Premier Andrew Fahie said the British government did not take too kindly the BVI’s protest against the UK for introducing a law that forces the BVI to implement public registers of beneficial ownership.
Concluding the House of Assembly’s debate on whether the BVI should undergo a constitutional review, the Premier said the march did have the effect that was intended.
“They (the UK) were saying, ‘you could march until you want’. That’s the mentality of some of whom we are dealing with. Did you see anything change [after the protest]? As a matter of fact, they came after us even harder,” Fahie told the House on Tuesday.
Not fighting against UK
Despite his remarks, the Premier made it clear that the territory was not fighting against Britain.
“I don’t want anyone to get the impression that we are fighting anyone. We have nothing against the UK. As a matter of fact, I have some good friends from the UK … We know wherever you go there will be some good and some bad,” he said.
He added: “We are concerned about the fraction that don’t have the same mindset as we do in the Virgin Islands but want to dictate to us and don’t want to hear our voice, don’t want to hear our calls, don’t want to hear us even come to the table and say these are the areas we want in the constitutional review.”
Back in May 2018, the territory marched against the United Kingdom about the public registers policy, which directly affects the BVI and other Overseas Territories.
Protest organisers were, effectively, hoping that with enough pressure, the UK would abandon its 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.
Following that protest, the UK granted its Overseas Territories a reprieve and is now allowing the British Virgin Islands to go without implementing the bedevilling public registers of company beneficial ownership until 2023.
This timeline represents a three-year extension to the initial deadline that the UK had outlined in its Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act. The Act was forcing the BVI to implement what are known as public registers of company beneficial ownership by the year 2020.
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