Overseas territories furious at UK’s ‘colonial era’ register
By Tom Carnegie, 2 May 18
The British Overseas Territories (BOTs) have slammed the UK Government for trying to force public registers of beneficial owners on the jurisdictions, describing it as an act of “constitutional overreach” and an “unacceptable act of modern colonialism”.
On 1 May, the UK Government backed an amendment to the anti-money laundering bill, meaning that BOTs must introduce public registers that disclose who owns the assets in companies registered in each jurisdiction.
If a territory fails to introduce such a register by the end of 2020, it would be forced to via a rarely-used, legally-binding order from the Queen’s Privy Council.
The BOTs have now hit back at the amendment, with a collective sentiment the amendment undermines constitutional independence.
The British Virgin Islands premier Orlando Smith said the public register “destroys any trust between the BVI and the United Kingdom”.
While Cayman Islands premier Alden McLaughlin said it is “reminiscent of the worst injustices of a bygone era of colonial despotism”.
McLaughlin said it was also unfair to impose the amendment on the BOTs but not the crown dependencies.
Click through the slides to see the reactions of:
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands