High-level talks in London today (2 May) as Cayman and other Overseas Territories express outrage over the UK Government’s decision to seek to force the creation of public beneficial ownership registries here.
Cayman’s UK representative Eric Bush said he and representatives from OTs including Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar and Turks and Caicos met with Overseas Territories Minister Lord Ahmad and his team in London today on the issue of forcing Cayman and other OTs to create public beneficial ownership registries. Yesterday the UK Government agreed to an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill that could see Orders in Council issued against Cayman and other Overseas Territories if public beneficial registries are not created by 31 December 2020. The actual bill is yet to be passed.
Mr. Bush told Cayman 27 concern over the amendment was expressed. If created it allows the names of anyone who owns companies or assets in the Cayman Islands to be made public.
Mr. Bush also addressed the issue on BBC Radio this morning.
“The actions taken yesterday (1 May) is certainly a blow to the relationship. It shows a lack of trust, it shows a lack of disrespect and disregard to the Constitution and the agreements and longstanding trust and mutual respect,” Mr. Bush told BBC Radio.
Mr. Bush told Cayman 27 discussions are still ongoing on the issue in London.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said on Government radio today that Government has retained two UK senior constitution attorneys to advise Cayman on the issue. He assured Cayman will not give-up without a fight.
Meanwhile, we reached out to Governor H.E. Anwar Choudhury for comment on this latest development.
He is currently in the British Virgin Islands. But his office said he spoke to Premier McLaughlin by phone this morning.
The Governor’s Office issued a brief statement on the issue and said, “The UK will use its best endeavours, diplomatically and with international partners, including through multilateral fora (such as the G20, FATA and the OECD), to promote public registers of company beneficial ownership as the global standard.”
Meanwhile, Cayman’s Opposition has expressed solidarity with the Government to challenge the UK’s decision on creating public beneficial ownership registries here. Tonight Opposition Leader Hon. Ezzard Miller and Boddden Town West MLA Chris Saunders addressed the issue with Cayman 27’s Kevin Morales and Reshma Ragoonath.