sam the man says:

    Ok so the waste of time circus afternoon is now over… most there seemed to have been coherced to attend and didn’t actually know what the March was about! Others to be honest just fancied an afternoon off work or school! Many were just intrigued and wanted to listen to the speeches which I personally found v simplistic, hastily prepared, tiresome colonial rhetoric, desperate attempts to rouse emotion but overall v disappointing – not exactly Martin Luther King speech was it! More like a scene from the Muppets! What I found sad was the number of placards with random ranting on… if I was NDP I’d sack the organisers as it was such a disjointed, limp, embarrassing afternoon really…. no real passion, no vision, instantly forgettable rhetoric and a very half hearted attendance – most appeared to be not even connected with the Financial Services or employed by them… However what next ? After this lame attempt to create a massive smokescreen to mask our Governments complete ineptitude to lead our country? So much to do and we need the UK’s oversight and competence to help us rather than the No Direction Party – they heading for the cliff! Divorcing ourselves from the UK what utter stupidity and ungratefulness – as others are wise enough to warn – be v careful what you request as the UK as far a I’m aware didn’t even raise an eyebrow to the gathering yesterday and would I think jump at the chance of cutting us loose if we continue to disrespect them and request Independence – I fear the damage has been done… and if it’s divorce I’ll be leaving with many others….

  16. BVI Airways says:

    The public register may solve the mystery of what happened to our $7million invested in BVI airways!

  17. Cookie Monsters! says:

    Sorry but I’m not marching with this NDP Government because it’s their fault UK did what they did. It’s clear to see that with how much money disappearing through NDP hands (no financial auditing, no transparency, monies unaccounted for etc) UK has had enough and I cant blame them. Why are we marching with this government when up to now, they have never given the people of the VIs explanations for the nonsense thats been happening. We shouldve been marching when they didnt show us how the highschool wall couldve cost so much, when we found out the government actually gave the airlines millions prior it’s even in operation, for them not being able to explain how the cruise ship pier cost so.much more than estimated though inferior materials were used, etc. It’s sad how VIslanders dont know how to march for civil injustices but we’re marching nowthat our mother country strategically imposing ways to keep cookies out of the cookie jar away from the cookie monsters!

  18. Burt says:

    Please, let us hurry up and March one more time. This time it MUST be about getting rid of our so-called governor. The one who r– — in the face of the people’s concerns.

    Remember, he is a part of the same aristocracy about which we’re expressing our concerns. No difference between he and s—— the ad——- of the March of the 1960s.

  19. Facks says:

    You all are just marching to keep money in the rich man’s pocket. Why don’t you march for better education, better care for the elderly and better nursing homes. Why don’t you march for the people that is retired and can’t get their full pension that has been slashed in half.

    • LMAO!!! says:

      So a march to protect our most important revenue stream isn’t a march for better schools etc.? Wow!

      • CW says:

        You really think that’s what Pickering was on about? Schools? He wants to he the first president of a new independent BVI. Wake up or you will all suffer the consequences. BTW- the whole world besides you is opening their books. Get on board or you will lose your business anyway

  20. Simple says:

    The people are been mislead. They should have told the people that we are in this position because of karma and if it was not the UK Decision it would be something else to bring us to our knees.

    Just like we had a storm and Two hurricanes last year.We need to repent of our corrupt ways to much ill luck.

    They were a set of people who only have their interest at heart and their cronies now they playing in the race card.

    But it was a good march to divert the peoples mind from the failures of the Government. They were the winners.

  21. Bandit says:

    Elizabeth ain’t studying ayo. you all better do what she say and get that registrar ready and correct.

  22. expat says:

    The B.V.I have to go down, you’all to wicked thats why things happening to you’all so. People live in the B.V.I over 14 and 15 to 17 and 18 years. just because the hurricane pass they lost their jobs, you’all taking $250.00 just to stay in the country and you’all still send them home after 14 years. you’all is some people nobody supposed to help the B.V.I, you’all to ungratefull. The British do so much to the B.V.I after the hurricane and you’all turn against the bristish now. The british should let you’all go. you’all should suffer nasty dirty minded ungratefull people.

    • Laura says:

      @expat You need to repent from you wicked thoughts. We all sin but there is no need to wish bad on the islands that fed you and your family for the same 14, 15, 17 and 18 years. Go to any other country and you might have to wait even longer…tsk tsk

    • For Real says:

      that’s why you should have never been allowed in the BVI. This is why I don’t like expats like you residing here. if we are nasty and dirty minded, why you want to be here living in our place.

      • CW says:

        You sound like that i—t trump, shame on you. Racist, protectionist, and elitist. Who do you think fills your hotels, boats… And OFFSHORE BANKING? expats. Bite the hands that feed and starve fools

  23. Skelly says:

    End Colonial Rule huh, so that you never ever have to account for the cost per square foot on that hospital huh.

  24. What? says:

    Effectively, beneficial owners are persons who reap the benefits of owning a company even though the title of the company is in another person’s name.

    This is WRONG BVInews!!!! The beneficial owner is the beneficial owner, stop spreading faslehoods! There are nominee shareholder arrangements where an entity or person can hold shares on behalf of someone else but it doesn’t change who the ultimate beneficial owner is. This is totally misleading and ridiculous!

  25. NOT about Independence says:

    The march is about the peoples democratic right to be heard. It is about respecting us as a people and country.

    • CW says:

      You are a territory. Not a country. You do not contribute like a country, and you consume other countries resources like a territory. Why should they respect your rights as a country when you aren’t a country?

  26. Good luck says:

    The beneficial ownership issue has been a long time coming but those in power did not think it would happen. Too little action and too late. There was no plan B. Now what? Walk away from the loan guarantee? Ready to walk away from the right to a UK passport? To a country of 60-70 million, BVIs is minute. Maybe those protesting feel better now but it is all a tempest in the proverbial tea cup. Man up, face the music, free and easy money is done, quit being so arrogant and work on a different plan. Start with a little less xenophobia and try to be a little more welcoming to outsiders who want to make a positive contribution, and stop it with the sense of entitlement. In a way BVIs rags to riches story is like lottery ticket winners. Most of those who win huge sums end up right back where they were within 10 years after squandering their riches.

  27. Ajic says:

    That public register business is utter nonsense and the UK knows it. The BVI has been most open and upfront in combatting money laundering and corruption. In fact we have some of the most stringent policies in place. Making people financial holdings available to the public is reckless and irresponsible. The registers are open to the police and other investigative authorities in their investigations against corruption and that should be enough.

    Just another witch hunt by the UK who I believe is jealous of the prosperity of the BVI.

    I am backing my Premiere when he says he will not expose peoples business to the public without just cause.

    • Get real says:

      you back a government that has failed repeatedly to issue even one set of audited annual accounts for our country year after year? are you for real? open and upfront….since when ? we are the most corrupt, nontransparent, deceiving, nepotistic Island I have come across and that is saying something as I’ve traveled plenty including China!

    • Onething says:

      Explain the panama papers then? How is it that they missed that?

    • Panama papers says:

      The “panama papers” had a part to play in this, obviously whoever can access the information skipped the parts about tax evasion and money invested from russians, americans, europeans and elsewhere.There is legal investment and money there but there is also dirty money. The caymans is used for tax evasion. Not all money invested there is dirty money but you would be ignorant to believe that there is’nt. A handful of Americans and even the queen’s name appeared in the “panama papers”. Some Americans (a miniscule amount <4000 a year) revoke their citizenship to avoid FATCA think about that for a minute. The bvi is'nt as squeeky clean as people think, this will affect the ots but the bvi the harshest other ots economies are'nt two pillar based. Anguilla, Turks abd caicos and gibralter aint batting an eye. The caymans and bermuda are more diversified they will lose but the bvi stand to lose the most. How can you be a country when you never thought about diversifying? Take dubai as an example it was a fishing village at the edge of a desert 50 years ago look at it now, they used their oil and developed their country, they knew that the oil would run out sooner or later at the opposite end of the spectrum look at venezuela it has the biggest oil reserves in the world more than the middle eastern countries, their economy is oil based well the price of oil dropped…look overthere now people are starving….they never expected that….the down island countries depended on bananas well the market shifted to latin america (costa rica etc.) with bananas another market loss again….what does all this has to do with the bvi? Tourism can be relocated to other places with more access= more stuff to do (sxm, st. Kitts, usvi, dominican republic, ABC islands, pacific islands and also cuba which recently opened up) and direct flights and Hurricanes can destroy our infrastructure. Financial services= other juristictions with less lax laws will get the investments it has over 190 countries in the world. The world is'nt staying still for the bvi two services cannot support you, the financial services is'nt domestic or regional it's world wide. Tourism is worldwide. Every country in the world is competing for these services.
      it might seem unfair but is life fair? Is the world fair?

      • @panama papers says:

        I totally agree with you. The government/political parties have been promissing diversification for years. Especially during election but their actions or lack thereof continue to prove that either they were not serious about this and their statements were just a ploy to win votes or they just lack wisdom to see what so many others can see plainly. How can you have your two main economic pillars rely on external factors? Ok…maybe you cant really control this in the sense that local investments naturally would not be able to generate the same revenue as those main pillars but at least ensure that the local investments can sustain the country and its residents. We have heard the words agriculture and fishing thrown about many times…however, are there any real GOV investment towards getting these off the ground? We continue to throw money and effort at Financial Services although to me any blind person can see the risks that continue to grow in this arena. While the GOV plan to mitigate the risk of having to provide a public register was to implement the BOSS surely someone wouldve thought “what if it is not accepted” and then put plans in place to mitigate risks of having to provide a public register of beneficial owner information. We had many years to come up with various strategies.

    • Rubber Duck says:

      Brits made the finance industry here, not locals. BVI is already driving Brits away and has a terrible reputation in the UK. The UK is not “ jealous “ of the BVI, dream on. It is a flea on on an elephants leg. The UK does not give a rats ass about BVI.

      Wait till a UK news source runs a story on the BVIs inhumane treatment of expats. Then you might see some serious UK action against what goes on here.

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