Premier: “Governor Made Aware Of Discontent”

June 21, 2013

Premier Craig Cannonier said that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments that the Overseas Territories signed up to a convention “concerned” him, and the Governor has been made aware of “our discontent.”

The Premier was answering questions in the House of Assembly today [June 21] about conflicting reports following his recent trip to London.

Speaking in the UK House of Commons on Wednesday [June 19], Prime Minister Cameron said the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies signed up to the multilateral convention.

This contrasts to what Premier Craig Cannonier said the prior day, as he told the media that Bermuda “has not signed any agreement at all” and neither had the other Overseas Territories.

Premier Cannonier was questioned about the disparity by PLP MP Walton Brown, who asked was the Prime Minister being misleading, or was the Premier misleading Bermuda.

Audio of the exchange in the House of Assembly:

The Premier said he was not being misleading, and his statements have been, and will remain, consistent.

“I cannot speak on behalf of Prime Minister Cameron, but it does concern me to see those comments as well,” said Premier Cannonier.

In addition, he said the Overseas Territories were aware in advance that the Prime Minister would be making a statement of that nature, which he said the Overseas Territories “voiced their concerns” about prior to the statement being put out.

Saying he “voiced his concerns” with the Governor on Wednesday, the Premier said he has “made sure the Governor is aware of our discontent with this…”

The Premier also noted that his request for a private meeting with the Prime Minister was not honoured, which he said was “disturbing” and “disappointing.”

Prime Minister Cameron’s full speech can be read here, and the relevant portion is below:

The Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have signed up to the multilateral convention on information exchange, agreed automatic exchange of information with the UK and action plans for beneficial ownership.

Taken together all the actions agreed with the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies will provide over £1 billion to the exchequer. Helping to keep taxes down for hardworking families in the UK.

The questions followed after the Premier delivered a speech on his UK trip in the House today. He said, “There is confusion in the international news media about the conclusions of my talks in London….”

“I wish to make it abundantly clear that the Government of Bermuda did not take a quantum leap in any commitment or undertaking given in London. The Minister of Finance joined me in the London meetings to tell the ‘real Bermuda story.”

The Premier’s full speech in the House follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to report to Honourable Members on my meetings in London on the eve of the G8 Summit which took place on June 17, 2013 in Lough Erne in Ireland.

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to talk directly with the United Kingdom Prime Minister, the Rt. Honourable David Cameron, the Overseas Territories Minister, Mr. Mark Simmonds and with Overseas Territory and Crown Dependency Premiers and Chief Ministers.

Mr. Speaker, there is confusion in the international news media about the conclusions of my talks in London on the issues of transparency regarding beneficial ownership of companies and exchange of information under the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters which I shall refer to as the Convention. My talks with Prime Minister Cameron focused essentially on these two issues.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to make it abundantly clear that the Government of Bermuda did not take a quantum leap in any commitment or undertaking given in London. The Minister of Finance joined me in the London meetings to tell the ‘real Bermuda story’.

We talked about Bermuda’s highly regarded and well regulated international insurance sector that provides G8 countries with catastrophe risk insurance and pays claims on a timely basis.

We explained how Bermuda’s global insurance sector supports jobs in the United Kingdom and in the European Union. We differentiated Bermuda as an international financial centre with a comparative advantage in the delivery of insurance and reinsurance products and services to the global community.

We stated that it was fundamentally incorrect and misleading to categorise Bermuda as a tax haven. We were clear that Bermuda would protect its economic interests.

We asserted that Bermuda is already committed fully to the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. We pointed to our compelling history of action in this regard.

Mr. Speaker, Bermuda’s international tax strategy has focused on compliance with international regulatory cooperation and international tax cooperation which has seen Bermuda sign 39 TIEAs encompassing 90% of the G20, 52% of the EU and 76% of the OECD Member States.

Like the Convention, Bermuda’s TIEAs currently help developing countries track down tax cheats and we have a proven track record in this regard. We were one of the first jurisdictions to have a TIEA with the United States that was signed in 1988. Bermuda has also provided beneficial ownership to US authorities for almost two decades under the provision of the TIEA, well before the OECD created their Model TIEA with input from Bermuda.

Further, most recently Bermuda has stated publically that it supports the Convention in principle, just like many other countries. Bermuda has also been clear that it would take measured steps in its approach to the Convention so that there was no risk to our business model. Even the UK when it considered the Convention issued its own reservations. Bermuda has also publically given its support to the FATCA pilot multilateral exchange initiative of the G5/EU.

Mr. Speaker, on the matter of having access to information on the beneficial ownership of companies, the simple truth is that Bermuda is a leader.

Since the 1940′s, Bermuda has required ultimate beneficial ownership information at the time of formation for every entity from abroad that sets up in Bermuda. Bermuda is virtually unique in this practice. The truth is Bermuda’s ‘house’ is more in order than many G8 countries because Bermuda is already out in front in this area of government registries on beneficial ownership of companies.

Mr. Speaker, the commitments that I communicated to the Prime Minister many days ago are that Bermuda has already given an undertaking to automatic exchange of information under three FATCA initiatives based on the IGA model 2 with the US, UK and the G5 EU pilot initiative multilateral FATCA. The commitment was measured in its scope to align with Bermuda’s interests as an engaged partner in a global fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

We will assess the multilateral mechanism and then determine next steps. We understand that the Convention does not provide an obligation to automatic exchange. Rather the wisdom of its drafters provides for automatic exchange based on a mutual need and mutual agreement between both parties.

Finally, Bermuda has publically stated its support to the review being undertaken to consider a possible new standard of government registries for beneficial ownership. However, it bears repeating that Bermuda is well advanced in this practice and it is really for many of the G8 jurisdictions to catch up.

Mr. Speaker, in going forward, my Government will work to improve access to information on beneficial ownership of companies. In doing so however, we will not adopt measures that diminish our competitive capacity thereby leading to a loss of jobs in our economy – that would be foolhardy.

My Government also will take measured and appropriate steps to ensure that Bermuda remains at the forefront of the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

Ours is a cooperative and transparent domicile for legitimate international business and my Government seeks to retain this pedigree for our country.

Jobs now and future growth and wealth creation for Bermudians depend upon it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-

Speaking outside the House today, Premier Cannonier stressed that Bermuda is a leader when it comes transparency, and that we are a re/insurance domicile and low tax jurisdiction, not a tax haven. “When it comes to transparency we are further ahead than many of the G8 nations,” said the Premier.

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Articles that link to this one:

  1. Walton Brown In Guardian: “We’re No Tax Haven” | Bernews.com | June 27, 2013
  1. Jus' Askin' says:

    What is the governor doing if the prime minister is not aware of what Bermuda does?

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    • Mrs. Voter says:

      Why isn't PCC and media reporting that PCC Government has loss 2 votes in the house, with the Speaker voting with the Opposition yesterday to break a tie? Did PCC report this to the Governor as well? Perhaps Cameron see that there's no command of the Bermuda HOA?

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      • Media says:

        What was the vote on?

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        • Hamza says:

          Check HOA maybe 3

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          • Black Soil says:

            Cameron is saying whatever needs to be said to win support. The truth is not relevant. Reminds me of a local party in Bermuda. Nuf said.

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    • Mrs. Voter says:

      Why is my post relating to OBA government losing votes on 2 bills to the opposition with the speaker of the house breaking a tie yesterday and voting with the opposition?

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      • SMH says:

        We need to 'ear' more about this 4 sure.

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  2. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    Cameron was simply throwing up a smoke screen to deflect attention from the UK and the terrible situation his government has made things.

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    • Johnny says:

      Like anyone in the UK gives Bermuda even a second thought.

      I'm sure David Cameron had a terrible night sleep after Craig had ripped him a new one!!

      Come on people, he's got 65 million people, Syria, N Korea and an underachieving football team to worry about.

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  3. A>B>C says:

    all corruption come 2 an end

    PLAIN and SIMPLE

    WORLDWIDE de little people tired of hearin bickery

    so all high power u have been warn speak de truth or forever hold ur peace

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  4. Vote for Me says:

    There can be many spins put on the Premier's comments. On the face of it, I think Bermuda should accept what he has said as true.

    More disturbing is the apparent intentional misinformation being stated by Prime Minister Cameron.

    Most interesting is the apparent wake up call for the Premier and MP Richards!! The UK is definitely more concerned about its own interests and not Bermuda's or the overseas territories.

    The Premier is 'disturbed' that Cameron did not meet him privately and Richards is amazed at the level of ignorance that Cameron shows about Bermuda notwithstanding the permanent presence of 2 senior representatives - the Governor and Deputy. Given that we pay in excess of $2m for both of them, it seems that our money is not being spent wisely or significantly more focused 'briefings' need to take place.

    Bermuda will keep a collective watching brief to see how the Government interacts with the UK and the other dependent territories in this matter. At a minimum, the apparent intentional misinformation from Cameron should give serious cause for concern for any future interaction.

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    • Cleancut says:

      The Governor is not paid to be a consultant in our affairs, Governors have specific job descriptions.

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    • fred says:

      Exactly !... UK is definitely more concerned about its own interests and not Bermuda’s... "the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies will provide over £1 billion to the exchequer. Helping to keep taxes down for hardworking families in the UK."

      What else needs to be said?!!!

      If we sign into these agreements, it is only in the best interests of the larger countries (UK, US) to enable the collection of taxes and take from us. Our interests are not at heart. And notice if we don't sign on they will begin to strong-arm us by saying such things as "they won't recognize our corporations, etc.." They will threaten us with economic blockades, eventually, but we shouldn't give in. If we do, then we only open the door to taxation on our own incomes as well, so watch carefully what unfolds.

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  5. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    Mind-blowing how propaganda PR extends far beyond general elections into international Summits and Houses of Parliaments.

    BBC News, Sky and/or CNN need to place this with an investigating team of reports.

    You cannot launch this type of propaganda that destroys Bermuda's image/brand by branding us a 'tax haven' then make this statement above in the British House of Parliament to the UK public and G8 members that we have signed the multilateral convention when we have not - yet. We want to be assured that we are not being harmed by this multilateral convention. Our national interest is our priority and it clearly divergences from the interests of the UK.

    David Cameron could have handled this issue with a lot more tack, diplomacy and negotiating skill, instead he has used blind-siding trickery, avoidance to meet one on one, wretched up propaganda and continue to place deliberately false statements in the public domain. When the dusk settles the financial carnage to our image/brand will be great and Bermuda will know precisely who caused it.

    London, England

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    • Hamza says:

      Mr. C could send you home Val, be careful. Keep biting the hand that feed you lol

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

    Mr. Cameron, I have no respect for you and you sir are an a**!

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  7. SMH says:

    Can't understand the new pro "picker" news since last election.

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  8. Alvin Williams says:

    Well I am afraid that the delusions have all been on our side with respect to our relations with the Uk. First we were never equal when we were called over to England to meet with Prime Minister Cameron. Bermuda
    for a long time believe that we had a special relationship with Britain; that they would never act against our interests. 'Governor made aware of our discontent' states the premier. Well that is neither here or there. Have we heard a peep out of the British governor here with respect to Bermudian interests? We won't hear anything because the governor is a British diplomat appointed by the British government and not the queen as we in Bermuda like to believe; he takes his clue from England. We pay a high price for our romantic colonial link and to add insult to injury the governor sits on land that we pay for and that should be developed in the economic interests of the Bermudian people.
    The premier was snub with respect to his so-called meeting with prime minister Cameron and now Bermuda's colonial relationship has come full circle. Remember when former PLP premier Browne tried to get the governor to alternate the weekly Bermuda government/governor meetings with the latter comming to the cabinet office on a rotating basics for those meetings which in themselves is archaic in this world of relations
    between nation states; the request was turn down because the whole tenor of this relationship is set to remind the colonize who are the real rulers. Premier Cannonier was put in his place
    and reminded that his position is lower than that of prime minister Cameron. So to take your protests to the governor will only result in a curt 'noted' but Bermuda's colonial status remains the same untill we understand that to step as an equal we need to do that from the position of being an independent nation in our own right.

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  9. js says:

    poor premier when he leaves Bermuda he goes to the real world which the cut and thrust of Bermuda's political and social arenas have not prepared him for

    only in Bermuda would we seriously think and debate that our premier whoever he is could possibly stand on an equal footing with the prime minister of the UK

    craig cannonier represents an island 24 square miles in the middle of the Atlantic ocean with a resident population of 60k people

    David Cameron probably has never given Bermuda a second thought why should he waste his time with our premier

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  10. swing voter says:

    allova sudden I'm feeling quite warm and fuzzy at the thought of independence.....Cameron wants to castrate us although we are playing above board, his only interest is grabbing money that the UK has no right to demand....I wonder if Cameron is willing to subsidize the Territories equal to the amount of revenue lost should he follow through on is threats...now where's my red white and blue color toilet paper.

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    • Clive Spate says:

      Cameron is under pressure from US and EU to get his house in order and Bermuda is the ramshackle shed at the bottom of the garden.

      How does Bermuda have a right to this money when none of it is generated here.

      Entitlement??

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      • Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

        @Hamza...

        Do you honestly think that Messrs Cameron and Fergusson care what I think? I don't think so.

        Why would an insignificant woman be a threat to them? Why would they want to send me back to Bermuda? And, someone said that I was paranoid, boy, the intrigue being fabricated between Bermuda and the UK. Next someone will be talking about my M6 file.

        Hamza, nothing surprises me.

        London, England

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        • Clive Spate says:

          You have a file about a motorway?

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  11. Victor says:

    It strikes me that Cameron cannot be trusted - typical over-privelidged arrogant Public school toff... I trust Cannonier and Richards have the steady nerves to resolutely stick to OUR legitimate agenda and not be bullied by this increasingly weak UK anachronism of a PM.

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  12. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    Hi Clive Spate...

    I really didn't think that anyone would pick up on it when I reviewed my mistake. It's MI6.

    But to digress, I think that the M6 (motorway) is somewhere near Birmingham, so much for my knowledge outside London. And, no I do not know where MI6 is, although it could be in the Defence building near Horseman's Guard in Westminster.

    London, England

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  13. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    @Clive Spade...

    Or you could have said, "Your file was left on the motorway?" That's been known to happen!

    I'm told that M6 is the motorway near Birmingham

    However, it should read MI6

    MI6 is in the Defence Building near Horseman's Guard in the City of Westminster. My apologises.

    London, England

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