Approximately 3,000 persons in the British Virgin Islands affixed their signatures to a petition objecting to the United Kingdom’s ‘public registers’ policy being imposed on British Overseas Territories.
The petition will be officially handed over to the Governor Augustus Jaspert who has returned from a recent trip abroad.
“We were allowed some more time to get the additional signatures together and I believe that at my last count we were just under three thousand,” said Member of the Decision March Committee, Ayana Hull at a press conference earlier today, June 1.
She said there are outstanding petition papers still to be collected.
Hull said the number exceeded their expectations.
“I think it is an overwhelming response. We were trying to get 2,000 and we felt that it would be a good response. So anything over that was gravy for us in terms of what the attempt was and what the approach was,” she said.
Hull further said the numbers reflect the total number of direct jobs that would be affected if the territory accepts the UK’s policy.
“There are about 3,000 jobs that are at stake in the financial services industry directly and about 5,000 indirectly. So a petition number of 3,000 — if we had to look at that in context — will represent over 10 percent of the population in the BVI,” she said.
“I don’t know what percentage it would be of the adult population but it would be higher than that.”
Hull then gave insight into what the petition entailed.
She said the petition demonstrates the BVI is a “free people” who are protecting their constitutional rights along with other Overseas Territories.
The petition also includes the 2007 Constitution agreement between the UK and the BVI. The Constitution effectively said the BVI would have responsibility for matters affecting the BVI including tourism and financial services, while the UK would have purview on matters involving foreign policies and national security.
The petition will also include an entrustment letter dated June 7, 2007, as well as compliance letters showing the BVI’s transparency in its financial services sector.
The public registers controversy is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. The Bill received royal assent late last month. BVI and other Overseas Territory must implement these registers by December 31, 2020.
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