“Overseas Territories Used As Scapegoats”

June 19, 2013

“Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are, to some extent, being used as scapegoats and distractions,” Finance Minister Bob Richards said yesterday [June 18].

The Minister was speaking at a press conference along with Premier Craig Cannonier, after they attended a meeting in London along with representatives from the other British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

British Prime Minister David Cameron had asked them to London to discuss tax issues before the G8 summit. Prior to that, Mr Cameron had written a letter to the Overseas Territories asking them to “get their house in order” when it came to international tax matters.

The jurisdictions that received the letter were Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Anguilla, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

The matter has been making international headlines recently, with Bermuda often labeled a “tax haven”, and various things said about the island – with not all being fully representative of the actual situation.

Premier Cannonier has been referred to as the “Prime Minister” on a few occasions, one report said “Bermuda is an Overseas Territory where Britain appoints the Prime Minister,” while another column said Bermuda “even lacks the water to support its 69,500 citizens.”

Minister Richards said, “I have been there twice in ten days. One of the things it made me aware of, that in London there is a kind of groundswell against offshore financial centers which is being driven by a number of factors.”

“The US is coming out of a recession, the UK and Europe are not. Unemployment remains very high in the UK, budget deficits are ballooning.

“So it is a very difficult and negative environment over there, and I believe that Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are, to some extent, being used as scapegoats and distractions from domestic policies and domestic policy failures.”

“On top of that you have a core of non governmental organisations, NGOs, people who are feeding the hungry and all that sort of thing in various parts of the world, who also have latched on to this notion that either multi-national corporations, or so called tax havens are responsible for these countries not having any money. These poor countries not having any money.”

“So I was very surprised at the virulence of that sentiment that exists over there right now,” said Minister Richards. “It is this environment that the Premier is referring to when he says we need to get our message out there.

“Our message is, to a significant extent, being overwhelmed by that noise. And therefore we have to up our game, we have to increase our volume,” said Minister Richards.

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Comments (8)

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  1. waitasecond says:

    We are blessed to have someone of Bob Richards’ talents at this difficult time in our history. Navigating through this minefield requires great diplomatic and political skills. The OBA is a party with mixed talents and several politicians with much to learn (and one or two hopeless cases) but at least we have the best man in the most important position. And kudos for the Premier for having the humility and leadership skills to allow Bob to be our spokesperson on these matters. I hope the Premier has the courage to shuffle out the poor performers who are letting their colleagues and the voters down.

  2. Truth is killin' me... says:

    The recession is to blame. Ain’t that the “Scapegoat”!?

  3. Small island mentality says:

    Bermuda,

    Time to grow a pair and go independent and fight any sanctions if you are ostracized, otherwise, stop whining and give up your financial services sector and the thousands of jobs that go with it.

    Don’t you guys dont get it, Economist article on feb 2013, offshore is over. You guys better embrace gambling and a few other industries FAST

    • Concerned Local Bermudian says:

      Off Shore and gambling???

      I guess you’re not aware of what the US did to Antigua a few years back! It’s only global trading if it’s on US or UK terms. This has to stop! At least the UN sided with Antigua – a step in international fairness (right direction).

      BTW, we are for the most part a legitimate financial center (last time I checked), so I’m NOT understanding your “Off Shore” comments relating to Bermuda. Financial centers are not synonymous to US or UK. Isn’t this a global world?

      You either believe globalization works or you believe both US and UK can treat people the way they want! Which is it?

      BTW, we should be diversifying to non-G8 countries business as much as we can…

      • Small island mentality says:

        ………..remember u guys don’t deal with non G8 countries or developing countries as they ae beneath you, they all need visas to visit Bermuda remember, plus any foreigner who ain’t from uk us or Canada gets roughed up on arrival, or during their visit, Bermuda is classy and first world u don’t need emerging market wealth remember

        Island needs a serious reality shake up

  4. Sir George Somers says:

    John Prescott is a bloody idiot!

    Someone explain to me how it’s Bermudas fault that Thames Water pays no corporation tax in the UK??

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22844952

    The UK need to sort out their own affairs, and close loopholes, before pointing the finger at us!

  5. Vote for Me says:

    @ Truth is killing me.
    Your comments seem to be quite condescending.

    Given the potential impact of any significant changes in legislation that affects offshore jurisdictions, it would be appropriate to discuss the proposed agreement on a bi partisan basis.

    If we are honest, the best position will be determined if some of the obvious ‘bright sparks’ from PLP and OBA consider the changes jointly, on behalf of all of us.

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