By Mellica McPherson-Ganda
In the hours leading up to the first global Anti-Corruption Summit there was media covergage in the foreign press debating and highlighting the fact that the BVI and Panama were not invited to the discussion.
The international Anti-Corruption Summit which is being hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron commenced in the United Kingdom on 12 May, and is heralded as a landmark event as it is expected to bring together world leaders, business and civil society with the hope of fostering an agreement.
It was announced that the summit is aimed at exposing corruption so there is no way to hide, punishing the perpetrators and supporting those affected by corruption to drive out the culture of corruption wherever it exists.
Days before the summit convened the UK press opined that it was interesting that the British Virgin Islands and Panama – the two countries centred in the recent “Panama Papers” data leak were not invited to the event.
At least six UK media houses reported that the Territory will not be attending the summit. The International Business Times wrote: “The first worldwide anti-corruption summit, that will see international leaders from major countries gathering in London on Thursday, 12 May, has already run into controversy, as it was revealed that two major tax havens – Panama and British Virgin Islands – have not been invited to the inaugural global meeting.”
True News stated: “Leaders from around the world will gather in London later this week for an anti-corruption summit, but two countries known for their tax havens – Panama and the British Virgin Islands – have not been invited.”
However, while the international media noted the Territory’s absence from the event, the local press was informed on Monday that the BVI was very supportive of the endeavour.
In a statement issued by Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith on Monday the local media was informed that the event was timely and that BVI supports initiative.
Hon. Smith said “On Thursday, the United Kingdom Government will convene an Anti-Corruption Summit in London, bringing together policymakers, business leaders, NGOs and representatives of law enforcement from around the world. This first-of-its-kind gathering aims to send a powerful global message that corruption anywhere is a threat to the security, safety and well-being of people everywhere. The BVI applauds this effort.”
“Prime Minister Cameron is to be commended for his leadership and commitment to this vital cause. As a leading international financial centre, the BVI has long understood and embraced our unique responsibility to work with nations around the world to combat the flow of illegal money across the global financial system,” Hon. Smith added.