The U.K. Parliament approved the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill Tuesday, which aims to combat money-laundering. However, the new legal measures, which will adversely affect the financial services of its former colonies or current overseas territories in the Caribbean, has been condemnded by the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, associate members – Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands – and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, or OECS.
The OECS issued a statement that read: “While we recognize and respect the sovereign right of the U.K. to determine its national legislation, our concern centres on those provisions which are discriminatory to the BVI and which contravene the constitutional arrangement between the BVI and the UK by which financial services are formally entrusted to the democratically elected BVI Government when the new Constitution was agreed in 2007.”
It went on to state that “the passage of these provisions effectively disenfranchises the BVI people and will undermine the constitutional relationship between the BVI and the UK.”
The amendment requires that the U.K. government take measures in order for British Overseas Territories to implement registers that would make the beneficial ownership of companies public, according to Caribbean 360.
The OECS pointed out that Britain’s crown dependencies - Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man – were exempt from the legal requirement to implement registers of the beneficial ownership of companies, “thus appearing to specifically target the Caribbean at a time when several of our member states are still reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.”