FOTBOT: ‘Being Forced On Them Is Problematic’

May 2, 2018

The Overseas Territories are “self-governing territories and the idea of legislation being forced upon them is problematic,” the Friends of the British Overseas Territories [FOTBOT] organisation said.

Their comments follow after the UK Government said it will support an amendment to order Overseas Territories to make their ownership registers publicly accessible.

The Bill seeks to use the UK’s power of an Order in Council to make the Overseas Territories introduce public ownership registers, by 2020, with the public registers to adhere to guidelines set by the UK.

Bermuda does maintain a register, and has for decades, with the main difference the UK is aiming to enforce is that the information must all be available to the public.

The matter has been discussed for years, with the Bermuda Government generally pointing out that the island has maintained a register of beneficial owners for over 70 years, provides the information to official bodies at request and is willing to make it public once it becomes world standard.

In an online posting yesterday, the Friends of the British Overseas Territories said, “The UK Government conceded to introduce public ownership registers for its overseas territories.

“This means the UK will be forcing legislation on Overseas Territories which is only reserved for in extreme circumstances.

“The UK Government opposed forcing the legislation however conceded due to the level of opposition in the House of Commons.

“FOTBOT sees this as a huge constitutional crisis. The Overseas Territories are self-governing territories and the idea of legislation being forced upon them is problematic.

“This legislation has the potential to damage small island communities, jobs and force businesses to take their work elsewhere.

“We should also add that this type of debate brings down the world-class reputation of the overseas territories. These are truly beautiful places, most do not even have substantial banking systems.

“We await to see the response of this legislation from our brothers and sisters in Bermuda, Cayman Island and the British Virgin Islands.”

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