As the British Overseas Territories continue to voice their objection to the United Kingdom’s ‘public registers’ controversy, Britain’s minister responsible for Overseas Territories, Lord Tariq Ahmad visited a number of those territories to hold discussions with the respective leaders last week.
Lord Ahmad visited with Overseas Territories such as the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Anguilla.
However, other territories such as the British Virgin Islands received no such visit and residents have called for an explanation.
In what can be described as a facile explanation in a social media post, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith on Monday said Lord Ahmad’s rounds in the region were ill-timed.
Dr Smith said: “Lord Ahmad intended to visit the BVI and Anguilla. However, the timing was wrong for the BVI, which he understood perfectly and he decided to visit Cayman Islands instead.”
The Premier did not specify what made Lord Ahmad’s would-be visit to the BVI ill-timed.
He also did not clarify whether it was Lord Ahmad who opted not to visit the BVI or whether local government requested the UK Minister not to come ‘at this time’.
Meanwhile, the Premier’s explanation did not sit well with some social media users.
“This is what pi**es off the masses. Mr Premier will tell you 25 percent of the story and then leave the people to wonder what is so wrong in saying why the timing was not right. You really making it worse, smh,” one user said while replying to Dr Smith’s post yesterday (May 4).
Another user wrote: “Something subversive happening and the visit by the British Lord would have been inconvenient and perhaps caused uncomfortable questions requiring answers to have been given. Of course, that is only a guess as no answers have been forthcoming … But, with luck, they are being formulated in the ‘creative department’.”
The public registers controversy
The BVI has been at odds with the UK since the British parliament passed a Bill that is forcing the BVI and other Overseas Territories to implement what are known as public registers of company beneficial ownership.
These registers mean the BVI is required to publicise the names of beneficial owners of offshore companies registered in the territory.
Effectively, beneficial ownership is a legal term where specific property rights belong to a person even though the legal title of the property is in another person’s name.
Publicising the names of these beneficial owners could discourage them from doing business with the BVI as it relates to financial services.
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