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 the British Virgin Islands and other Overseas Territories were assured that the region will support them in the push back against the United Kingdom’s imposition of a register for beneficial ownership.
The meeting’s communique announced that CARICOM heads of governments expressed concern about the amendment that was approved by the UK House of Commons to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill to require that British Overseas Territories establish public registers of beneficial ownership information by no later than 31 December 2020.
The leaders were reportedly concerned that the UK crown dependencies were exempted from the amendment. Further, the communique stated that the heads of government are troubled about what they termed as a “unilateral action to legislate in areas of domestic policy constitutionally devolved to the territories without the consent and involvement of their people,” on the UK part.
In announcing solidarity with the Overseas Territories the Heads of Government expressed that the UK 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.”
Additionally, 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 39th CARICOM Heads of Government meeting was attended by: Premier, and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith, Premier of the Cayman Islands, Honourable Aiden McLaughlin; Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Premier of Montserrat, Honourable Donaldson Romeo, 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; 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 Rowley.