Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said his government will not comply with the United Kingdom’s controversial amendment to its Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which passed in British parliament last week.
The amendment is forcing the BVI and other Overseas Territories to implement public registers that disclose the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in those territories.
“The BVI has consistently stated that it will not introduce public registers of company beneficial ownership until it is a global standard. I want to assure you that nothing that has happened in the last two weeks changes this position. If a global standard is ever adopted, any public register of beneficial ownership must respect and protect fundamental rights: that is non-negotiable,” a tough-talking Premier said on Thursday, May 10.
The Premier reiterated that the UK’s decision to impose public registers on Overseas Territories is ‘unjustified and discriminatory’, and said the BVI will continue to engage directly with the United Kingdom government in the hope that “right and reason can prevail”.
The Premier went on to rally residents to support the public non-political march slated for May 24. The march is a protest to the UK’s aforementioned public register law.
“I encourage all of you to remain as engaged and inquisitive as you have been in the issues surrounding last week’s events. Significantly, this heightened level of unity and engagement is manifesting itself in the community with the organisation of a public non-partisan march,” Dr Smith said.
“Having led the constitutional delegation in 2007 and also as Premier, I fully support the right of the people in this territory to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association. I fully endorse this march which from all indications will be a seminal event for reflection and solidarity. I also call on all participants to maintain a peaceful albeit resolute posture throughout all events,” he added.
The march will start from the Sunday Morning Well in Road Town and end at Government House, where Governor Augustus Jaspert resides.
Over in the Cayman Islands — which is also affected by the UK’s public register fiasco — a similar and simultaneous protest is scheduled for that day.
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