Hamilton, Bermuda — The government of Bermuda’s deputy premier and minister of finance, E.T. (Bob) Richards, announced on Friday that Bermuda will reserve any commitment to uphold a British model of beneficial ownership prior to international policy development in this area. In addition, Bermuda will wait until the UK, US and Canada adopt public beneficial ownership registers.
Following a recent visit to London, Richards said: “Despite having no hand in creating the OECD (Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation) tax system, Bermuda has for the last 75 years led the way in terms of transparency, having established a legislative framework requiring that persons wishing to incorporate in Bermuda provide central authorities with information on the proposed beneficial owners of the business. Bermuda signed its first tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) with the United States in 1986 and a TIEA with the United Kingdom in 2007.”
“If we agree to a public register while our competitors around the world do not, we will put ourselves at a distinct disadvantage, severely damaging our economy,” he added.
Today, Bermuda has information exchange agreements with 80 countries, including 41 TIEA agreements in place with 90 percent of G20, 76 percent of OECD and 52 percent of EU member states. In September 2013, Bermuda joined the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters to facilitate cooperation between jurisdictions in the assessment and collections of taxes, in particular to combat tax avoidance and evasion.
“Bermuda has never been a jurisdiction with bank secrecy laws. Whilst we respect the privacy accorded to people bestowed by British Common Law, we are not in the business of parking and hiding tax evaders’ money from legitimate authorities. If you are a tax evader, a terrorist financier or a fraudster, don’t use Bermuda. We don’t want your business and you are not protected on our shores,” Richards noted.
Bermuda’s international business sector is said to provide a distinct value proposition to the global economy. Housing 16 of the top 40 reinsurances companies in the world and supporting up to 100,000 jobs in the UK and 350,000 in the US, Bermuda stands out because of its financial services market.