Stop spinning these false narratives
This is a rebuttal, in a small part, to the extensive article entitled “Future of Britain and the OTs: soft colonialism or modern partnership?” published on November 28.
It’s the paragraph below that I find misinformed and/or misleading, especially to an unsuspecting public who may summarise that the British may have an agenda contrary and/or detrimental to the interests of OTs.
“The OTs’ discontent was amplified by the exclusion of the Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man from the British legislation, despite these jurisdictions also being among the so-called ‘offshore’ centres that fly the Union Jack, which supposedly should be aligned with Britain. The exclusion of the Channel Islands and inclusion of the OTs demonstrated the clear bias of British decision-makers against the OTs.”
The islands of Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey that have “offshore centres” are Crown Dependencies, and that is the key difference in history and status from the former “colonies” now known as Overseas Territories.
History: the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, etc, were owned by the Duchy of Normandy and passed to the English Crown when William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066.
Status: Crown Dependencies have evolved through royal prerogatives, conventions and, of course, acts of British legislation.
CDs and OTs are not alike just because we all “ ... fly the Union Jack”, for the CDs were never “colonies” of the United Kingdom.
We must stop spinning false narratives that are more harmful to our cause on beneficial ownership registries.
The British must find this repeatedly false narrative not only irksome but also totally ill-informed.
For the record, the OTs, especially Bermuda, have profited immensely from having legal, accounting/auditing and banking operations or firms in the CDs, both strategic benefits and direct financial profits.
Moreover, when the British were drafting their new legislation, the CDs advocated immediately for changes or tweaks for their protection, and they were successful as they were given special concessions.
To the credit of Britain, British parliamentarians gave the OTs, or at least Bermuda, the opportunity to engage, advocate, ask and answer questions, make recommendations, etc in an appearance before the parliamentary committee before the legislation became law, Bermuda adamantly declined.
The Cayman has now publicly stated that it will make its beneficial ownership registries fully compliant in openness and transparency.
Perhaps the leader of Cayman looks ahead and clearly understands when it is time to change course rather than attempt to resuscitate a dying business model.
Why the narrative “when it becomes a global standard of open beneficial ownership registries, the OTs [or, in our case Bermuda] will comply” is nonsensical?
That narrative is tantamount to “when there are global immigration standards, Bermuda will comply”.
It is neither an exercise in metric tables nor conditions of universal conformity, but policy that continues to encourage secrecy, taxation on profits diversion, and could mask underlying crimes or highly unethical behaviour.
So it has direct impact on the collection of taxes, and that determines whether and how much islands and countries will receive in foreign aid.
In other words, its impact is full circle, as it negatively doubles down on those who need aid the most urgently or those islands in quest of stability and sustainability — the very issue that you advocate for.
VALIRIE MARCIA AKINSTALL
NB: I would like to thank David Johnson for his post to the original article, as his comments clearly set out why Bermuda needs to stop living in a glass bubble.
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