ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands, May 1, CMC – The British Virgin islands (BVI) Tuesday appealed to United Kingdom legislators to re-think their positions regarding new legislation that could seriously affect the future socio-economic development of the British Overseas Territory (BOT).
BVI chief diplomat Benito Wheatley has told UK government officials and parliamentarians that the United Kingdom’s current and future relationship with the Overseas Territories (OTs) “should be based on mutual respect and prosperity, particularly as Britain prepares to leave the European Union (EU) in March 2019.
“The UK Parliament will decide on whether it wants the Overseas Territories as economic partners or financial liabilities to the UK Treasury going forward. Choosing to arbitrarily damage the economies of the OT Financial Centres that are well run jurisdictions would be a mistake. The territories should be seen as economic assets to the UK that will help to keep Britain competitive after Brexit,” Wheatley said.
Both the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the St. Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have expressed concern at certain provisions of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill to be debated in the British Parliament on Tuesday.
Both the OECS and CARICOM said the Bill will have an effect on the financial services of the overseas countries and territories including Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Turks & Caicos Islands.
The BVI said that it has been urging UK legislators not to undermine the self-determination of the island and other OTs that hold responsibility for the regulation of their financial services industries and to not create an uneven playing field with the Crown Dependencies and other jurisdictions.
“The BVI has been of off UK grant-in-aid for 40 years and responsible for its own financial affairs. Any parliamentary attempts to undermine our self-determination as a people would be a retrograde step. We meet our international obligations as a jurisdiction in the areas of tax and transparency which should be celebrated,” said Wheatley.
The BVI said it has also remained engaged with the United Kingdom government to highlight the effectiveness of the BVI’s Beneficial Ownership Secure Search system (BOSSs) and robust regulation of the financial services industry.
“We have spared no effort in our outreach to ensure that all parties are clear on our effective beneficial ownership regime, favourable assessments by the FATF on anti-money laundering and good international cooperation with the UK and other jurisdictions,” said Wheatley, noting that Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith, has also been engaged in efforts to get London to change its policy.