United Kingdom legislators yesterday backed the amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill that the 15-member regional integration grouping, CARICOM, said could negatively impact the economies of some of its associate members.

Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said the Theresa May government had not wanted to damage the overseas territories’ autonomy by legislating directly.

Sir Allan said the government would “respect the will of the House” and not vote against the amendment put forward by Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Andrew Mitchell and Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge.

The amendment would require the UK government to take steps to provide that British Overseas Territories establish publicly accessible registers of the beneficial ownership of companies. It does not include Britain’s crown dependencies, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

In a statement prior to the debate, the 15-member CARICOM grouping, said the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill will have an effect on the financial services of the overseas countries and territories including Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands.

The sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) had also put forward a similar argument and earlier yesterday, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) government appealed to UK legislators to re-think their positions regarding the new legislation that could seriously affect the future socio-economic development of the British Overseas Territory.

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