Leaders of jurisdictions known collectively as the British overseas territories (BOTs) are talking with UK parliamentary officials in an attempt to try and reverse the UK government’s decision to impose public registers of share ownership in all of the territories.

The UK parliament voted at the beginning of May for legislation that requires BOTs to make public the real owners of all their registered companies by the end of 2020 (Trade-based Financial Crime, 2 May 2018).

Widespread resistance

Several BOTs, including the Isle of Man, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Cayman Islands, are seen as tax havens and are concerned that the enforcement of an end to tax secrecy will seriously damage their financial services industries.

Resistance to the vote has triggered legal action and threats to demand constitutional separation. Some BOTs claim the recent vote infringes the constitutional right of the islands to oversee their own domestic legislation.


The vote to impose public registers of share ownership in all of the BOTs has even triggered protests. More than 1,000 demonstrated in the BVI in protest against the enforced law changes.

The Cayman Islands and BVI are both intending to counter the UK’s planned changes to the legislation, known as the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act.