Richards claim of UK bias not to be dismissed’
A Jersey politician has said that Bob Richards’s claim of racial bias in Britain’s differing treatment of its Overseas Territories and its Crown Dependencies should not be dismissed.
Deputy Kristen Morel, who chairs Jersey’s Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel, responded to comments made by Bermuda’s former finance minister in an article in The Royal Gazette last month.
Mr Richards said Britain had been racially biased against its OTs, in that the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man were treated more favourably with regard to company ownership transparency. Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, has raised similar concerns.
In 2018, the British Parliament passed laws requiring the OTs to publish fully transparent registers, but legislation relating to the CDs was withdrawn.
Mr Morel tweeted about Mr Richards’ comment: “This is a strongly held view in Bermuda and it’s one that we in the CDs should consider and not dismiss out of hand.”
Mr Morel later told the Jersey Evening Post: “It was raised with me by a member of the Bermuda House of Assembly when I was speaking at a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association event last year.
“When challenged at the event, it made me stop and think about the differing relationships between the Overseas Territories, the Crown Dependencies and the UK.
“On the spot, I was unable to either agree or disagree that there was a current of racism underpinning those relationships. I also realised and admitted that it was something I, and to be honest, I imagine most people in the Crown Dependencies, hadn’t really considered and so it shouldn’t be dismissed and should become a basis for discussion.”
Bermuda has since committed to making its company ownership register public by 2023, along with seven other OTs, while the British Virgin Islands wants to limit access to its ownership register to competent authorities only.
All three CDs, without a legislative threat from Britain, have committed to publicly accessible registers by 2023, in line with the European Union.
Mr Morel said: “Honestly, I’ve no idea whether the CDs get special treatment because I’ve never been involved in negotiations regarding ownership transparency.
“However, it is a fact that Jersey has a different constitutional relationship to the UK compared with that of Bermuda and Jersey also adopted a very clear stance early on, which meant that our position could be easily understood by the UK and the EU.”
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