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UK Parliament's decision 'robs us of our dignity’ – Lorna G. Smith

- believes the UK thinks the territory has something to hide
Lorna G. Smith OBE, Executive Director of BVI Finance, expressed that the United Kingdom Parliament's decision on Public Registers was based on 'misinformation and emotions'. Photo: VINO/File
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill brought before the House of Commons was spearheaded by Dame Margaret E. Hodge. Photo: Internet Source
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill brought before the House of Commons was spearheaded by Dame Margaret E. Hodge. Photo: Internet Source
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill debated in the House of Commons on May 1, 2018 saw the United Kingdom Government of Theresa M. May make a major U-turn in accepting public ownership registers for UK overseas territories. This could in effect hurt offshore jurisdictions, including in the Virgin Islands Photo: BVIFSC
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill debated in the House of Commons on May 1, 2018 saw the United Kingdom Government of Theresa M. May make a major U-turn in accepting public ownership registers for UK overseas territories. This could in effect hurt offshore jurisdictions, including in the Virgin Islands Photo: BVIFSC
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Following the interview on the BBC’s radio programme with Member of the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament Dame Margaret E. Hodge over the financial services sector on Tuesday May 1, 2018, Lorna G. Smith OBE, Executive Director of BVI Finance, expressed that the decision by the House of Commons to force UK Overseas Territories (OTs) to have Public Registers of Beneficial Ownership was based on “misinformation and emotions.”

She explained, “I think we need to make it clear that this isn’t a group of people or country that is trying to hold on to something that is illicit, that is criminal and we cannot emphasise enough the importance of our reputation and the fact that the BVI has been ahead of the curve in all of these areas. In fact, in terms of the UK itself, we are largely compliant in terms of the Financial Action Task Force. Also, we have met more of the recommendations than the United Kingdom, so we are way ahead of a number of the G7 [countries].”

The wife of Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), further explained that the VI has not received UK grant-in-aid since 1976 and this decision will essentially push us back to pre-1976.

“It is absolutely wrong. It robs us of our dignity. It robs us of our self-respect at a time when we are down, but after 40 years to have to go back cap in hand to go to the UK to be asking them to support us, it is untenable,” she emphasised.

Mrs Smith was at the time a guest on the Stay Woke show with Zoe J. Walcott-McMillan, aired on Saturday May 12, 2018 on ZBVI 780 AM and live streamed on the Ms Walcott-McMillan’s Facebook page. Also on the show was Ayana S. Hull, Author of the book 'Financial Services Demystified', Lawyer, co-writer and composer of the Territorial Song and member of the organising committee of the national march scheduled for May 24, 2018.

The executive director further explained that the Virgin Islands (VI) signed an entrustment letter with the United Kingdom (UK) that says if anything of significance of this nature should happen there should be widespread consultation, but pointed out that there was no consultation at all before the decision was made.

“There has never been that type of consultation. So it is wrong and it is a constitutional overreach and that is why we have to protest,” while noting that the government is working and looking at every possibility to make sure that the situation remains the same if the decision does not become a global standard.

Contribution of financial services to the VI

Meanwhile, Mrs Smith indicated that the decision will not just impact the territory’s financial services sector but it will impact the “world economy”.

“We know it contributes 80 cents out of a dollar and it might sound like a high number of people but 2000 jobs directly and then another $3,000 indirectly and it generates $300 million and the asset held by the BVI vehicle, they have a worldwide value of one and a half trillion [dollars], so it’s not like it is something that just the financial services industry is impacting the BVI, it is impacting the world economy.”

“It is not about any one person”

While drumming up support for the march, Mrs Smith noted that it is not about just one person but that one person had the idea and then it became a movement, adding that the march will be more effective if the other Overseas Territories show their support.

"As I have been always saying from day one, this march is going to be impactful. It has to have a lot of people joining in, the country has to join in. What will make it even more effective is if you have the support from the other Overseas Territories because it is not just the BVI that has been impacted but certainly all the OTs and it will have that much more impact if they were to become involved."

14 Responses to “UK Parliament's decision 'robs us of our dignity’ – Lorna G. Smith”

  • ccc (14/05/2018, 11:35) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    at least with zoe the interview was better than the one she had in London lol
  • dude (14/05/2018, 11:37) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply
    The march gonna do a damn thing. This is the same UK Empire that they always were and doing things they've always been doing. We just thought their words meant something that it didn't. They will never allow us to compete equally with them.
    • Fran (16/05/2018, 08:30) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      Margaret Hodge is full of crap. Who has more dirt on their hands than them ? They have murders of innocent people on their hands, colonialism, capitalism, racism, money laundering, and down right dirty politics. They have brutally enslaved our people and made us build their structures on our backs from free labor. Now they want to kick us out of Europe after we have been there for generations, saying our paper work was not straight, when they themselves made the paper work and knew they were going to do this to us again. Our First Lady Lorna Smith was right and glad she went their and told Margaret’s rass off. The UK is trying to bankrupt us by killing 80% of our income, then gave us a loan to pay back, knowing they are destroying our economy. I for one am not fooled by them at all and we should be able to go to the United Nations and sue them. She is supposed to be our mother country? What kind of mother treats her child this wavy unless they are brain damaged and don’t know better? Sick of them!
  • 24/7 (14/05/2018, 11:57) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    The consultation was intended for our local government to consult with us on legislative matters, which up to this day never happens. We get 1st, 2nd and 3rd readings in one sitting of the house of assembly without one town hall meeting with the public. Is the UK watching? Yes. We the Virgin Islanders want transparency, accountability, good governance and most of all the appearance and reality of justice for all.
  • Reptiles (14/05/2018, 12:51) Like (23) Dislike (1) Reply
    Ndp robbed us of our dignity. Never heard a corrupt set whine over money so well sah. Calm down lorny.
  • Really? (14/05/2018, 13:52) Like (23) Dislike (1) Reply
    What dignity is there to rob in a land where cronyism and corruption rule and where there is zero accountability? Is the BVI prepared to walk away from the $ 300 million loan guarantee from the UK?
    • Rubber Duck (14/05/2018, 19:25) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
      You mean the UK of course with your references to cronyism and corruption.
  • Lorna (14/05/2018, 14:03) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    "DO NOT INTERRUPT ME NOW!" -iconic
  • ndp (14/05/2018, 14:37) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    What happened to planning for the worst, hey ---best case is we keep every things as is( perfect life goes on), but what if they decide to crush 60+% of our economy. What options are available to us-Legal steps, develop other industry, independence What....for years this govt spoke about the risk being pose to us but it seem like they have no back up plans.
  • Political Observer (PO) (14/05/2018, 15:59) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    Undoubtedly, financial services is a core component of the BVI economic base and its decline would adversely impact government delivery of services, along with standard of living and quality of life of residents. However, its contribution should have been anticipated. The territory, along with some other OTs, have been labeled as tax havens by developed countries, reducing the national income of these countries. Faced with revenue reductions, these countries will take the necessary action(s) to stop the revenue loss. The register of beneficial ownership will benefit the UK and cause a loss for the BVI. As such, what action should the BVI take?

    IMO, the scorched earth approach is not the most probable action. The ready-fire-aim approach is also not an effective action. Effective diplomacy should be employed to try to achieve the desired outcome. Marches occur for several reasons 1)to demonstrate populace disdain for an issue, 2) to highlight an issue, 3)force an entity to reverse some course, 4) force an entity go in a different direction than planned......etc. If the UK does not meet the BVI demand, what leverage does it have?
  • facts man (14/05/2018, 17:30) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
    The issue ms smith speak about is serious but the ndp gang lack credibilty
  • cromwell (14/05/2018, 21:15) Like (14) Dislike (2) Reply
    Sorry, the First Lady has no room to bring up the subject of dignity, BVI Customs, Immigration and Labour are the worst offenders of dignity violations on the planet, take a casual walk down past those departments to see the relevance. Perhaps a little of what the BVI dishes out might exercise people's minds.
  • Paisano (15/05/2018, 19:31) Like (1) Dislike (8) Reply
    Go to hell Cromwell. You darn ingrate.
    • cromwell (16/05/2018, 11:49) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Clearly you are a minority, perhaps you should think that through.


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