The Virgin Islands and other sister Territories have been given assurance that the rest of the Caribbean stands with them as they work towards mitigating the blow the United Kingdom’s proposed 2020 beneficial ownership order in council will have on their various economies.
The message of support was delivered during the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which was held at Montego Bay, Jamaica, July 4-6.
During the meeting, it was reported that the leaders of the CARICOM member countries observed with great concern the amendment approved by the UK House of Commons to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which requires the UK Government to ensure that the British Overseas Territories, but not the Crown Dependencies, establish public registers of beneficial ownership information by no later than 31 December 2020.
In addition to Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith, the other UK Overseas Territories Leaders in attendance were Premier of the Cayman Islands, Honourable Aiden McLaughlin; Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson; and Premier of Montserrat, Honourable Donaldson Romeo.
While stating concern about the UK amendment, the CARICOM Heads of Government announced their solidarity with the BVI and her sister territories adversely affected by what was described as a “unilateral action to legislate in areas of domestic policy constitutionally devolved to the territories without the consent and involvement of their people.”
The Heads of Government expressed that the UK’s move “ran counter to an alternative arrangement to public registers earlier negotiated and agreed with the UK Government and put in place at great cost to the Overseas Territories.”
Further, the Caribbean Heads of Government announced that they viewed this action as similar to the unilateral and punitive extra-territorial measures such as blacklisting and de-risking taken against their own countries’ financial services sector, also a critical aspect of their economies, despite their best efforts at transparency and compliance.
The Heads of Hovernment present at the meeting were the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Honourable Andrew Holness; Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Honourable Gaston Browne; Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Honourable Dr. Hubert Minnis; Prime Minister of Barbados, Honourable Mia Mottley; Prime Minister of Belize, Honourable Dean Barrow; Prime Minister of Dominica, Honourable Roosevelt Skerritt; Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Rt. Honourable Keith Mitchell; President of Guyana, His Excellency David Granger (Brigadier Ret); President of Haiti, His Excellency Jovenel Moïse; Premier of Montserrat, Honourable Donaldson Romeo; Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris; Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Honourable Allen Chastanet; Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves; President of Suriname, His Excellency Desire Bouterse; and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. the Honourable Keith.