STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE LORNA SMITH, OBE
DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES, LABOUR AND TRADE
THIRD SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE FIFTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
THURSDAY, 7th SEPTEMBER 2023
Illicit Finance Dialogue: Senior Officials’ Meeting
I am grateful for the opportunity to share information regarding an upcoming event that holds great significance in our collective efforts to address the challenge of global illicit financial flows. Senior Officials from the Overseas Territories (OTs) and the United Kingdom (UK) and will be meeting here in the Virgin Islands from the 12th to the 14th of September 2023 for a meeting on Illicit Finance. This meeting will be co-chaired by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Members may recall that the establishment of a Ministerial Level Dialogue aimed at addressing illicit finance was agreed upon during the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) between UK and OT Ministers earlier this year in May. This Senior Officials’ Meeting marks an important step leading up to the Joint Ministerial-Level Dialogue between OT governments and the UK, which is scheduled for November. The purpose of this meeting is to provide a platform for open dialogue and collaboration, focusing on themes of transparency, financial integrity, and collective efforts to combat illicit finance through enhanced cooperation.
Madam Speaker, I would like to provide some further context on the matter. The partnership between the UK and the Overseas Territories offers a platform to address shared challenges, particularly in governance and sustainable development. In today's world, where money flows across borders with ease, it is important for partners to come together to address these challenges collectively. Some of the Overseas Territories and the UK are significant global financial centres, which means that we share common risks and interests in protecting our financial sectors from threats posed by illegal movements of money across borders. Criminal networks are becoming more sophisticated in exploiting stable financial systems for illicit financial flows. It has therefore become crucial for countries to collaborate, share expertise, and find more effective ways of working together.
Madam Speaker, I also want to acknowledge the dedication shown by the Overseas Territory Governments in upholding international standards in transparency and preventing illicit finance, as set forth by organisations like the OECD and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Exchange of Notes arrangements between the United Kingdom and the Overseas Territories are valued, and this dialogue aims to build upon these achievements to further strengthen the integrity of our financial systems.
Turning to the structure of the Senior Officials’ Meeting, it will include sessions focusing on strengthening technical capacities to address areas such as sanctions implementation and enforcement, countering the financing of terrorism, and anti-money laundering.
It is important to note that the dialogue participants encompass a range of economies, each with their own unique characteristics. Therefore, commitments and objectives will need to be tailored to each member, ensuring that agreements are suitable for the specific circumstances of each jurisdiction.
The leadership of this Dialogue carries significant importance. Each year, the UK Government, represented by the FCDO and the Home Office, will jointly chair the Illicit Finance Dialogue alongside the government of a designated Overseas Territory. For the current year 2023/24, the role of the OT Chair is assumed by the Virgin Islands.
Madam Speaker, the Government of the Virgin Islands looks forward to extending a warm welcome to delegates from the governments of Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United Kingdom, all of whom will be present in the Territory. Regrettably, the Governments of the Falkland Islands and St. Helena will not be able to join in person, but they will have the opportunity to participate virtually.
In closing, I want to emphasise that the Joint Ministerial-Level Dialogue presents a valuable opportunity for the United Kingdom and the Overseas Territories to work together to strengthen our financial systems, and contribute to a more secure global financial landscape. The deliberations during this Senior Officials’ Meeting have the potential to set the stage for meaningful advancement in these domains.
Lastly, Madam Speaker, allow me the privilege of expressing gratitude to everyone who has worked together to coordinate the logistics of this meeting. I extend my well wishes for productive and successful deliberations.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.