BVI News

UK legislator: Public registers the result of political feud

Lord Naseby (foreground) in the House of Lords on May 21.

By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff

A suggestion has been put forward in the House of Lords that public registers are being imposed on the BVI and other Overseas Territories because of a political grudge between UK parliamentarians.

Conservative politician, Lord Michael Naseby gave that indication during his contribution to the public registers debate in the House of Lords on Monday, May 21. The House of Lords is the upper house of UK parliament.

“Why should men and women in our Overseas Territories suffer because there is an argument between the Whips Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office? I respectfully say … that is unacceptable, totally unacceptable,” Lord Naseby said, adding that he received the information ‘through the grapevine’.

Notably, Britain’s minister responsible for Overseas Territories, Lord Tariq Ahmad, heads the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

House of Lords members defend BVI

Though the House of Lords eventually approved the implementation of public registers, several members such as Lord Naseby and Lord Ahmad came to the defence of the BVI and other Overseas Territories.

During his contribution, Lord Ahmad said the Prime Minister Theresa May-led government will “use its best endeavours diplomatically and with international partners to promote public registers of company beneficial ownership as the global standard by 2023”.

Lord Ahmad further said Crown Dependencies such as the Isle of Man will have to adopt public registers at that time.

Currently, Crown Dependencies are not required to implement the controversial public registers.

Also contributing to the debate, Lord Howard Flight agreed the new policy raises ‘major constitutional issues’ and said it is ‘shameful’ the UK has opted to impose such a rule on Overseas Territories when Britain has what he described as “a far worse record than the Overseas Territories”.

Other members in the House said while they empathise with the Overseas Territoires, the UK must become a ‘leader’ in setting and enforcing global anti-money laundering standards.

Premier responds

While responding last evening to the House of Lords’ move to approve the public registers, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said he welcomed the many positive statements in favour of the BVI from UK parliamentarians in the upper house.

However, Dr Smith said: “Our view on public registers of beneficial ownership has not changed. They are not required by any global standard and we will continue to defend our right not to have a public register until such time that they do become a global standard.”

What do public registers do

The public registers policy is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Launder Bill that forces the BVI and other Overseas Territories to reveal the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in those jurisdictions. Overseas Territories are required to comply by December 2020.

It is feared the policy will drive business from these Overseas Territories towards other less regulated jurisdictions that also provide financial services.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

32 Comments

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  1. Sam the man says:

    I would suggest to our Government that they focus on what they are doing to assist with the evolution that must happen to the BVI’s financial industry – after all the Premier himself said they had been preparing for over two years for this expected legislation….looking forward to hearing about his vision….

    It was a good point made in this article – “Other members in the House said while they empathise with the Overseas Territories, the UK must become a ‘leader’ in setting and enforcing global anti-money laundering standards.”

    Let the BVI embrace and accept this voluntarily and help lead the way for the Global financial clean up that will follow rather than resist it with a desire to continue getting rich off the back of dirty money…

    For those intending to March on Thursday think about what you actually stand for – stand for something worthwhile not this opposition to transparency…

    For those pastors – respected ones and others (you know who I mean) be very careful how you guide your flock on this – they look up to you – don’t dishonor our country with this march against colonialism nonsense….

    • Reader says:

      Interesting and logical viewpoint.

    • Wongchichi says:

      Are you reading the drivel you are posting. How is this a move against dirty money? Law enforcement has access to all the information that the public registry will encompass. Is it fair to say that the lords can stamp out corruption better than the agencies that are tasked with it?

      Further to that the Uk is trying to get this as an international standard by 2023. at which time the crown dependancies would then be required to adhere to it. But for some strange reason the OTs need to do it before hand. The hope seems to be that business will transfer to the less regulated dependancies and when it becomes a global standard there will be no reason for them to leave because everybody has to do it.

      So quite frankly Sam the Man if you are really looking at what is happening then you wouldn’t make the comments you are cause with those comments you sound more like Sam the fool to me.

      • Sam the man says:

        I’m afraid people like you just don’t like being transparent and forced to comply but as both Houses of Parliament have democratically voted for it you will have to do just that. The fact that there’s such noise against this I think demonstrates clearly that money laundering is going on….and we shouldn’t get rich off dirty money….the rest will soon have to follow – let’s lead by example we have nothing to fear – but go ahead and March on Thursday and make zero difference!

        • Someone else says:

          Sam, you seem to be missing the very important point that implementing the Public Registers in the OTs will drive business to less well regulated jurisdictions. Therefore illicit activity will increase as the perpetrators will have an easier time maneuvering in those countries.

          We are not naive enough to think that no illegal activities happen in the BVI. Illegal activities take place everywhere in the world. Billions of dollars in dirty money pass through UK banks, but the UK Parliament would never contemplate endangering those banks viability in an attempt to reduce that activity. That would be throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater!

          Because we are better regulated, we do a better job preventing those activities than most other places including the US, UK, etc. We therefore do not appreciate them placing one of our main business sectors at such great risk for no good reason, and further putting us at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the world.

          And BTW, we will be marching because of the high-handed constitutional over-reach and not because we are not in favour of transparency. We are in favour of transparency…but we are also in favour of individuals’ legal rights to privacy.

          • Sam the mane says:

            I’d rather we lead the way rather than hang out for a few more years we shouldn’t be upset that other zones siphon off some of our dodgy secretive investors ! We should not be envious of others benefitting from money laundering – let’s get our house in order first….and this is not in anty way appropriate to March for – the PR will be catastrophic…..and the press will destroy us – be warned

        • Fake News says:

          Sam the man I really do think you should get your facts straight about where the revenues made by financial services in this territory come from. Start there. This decision affects more legit business owners than it does these ‘frauds’ the UK is trying to catch or mitigate. Widen your perspective and come again.

      • Rubber Duck says:

        What Orlando and the others should now ask for is a level playing field at least until the Crown Dependencies are due to go public with their registers. Do not seek a reversal, seek a postponement, a breathing space. There they might succeed because the U.K. government are sympathetic.

    • A teacher with understanding says:

      Finally, a voice of reason.

    • Allbaloney says:

      Well said! Let’s move forward with the rest of the world. If our previous advantage was linked to corruption let’s fix it and move forward.

  2. Ok says:

    My question is if there’s nothing to hide why is this such a big issue? If persons are legal owners of companies and everything being done is legit what’s the issue? QTNA

    • Special Agent A says:

      The big issue is many of our same politicians have been caught up in this same scheme with the dirty money being protected and fear becoming exposed but we already have the names and their companies and the persons they are involved with. Just awaiting official time to bring them in for questioning.

      The sad thing is we have a department in place that over look this dirty money scheme but they are manipulated by these same corrupt government officials or lose your job.

      We got you.

    • OK says:

      Ok so you work at a Law Firm and own a business. Since you have nothing to hide, would you be happy with the Bank making your bank account information public? Privacy is not a crime!

    • understanding FS is parimont says:

      @ OK, if you understood anything about financial services. you would not have made that statement. As someone that has worked in industry for several years, let me enlighten you with one example.

      Clients set up legit companies for various reasons including tax structuring, which is legal by the way. Some clients who reside in countries that have safety issues, cannot have their identity made public. They go as far as paying for kidnapping insurance. For these clients, it is for the safety of themselves and their families that their identities are kept private.

      • Laughing says:

        The people with the dirty money make me laugh. BVI has over 400,000 active entities registered here and the BVI has 6 banks with only 2 of those banks opening accounts for offshore entities. I won’t go any further. If dirty money is the issue then registers are not the answer, they should open the banks’ records, but we all know why that will not happen. Grasping at straws to justify BS policies.

    • Hah says:

      Most people have nothing to hide but wouldn’t post their personal information online, it’s called privacy. The same reason why 99.9% of you bloggers refuse to use your real names. Do your homework before commenting on stuff with no real knowledge.

    • Fake News says:

      How would you feel if all your bank account and investment information is made public? It’s an invasion of privacy. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Interesting and logical viewpoint. However, why not hold everyone to the same standard? Also, it was stated clearly as fact, that the UK is not a good example in the area of financial services.

  4. Mr.VI says:

    My advice for people that aren’t familiar with the financial services industry is to get informed before commenting. This is not about money laundering as the BVI has more or equal regulations than the UK and other countries.

  5. well, well well says:

    You have been expecting it, say you have been preparing for it, it has happened….. Why are you fighting it? Accept it, where is plan B, which you should have in place already. STOP with the nonsense, focus on recovery, fix the island with the recovery money and MOVE ON! If there is dirty money let it go elsewhere! The Financial Pilar is and will still be here for honest companies. It is not like the Financial Service will dry up and blow away. We have the God given product and opportunity (via loan guarantees) to make the BVI’s better than ever. Leaders, Opposition, et al.. sit down, talk, organize, focus on country rather than party and personal gains.

  6. Waste says:

    This is very disturbing but not shocking. I believe that the corruption that has allegedly plagued this country over the years couple with our request of not allowing England’s representative not to swear in , in the house of assembly has played a part.

    When the law was knocked down a year ago by the UK parliament our politicians thought it had passed us. Now the British is showing who has the power. The other overseas territories has gotten caught up in the feud between the BVI and Uk.

    And the comments made by one of our ministers against the Prime Minister did not help. I blame our Governments since 1995 for not taking the money made from offshore and using it to create other industries instead the money was wasted. Look at our infrastructure.

    Unfortunately the reality is neither our Premier or Leader of Opposition have the respect of these people who have the records of the checks and balances.

    And when the speaker said that Britain’s rep will not swear into the House of Assembly which belongs to the local Government Fahie should have taken a hard stand against it rather than having to go the UK this week with the premier wasting Tax Payers dollars.

  7. BVI says:

    LEH WE BOYCOTT THE QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY PARADE ND THE NATIONAL ANTHEM…LEH WE MARCH ON HER BIRTHDAY INSTEAD

  8. Dim Sum says:

    Theresa May has gotten away with so much since she became PM. Her ideology is nothing less than the oozings from the spawn of Tony Blair.
    She abhors Brexit, drags her feet at every opportunity, and pretends that she is putting her foot down.
    Those of us old enough to remember would call her a quisling.
    Nothing good for the British VirginIslands can come of this.
    If you have money hidden here, go put it somewhere else. We do not want the heat that comes with it.
    We were not taxed before you came here and we do not want to be taxed because you are here.

  9. Sam the Sham says:

    A certain sec is always quick to comment under every post but don’t know SQUAT!! Had you any knowledge of the financial services industry you would SHUT UP!! Sam the Man seems to be on some queer agenda against the government or anything for that matter. Have you ever seen Dirty money? Is there any thing as clean money? Moronic!! Just like the clergy that congregates every week and collects money in God’s name.

  10. MOBILISE ALL OTs says:

    Now that we have this information the Premier should mobilise all OTs to lobby and protest against the UK Parliament Opposition-led Bill. It should not just be us marching locally, but ALL Overseas Territories joining forces to stand against this imperial big stick legislation.

  11. MOBILISE ALL OTs says:

    And because Crown dependencies such as Isle of Man are not being subjected to this requirement at this point (IoM being a major offshore centre)…we should not have it…these are discriminatory practices.

  12. Blah says:

    It is disappointing to read what people who I assume is from here and live here is saying about our financial services when it is obvious that they have no knowledge of what they are talking about. This is our number 1 revenue bringer and to talk about money laundering when you have never studied, worked or are familiar with the industry is plain careless and despicable. So much due diligence goes into knowing who the clients are and how they got their assets. Their names are even checked to see if they are red flagged. The information is readily available when or if requested by law enforcement. Every now and then as with everything in life something or someone will fall through the cracks but that doesn’t mean the entire system is flawed or corrupt. Using money laundering as a reason decades ago before the legislations were around might have been sensible but in 2018 it is just a poor excuse.

  13. Hah says:

    To make another point, just this year a woman in the US won the Powerball for over $500 million which is totally legal. Powerball usually releases the names of the winners to show transparency however the lady did not want her named released and even went to Court and won to protect her identity from being revealed. She wasn’t laundering money. She had no bad intentions. She just wanted her privacy. The irony here is Powerball also allows ticket buyers to sign their names in the name of a Trust (yes the same trust where people just create to launder money according to the Oxford idiots dictionary)instead of an individual if preferred to allow winners to remain anonymous.

  14. Reality says:

    I wish all those that pretend to have such detailed knowledge of our finance business would just shut the F…k up and accept the legislation – its no point bleating on about how unfair it is and how the BVI is whiter than white…if it was we wouldn’t have had this imposed on us….evolve or wither – simple really….arguments that state its just so unfair that others aren’t being asked to do it yet are pathetic….lets lead by example and stop treading water….

  15. Really says:

    Utter rubbish. Uk should lead by example. We will not comply. We are more regulated and see no reason to comply. We should not put up with this disrespect. They have no power to impose this law.!!!

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