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Roban in London for talks with UK

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London meetings: Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, is in London for meetings with the UK and Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council (File photograph)

The Deputy Premier is in London to represent Bermuda in meetings with Britain and the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council.

Walter Roban and Kimberley Durrant, Bermuda’s London Office director and representative in the UK, are attending the meetings focused on European negotiations.

A government spokesman said discussions were expected to include an update on Britain’s constitutional relationship with the Overseas Territories.

He added: “The JMC is focusing on issues relating to the Overseas Territories and Britain’s impending exit from the European Union.

“Formal discussions are expected to include an update on the Brexit talks and Britain’s constitutional relationships with the Overseas Territories.

“There are a number of other matters up for discussion including disaster management.”

Mr Roban, who is also the Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, attended a pre-JMC meeting, chaired by the Falkland Islands and hosted by the UK Overseas Territories Association, this morning.

The spokesman added: “He and Ms Durrant were then scheduled to meet in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK’s Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

“Lord Ahmad also hosts a reception for the visitors in the Map Room of the FCO tonight, in advance of tomorrow’s JMC.”

The Guardian reported that representatives from the British Virgin Islands were headed to London for talks about the British Government’s decision to compel OTs to make their company ownership registries public.

According to the newspaper, the BVI group is led by its deputy premier, Kedrick Pickering, and has instructed legal counsel to prepare a challenge on the basis that the British Parliament has overreached itself.

The move came after the British Government accepted an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill last month.

The key new clause in the Bill states that: “For the purposes of the detection, investigation or prevention of money laundering, the Secretary of State must provide all reasonable assistance to the governments of the British Overseas Territories to enable each of those governments to establish a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies registered in each government’s jurisdiction.

“The Secretary of State must, no later than 31 December 2020, prepare a draft Order in Council requiring the government of any British Overseas Territory that has not introduced a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies within its jurisdiction to do so.”

David Burt said last month that the move marked a “significant backwards step” in relations between Britain and its Overseas Territories.

The Premier added: “The Government of Bermuda has a strong constitutional position and the people of Bermuda can rest assured that we will take the necessary steps to ensure our constitution is respected.”

But The Guardian reported that Andrew Mitchell, the former Conservative international development secretary and a leading MP behind the rebellion, said on Tuesday: “The Overseas Territories share our Queen, they travel under our flag and they must also share our values.”

The newspaper added that he intends, with the former chairwoman of the public accounts committee, Margaret Hodge, to press Crown dependencies to accept the same regime.

Beside the Thames: representatives from British Overseas Territories are headed to London (Photograph by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)