31 May 2018


Statement: Premier Donaldson Romeo Of Montserrat 

Following the decision by Britain’s House of Commons, to pass the amendments to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill 2017-2019, which now mandates Montserrat and other British Overseas Territories to introduce public registers of beneficial ownership of companies by 2020, I think it is necessary to state, up front, my concern that this may very well set in motion a worrying precedent for future legislative changes in Montserrat and other British Overseas Territories.

Despite recent pronouncements by the UK of a renewed partnership with the Overseas Territories, this action was certainly to the contrary as it shows a lack of trust and disregard for the Montserrat Constitution. Especially since the UK Crown Dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man (which are significant offshore financial services centres) are exempted from the requirement. This has already led to concerns about double-standards.

I must make it very clear, that even without the UK’s legislative intervention, Montserrat has been governing its financial affairs in accordance with international standards and we will continue to do so. In simple terms, we did not need legislation from the UK to mandate us to comply with international standards for our financial affairs, as we have been adapting and complying to these standards for a number of years.

In response to the call by the global community, in 2013 Montserrat published its Action Plan to implement Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations to prevent the misuse of companies and legal entities. The Government of Montserrat, in honouring our commitment, has confirmed to the international community that it already has a public registry of legal entities and has taken steps to ensure that legislative provisions are introduced to obtain the beneficial owners of all registered companies.

The requirement for companies to provide beneficial ownership information is already provided for in our Companies Bill 2018, which had its first reading in the Montserrat Legislative Assembly in January 2018, with the second and third readings to follow. With this Bill enacted, Montserrat will be fully compliant with FATF Recommendations 23 and 24.

By this, the Government of Montserrat confirms to the international community, of which the UK is a part, that:

1) Montserrat does already have a Public Registry of legal entities and

2) had already begun the further legislative process to make beneficial ownership of companies registered in Montserrat, public.

So, even without this legislation, the Government of Montserrat has been working to ensure that we operate in a sound and transparent manner.
Additionally, the commitments Montserrat made exceed current Financial Action Task Force standards for combating money laundering and countering the funding of terrorists and terrorist organisations. These bilateral arrangements put us ahead of most jurisdictions, including many of the G20 countries and some states in the United States of America. 

Moreover, Montserrat is also compliant with the international standard which is set out in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Global Forum’s Terms of Reference for the implementation of the standard of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. To this end, Montserrat is an Early Adoptor of the Automatic Exchange of Information of the Common Reporting Standard and has entered into Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) with 11 countries and Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) with two (2) countries.
Consequently, there would be no need for the U.K. to apply Orders in Council to mandate that Montserrat establish a Public register of beneficial owners of legal entities.

I wish to strongly affirm that Montserrat’s implementation of the international standards for combatting money laundering and countering terrorism financing gives Montserrat a level of transparency and openness, which puts us in an ideal position to attract investors to our Financial Services sector. 

So rather than seeking to legislate for the Overseas Territories and risk damaging the longstanding constitutional arrangements with respect to our autonomy, especially since Montserrat is already compliant with international standards, the UK should choose instead to continue to partner with Montserrat and the OTs, in the spirit of our bilateral arrangements and legislative efforts as they relate to openness and transparency in our Financial Services sector.

It is important to note that the imposition of this legislation was not supported by many UK Members of Parliament, who spoke very passionately against the bill. For example, the Hon Lord Ahmad (who is the FCO Minister for the British Overseas Territories) led the House of Lords debate in defeating the imposition of the very same Bill on BoTs. However, once there was sufficient support for the bill among backbenchers in the House of Commons, the UK Governing Majority – facing defeat – withdrew from opposing the Bill. 

Clearly, I have shown that Montserrat, even without the UK’s legislative intervention, has been governing its financial affairs in accordance with international standards and we will continue to do so. 

As such, we are demonstrably capable of enacting our own legislation in accordance with our constitutional and democratic right, to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Montserrat.

Thank You.

23 May 2018


We are deeply disturbed by the decision in the United Kingdom which threatens to impose public registers on the BVI.
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill received the Royal Assent and became an Act today, May 23.
We believe this is a deeply flawed policy because we have the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System (BOSSs) which balances privacy and transparency – two fundamental elements which underpin our globally recognised and internationally compliant approach to beneficial ownership information.
The Government of the Virgin Islands is committed to pursuing all available legal channels to ensure that publicly available beneficial ownership registers are introduced in the BVI only if and when they become a global standard, which would establish a level playing field for all.
According to the rule of law and the BVI’s constitution, the fundamental rights of privacy of all persons, including citizens and corporate entities, must be protected and upheld.
Honourable Fahie joined me on the delegation which went to express our views in London. His presence and continued engagement is testament to the unified approach we are taking to tackle this together as a Territory.
My Government remains focused on the fight against financial crime and ensuring that law enforcement authorities have access to verified beneficial ownership information.
It will also do all in its power to ensure that the financial services sector remains an integral part of the BVI’s economic future.

14 May 2018


"The nation is in a state of grief and sadness today over the passing of the late Sir Emile Rudolph Gumbs, Anguilla’s second and longest serving Chief Minister. Sir Emile served as Chief Minister from 1977 to 1980 and later from 1984 to 1994. He was a central figure in the early days of the Anguilla Revolution and was a Member of the Peace-Keeping Committee that ensured a smooth transition to law and order during those turbulent times.

Even as we mourn the loss of this fallen patriot we recognize that our grief and sadness can in no measure compare with that being experienced by his dear wife, Lady Josephine Gumbs who has been with him through many of the changing situations of his life. She has indeed been a pillar of strength and unwavering support until the very end. Our prayers are with her, his children Catherine and Larry as well as the entire family circle, as they persevere through this difficult period.

Sir Emile has touched the lives of Anguillans from all walks of life through his service both in Government and in the wider community. We will especially remember him for his sterling contribution to charting the course for Anguilla as a five star tourism destination. We thank him for the calmness and civility of his leadership style that has been the distinguishing mark of his service to the people of Anguilla. He was indeed a great statesman.

His passion for boats and boating was legendary. And his exploits in these pastimes earned him the respectful name: “Captain Dickie”. He was deeply immersed in Anguilla’s rich culture and tradition of the sea --- and he had countless tales to tell. I know that many keen boat-racing enthusiasts will be thinking of him especially during these upcoming Anguilla Day Celebrations.

We will all be saddened, by his untimely passing. But let us not to be unmindful of the supremacy of God’s plan even as we express our feelings of bereavement.

My prayers are with all of us but most especially with his dear wife and family whose sense of loss and bereavement we can never truly imagine in these moments and during the days, weeks, months and years ahead.

May his soul rest in peace.

Victor F. Banks

13 May 2018


                 MEETINGS COVERAGE
9 MAY 2018

Participants in Pacific Regional Seminar Call for Renewed Focus on Helping Non-Self-Governing Territories Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

SAINT GEORGES, Grenada, 9 May — As the Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization opened today, participants called for renewed focus on supporting the Non-Self-Governing Territories to achieve the objectives laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, bearing in mind the need for greater collaboration in addressing the unique challenges faced by each Territory.
Walton Alfonso Webson (Antigua and Barbuda), Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization, called attention to this this year’s theme: “Implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism: towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Non-Self-Governing Territories: social, economic and environmental challenges”.
Following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, he recalled, the Special Committee had engaged in fruitful discussions, stressing the importance of fostering the economic and social sustainable development of the Territories.  He also recalled that in the concluding observations from the last Seminar, the Special Committee acknowledged that climate change had exposed many of the Territories to even greater environmental and economic vulnerability.  Given the cross-cutting nature of the challenges confronting some Territories, efforts must be made for the continued strengthening of administrative capacity, good governance and economic sustainability, he said.
Carlyle Corbin, expert, told the Special Committee that the Sustainable Development Goals were constructs of the General Assembly, and for Non-Self-Governing Territories, the fundamental question remaining was how to interface with those United Nations mechanisms designed for independent States.  The extent to which the Territories could realize the Goals was directly related to the extent to which the United Nations system could provide the political space for their engagement, which would require a better system of accountability for the implementation of United Nations resolutions on the issue, he said.  Achieving the Goals would heighten the possibilities for further political advancement towards the full measure of self-government, he added.
Indonesia’s representative said it was essential to put in place a mechanism that would enable implementation of the Goals, and in that context, the Special Committee should undertake its discussions on the future development agenda in parallel with its decolonization efforts, bearing in mind the need for collaboration among all stakeholders under the principle of inclusiveness.
Papua New Guinea’s delegate noted that the Seminar’s theme was extremely timely and pertinent as countries sought to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  There were some 1.7 million peoples in the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories and their lives and livelihoods, human rights, dignity and natural resources were at stake, he emphasized.
The Seminar held four discussions throughout the day, addressing the following topics: the “role of the Special Committee in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Non-Self-Governing Territories towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”; “political developments and the Sustainable Development Goals in the Non-Self-Governing Territories” in the Caribbean and other regions; and the “role of the United Nations system in helping the Non-Self-Governing Territories to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”.


10 MAY 2018

Ensuring Non-Self-Governing Territories Can Address Challenges Key to Moving Decolonization Efforts Forward, Secretary-General Tells Regional Seminar

SAINT GEORGES, Grenada, 10 May — Noting that “decolonization is still incomplete”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the 2018 Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization today that ensuring the Non-Self-Governing Territories were able to address a host of economic, social and environmental challenges would be the key to moving forward in their decolonization efforts.
In a message delivered by Josiane Ambiehl, Chief of the Decolonization Unit in the Department of Political Affairs, the Secretary-General noted that the Seminar’s particular focus on the Sustainable Development Goals in the context of the Non-Self-Governing Territories was especially timely.
He continued:  “This Regional Seminar is an opportunity to examine the situations in the remaining 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories from the political perspective and to consider the socioeconomic, environmental and cultural challenges that are relevant for the completion of the respective decolonization processes.”
The Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were a blueprint for a common future of peace and prosperity, he said, emphasizing that “for the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories facing the challenges of climate change, access to health care, diversification of economies, conservation of marine resources and scarcity of drinking water, implementing the Agenda is of particular importance”.
Peter David, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Labour of Grenada, said that the decolonization of the remaining Territories was “unfinished business” for the United Nations and remained integral to all regional integration processes.  The 2018 theme for the Seminar was highly relevant and the event could influence the future course of the decolonization process, he added.
Grenada attached great significance to the work of the Special Committee on Decolonization, he continued, pointing out that the country had itself travelled along the decolonization path.  The eradication of colonialism must remain high on the United Nations agenda, bearing in mind the principles enshrined in the Organization’s Charter.
At the start of the decolonization process, almost a third of the world lived in colonies, but since that time, more than 80 colonies had gained independence, he stated.  Yet, there were still 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories, most of them in the Caribbean.
He went on to caution that the unilateral imposition of policies could have serious effects on the sustainable development aspirations of those Territories and impede their capacity to achieve the Goals.  Non-Self-Governing Territories remained vulnerable to natural disasters, including hurricanes and cyclones, he said, recalling the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. 

01 May 2018


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — British Virgin Islands diplomat Najan Christopher has welcomed confirmation from CARIFORUM director general Percival Marie that the BVI is eligible for associate membership in the regional body that is tasked with engaging in policy dialogue with the European Union on behalf of a number of Caribbean states.

The confirmation came at a CARIFORUM regional consultation in Barbados from April 11-12, which focused on establishing an effective platform for dialogue between CARIFORUM and French Caribbean Outermost Regions (ORs) and British and Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

“We welcome that associate membership is open to the BVI. This status would give us a more meaningful status in CARIFORUM whereby we can participate in the Caribbean’s policy dialogue with the EU and regional coordination. At the moment we remain an observer,” Christopher said.

According to the BVI government, the BVI will likely no longer be an OCT after Britain exits the EU in March 2019. In response, the government is seeking to replicate the BVI’s current relationship with the EU through CARIFORUM and other regional mechanisms.

Christopher, who is the BVI’s diplomatic lead in the region, said of the regional consultation, “My participation supports government’s policy response to Brexit. We are seeking to preserve as many of the existing benefits the BVI currently enjoys as an OCT with the EU. We also see a great benefit in the prospect of coordinating on EU issues with our neighbours in the region. Our next step is to assess the requirements of CARIFORUM associate membership in preparation to upgrade our status.”

She also highlighted that the BVI government will remain engaged with CARIFORUM and follow-up on the outcomes of the regional consultation.

Christopher is the BVI government’s assistant secretary for external affairs in the Premier’s Office. She is responsible for Caribbean affairs and covers CARIFORUM, CARICOM, OECS and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). She is also the BVI’s OECS commissioner and diplomat to CARICOM.

CARIFORUM is the Caribbean Forum of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group. Its member states include Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.


After relief debacle, Puerto Rico’s governor 

looks for political revenge in Florida

Yahoo News

ORLANDO, FLA.—Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló reached his breaking point three months after Hurricane Maria laid waste to the U.S. territory on Sept. 20, wrecking its power grid, damaging most of its dwellings and triggering a mass exodus of residents to the U.S. mainland.
Still in his first year in office, Rosselló had already seen his share of daunting challenges by the time Maria made landfall as a Category 4 storm. He inherited a massive debt crisis and, fewer than two weeks earlier, had watched Hurricane Irma knock out power to millions. The second storm that month proved even more powerful, and suddenly Rosselló found himself thrust into cringe-worthy photo ops with President Trump, including an Oct. 19 Oval Office meeting during which the president gave his own administration a perfect 10 for its underwhelming relief efforts, then urged the reluctant governor to publicly do the same.
It wasn’t until Dec. 19, however, that Rosselló fully realized that securing Puerto Rico’s future meant he would have to get involved in mainland politics in a way that no other governor had before him. Though he had spent weeks explaining to members of Congress why stripping tax breaks from manufacturers operating in Puerto Rico would deal the island a “crippling blow,” his pleas ultimately fell on deaf ears as Republicans looked to give Trump his first substantive legislative victory and passed a tax reform bill that did just that.