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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