Opposition silent as corporate ‘surveillance’ Bill passes without debate

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The Leader of the Opposition Baldwin Spencer received no support from any of his senators when the Bill which he fiercely opposed in the Lower House of Parliament this week went before the Senate yesterday.
Spencer and three other Members of Parliament (MPs) singled out provisions of the Law Miscellaneous (Amendments) Bill 2017 because they said it imposed undue surveillance on local corporate entities to the benefit of international authorities.
In essence, the draft legislation would compel certain corporate entities to declare their true owners and controllers but the Bill – according to its own explanatory memorandum – is being adopted on the “recommendation” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
While Spencer believes its enactment could “run counter to our own developmental efforts” neither the Senate Minority Leader Harold Lovell nor Senator Shawn Nicholas seemed to take any issue with the Bill which passed all three readings without debate.
MP for St Georges Dean Jonas was the most vocal in his objections to the Bill.
He argued that the requirements introduced in the Bill are merely a few more
additions to an already existing compendium of undue and invasive “surveillance” regulations designed to make Antigua & Barbuda less attractive and less economical to do business.
Jonas believes that international financial authorities under the thumb of countries like the Untied States (US) consistently “shift the goal post” so that Antigua & Barbuda can be considered non-compliant and its financial sector and financial services can be blacklisted.
The Law Miscellaneous (Amendments) Bill 2017 imposes the new requirement to declare beneficial ownership in a company into a total of nine existing Acts.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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