BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORIES TO OPEN UP OWNERSHIP REGISTERS

The UK Parliament has passed an amendment to their money laundering legislation which makes the legislation applicable to the British Overseas Territories and would mean certain territories would have to change the way their banking systems work which could have a knock-on effect to the way of life in the territories.

The amendment would effectively force the overseas territories to make public the real owners of registered companies by 2020.

Ownership registers: who is effected?

Out of the 16 overseas territories, this legislation will only effect 4 of them; Bermuda, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and possibly Gibraltar. The others do not have sophisticated banking systems like those 4, although it could effect more in the future.

What has the UK done?

The UK Government originally wanted to work closer with the Overseas Territories to change their systems over the long-term without imposing law on them directly. However, when put to Parliament the Government conceded with a large opposition to force legislation on the territories.

The UK will exercise its power to legislate for the overseas territories - this is a reserved power for extreme circumstances. These territories are self-governed with their own elected Premier or Chief Minister and are not represented in the UK Parliament, they legislate for themselves and are their own country in their own respect. An act like this breaks the trust between the UK and the Overseas Territories and brings in the feeling of a colonial master again. The relationship the UK has with the Overseas Territories is very much a modern one with the UK only taking responsibility over their defence and foreign affairs (to a small extent) and should not interfere further than that.

Independence threat?

So far the Overseas Territories who will be largely effected have been questioning their very relationship with the UK and the Cayman Islands are looking into legal action.

The word independence has been thrown around in the UK as a predicted backlash. In the OTs they have been slightly more careful with their wording, the BVI Premier was quoted saying he was 'questioning' the relationship between the UK and BVI.

Bermuda has completely rejected the amendment, asking the UK to respect its constitution.

In reality there is very little to gain from independence, the UK doesn't interfere in the normal every day lives of the local governments and the citizens themselves don't always trust their local governments and appreciate the UK Governors being there to support and guide their respective Cabinets.

The Cayman Islands said they will take legal action, but again, there is nothing to gain from independence, they do enjoy a lot of benefits from being part of the UK.

Places like BVI, Anguilla, Turks & Caicos were recently ravaged by hurricanes which is becoming an annual event which the UK aids.

On the ground of the territories, there is little hunger for independence but the word is thrown around when large acts like this happen.

In Gibraltar, independence is never considered, they are so incredible staunchly British and the Bill would have little effect on them because they already have many transparency laws in place.

The last time the independence term was used was post-Brexit referendum in Anguilla in the Chief Minister's press release, he suggested independence may be the way to go depending on the negotiations. They have a border with French Saint Martin which dramatically effects them everyday, which is the only reason they were considering it.

Where does FOTBOT stand?

We supported the UK Government’s previous stance where they wanted to work closely to change the rules but not impose them without consultation which is what they have conceded to.

We are hugely disappointed with the move, based on the fact it infringes their freedoms and self-determination - these are self-governing territories and we agree that the UK imposing this law on them is wrong.

Last updated 8/5/2018 11:46

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