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Taking away financial services a ‘human rights’ issue- Premier Smith

BVI Financial Services Commission (FSC): A public ownership register could have an adverse impact on the offshore financial sector of the Virgin Islands and the VI economy in the wake of its tourism sector being ravaged by the hurricanes of September 2017. Photo: VINO/File
A public ownership register for financial services being imposed on the Virgin Islands by the United Kingdom is a constitutional and human rights issue, says Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL). Photo: VINO
A public ownership register for financial services being imposed on the Virgin Islands by the United Kingdom is a constitutional and human rights issue, says Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL). Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- “Here we are as a Territory, we had one of the most severe natural disasters in a hundred years in the Caribbean and the BVI took the brunt of it. We had three things; flooding, plus Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which, left the Territory devastated. I think it was against human rights provisions to be able to now go and say we are going to take away the other part of your economy.”

This is according to Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), speaking at a Press Conference at Office of the Premier, Central Administration Complex, on May 2, 2018.

Premier Smith was asked by a reporter whether he would accept the proposed legal support from the United Kingdom to set up public registers of beneficial ownership for financial services.

The UK Government of Theresa M. May on May 1, 2018 surprisingly took a U-turn and supported an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, brought to the House of Commons by the Opposition, to make beneficial owners of offshore companies in the Overseas Territories (OTs) public. A public ownership register could have an adverse impact on the offshore financial sector of the Virgin Islands and the VI economy in the wake of its tourism sector being ravaged by the hurricanes of September 2017.

VI to seek legal advice

“We do not see that this is right constitutionally because when we negotiated the Constitution in 2007 there was a responsibility for things like financial services, tourism and many other things, dealing with matters of the Caribbean and so. It also said that any decision to have any policy that may interfere with those sectors there would first be a discussion with the BVI. So there is a constitutional matter.”

And, according to Premier Smith, just as the British Overseas Territories such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, the VI would be seeking advice from some of its constitutional experts on this matter.

“There is also the matter of privacy. I don’t think anyone would like to see their bank accounts being made public. And this is a major factor as well. There is also the question of human rights.”

Premier Smith had also said the decision by the UK Government to support the amendment to the Bill “does not speak well about the partnership” that exists between the VI and UK Governments.

There are now reports that a march is being planned to send a message to the UK about the VI people’s rejection of the UK House of Commons decision and that the Government of Dr Smith is expected to support the demonstration.

9 Responses to “Taking away financial services a ‘human rights’ issue- Premier Smith”

  • hello (07/05/2018, 09:51) Like (8) Dislike (3) Reply
    A human rights violation and violation of the law against me, was laid right on your table last year for you to do
    something about it. Never heard from you and nothing was corrected. The perpetrators continued to live and
    work in this territory for an infamous bank. Nice going Doc.
  • dude (07/05/2018, 09:52) Like (4) Dislike (15) Reply

    Listen to this j**k@$%. Let me inform you. Cancelling a dutty wine show b/c u didn't like it = human rights issue. Rasta law where dreads couldn't enter the territory = human rights issue. Not sharing the info on your UK negotiations with the ppl who elected u = human rights issue. Being denied industry access by the powers that be is not, find another industry, there is nothing the lawyers can do. Smith & Kanye seem to have the same problem. The lawyers won't take too long to tell you that there is no law to protect privacy. Eventually u will learn that there is no level playing field and that the white power agenda which is the world order we live in will always unite to look out for their own interests & genetics. U guys need to study history b/c u are clearly not aware of the environment in which you are operating.

    • Rubber Duck (07/05/2018, 14:39) Like (15) Dislike (3) Reply
      Throwing people out of their homes and off the island where they have made their lives is real a human rights issue.
  • Strong BackBone (07/05/2018, 10:15) Like (10) Dislike (2) Reply
    Firstly, such law should be questioned based on the legal principle of the "The rule of law", that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials. If the united Kingdom wants to enforce such law on the British Overseas Territories, such law needs to also be applicable in United Kingdom not only in British Overseas Territories. What's good for the goose is good for the gander

    Secondly, serious Breach of the Data Protection Act, unless the UK is planning to repeal same which will be contrary to human Rights

    Finally, the logic behind such law is that the British Overseas Territories has moneys from thieves, etc. flowing around, however, the world simply has to take a look at the "Ruby" found in the Royal crown and question its source and ask will a law be passed to answer this question?
  • Diplomat (07/05/2018, 14:59) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    The UK is requiring/implementing a register of beneficial ownership in the coming years on OTs and the VI is ascertaining this action as a human rights violation. Really! Let’s not abuse the term human rights. Per Wikiped:They are commonly understood as inalienable[3] fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being",[4] and which are "inherent in all human beings"[5] regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status.” True, a slumping financial services industry would impact national income but not too sure it is a human rights violation. The Premier and his staff should retreat to the war room, shut the door, and fleshout a game plan. The territory seems to be panicking and paralyzed with fear and uncertainity. We need a plan for today, tommorow and the future. A captain does not leave port without a float plan and neither does a pilot leaves an airport without a flight plan.

    For years many social commentators and others have been crying out for diversifying the economy but it seems the crying feel on deaf ears. Now the chickens have come home to roost. Financial services is dangling precarious and on the verge of tanking. Too many eggs put into financial services basket. Buckle up y’all.
  • Boo (07/05/2018, 17:41) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    I think we should go independent of NDP next elections.
  • Miss Mary Mac (07/05/2018, 20:28) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    I could now legally say the Primier called himself a jack donkey


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