Opposition In ‘Full Support Of Minister’s Position’

November 29, 2014

The Opposition is in “full support” of the position Finance Minister Bob Richards has taken in regards to the UK’s request pertaining to a beneficial ownership public registry, Opposition Leader Marc Bean said in the House of Assembly yesterday [Nov 29].

In 2013, the G7 — which consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA — agreed that beneficial ownership information on companies should be accessible onshore to law enforcement, tax administrations and other relevant authorities and that information could be made available through central registries of company beneficial ownership.

Audio of the exchange in the House of Assembly

Speaking in the House yesterday, Minister Richards said that while G7 declared that the Principles would be consistent with the Financial Action Task Force [FATF] standards, the UK adopted a different approach which he said exceeds FATF standards and the G7’s commitment, with the UK committing to implement a publicly accessible central registry of beneficial ownership information.

Noting that Bermuda established a legislative framework over 70 years ago requiring persons wishing to incorporate in Bermuda to provide central authorities with information on the proposed ultimate beneficial owner of a business, Minister Richards said: “Ironically, there is currently no requirement in the United Kingdom for this information to be filed with a UK central authority.”

The Minister said Bermuda was asked to to consider whether we, together with other Overseas Territories, would be willing to consider the UK model as opposed to the G7 model.

The Government consulted with industry, and the Minister said the consultation concluded there is “overwhelming support for Bermuda’s present disclosure regime,” and that Bermuda should not move to the new model of regulation until its adoption by Canada, the UK and USA.

“Moreover, to do so without simultaneous similar action by competing jurisdictions would put Bermuda at a significant competitive disadvantage and severely damage our economy,” said Minister Richards, adding that the UK has been advised of Bermuda’s position.

The Minister also spoke about this in a recent speech to the Bermuda Society in London, saying: “If we agree to a public register while our competitors around the world do not, we will put ourselves at a distinct competitive disadvantage, a situation that would severely damage our economy…

“Our position is that when the great English speaking western nations – the UK, the US and Canada — adopt public beneficial ownership registers, we will follow suit. It seems only fair that the big countries should lead by example, instead of pushing the dots out front, ahead of the pack,” added the Minister.

Speaking at a seminar last month, Governor George Fergusson said “Bermuda has an excellent record” and “is a leader in the number of countries it has tax information exchange arrangements with.

“It is a leader, not least, in having a longstanding registry of beneficial ownership – available to law enforcement partners – covering companies and trusts,” added the Governor.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Sky Pilot says:

    the plp are only in full support because they are s*** scared that their wheeling and dealing will be discovered.

  2. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    It a shame you will never see this headline in newspapers around the world, “Bermuda, leading the world in business transparency for more then half a century”
    It just doesn’t fit in with image that politicians around the world needs to us as a scapegoat. Well done Minister Richards, keep highlighting how we are ahead of the G7 and the rest of the game when it comes to global business accountability.

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

    Oh…finally we’re in support of something that the OBA is doing. There is a God!

    • Hallelujah! There is power in prayer :-)

      • Natalie says:

        But the only reason Bean agrees is because if he doesn’t it appears he isn’t backing Bermudians.

        And that’s the way it is with Bean, it’s all politics, never what’s right.

        Does anyone really trust Marc Bean? Especially women.

        • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

          Trust him? No
          Like him? No.
          But when he does something I agree with, regardless of what his motives might be, yes, I will applaud those actions.

      • Black Soil says:

        Hardly any good faith here. The opposition only support it because THEY TOO don’t want members of the public to see who the UBO’s behind various trusts and other entities.

    • Kunta says:

      Would’ve been nice if you said this when P.L.P was in power, oh I forgot Historically that’s not an option.

      • Christopher James says:

        Not an option. There was nothing too applaud. PLP failed at just about everything and ruined our island. They a bunch of incompetents. Couldn’t run a bath let alone a country.

  4. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    This is a pleasure to read.
    Bravo to both sides for standing together for Bermuda and our business community.

  5. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    I am very surprised that the Governor fails to see the UK’s point and position on this issue.

    The central premise is, by tax evaders and/or avoiders placing their funds in tax schemes that have been invented by lawyers, accountants money managers and auditors, wealthy individuals and/or companies have failed to pay their fair share of taxes from monies EARNED in the UK.

    These lawyers, accountants, money managers, auditors, etc use these tax schemes to first, significantly reduce the taxes that their clients pay in the UK, by sending the total earnings (profits) to another jurisdiction to be audited so that they pay taxes on the smallest portion of their profits while sending the larger balance of untaxed earnings (profits) to places like Bermuda to be sheltered thus the title – tax haven.

    These tax schemes have become so sophisticated that the UK has now enacted a strict liability law, that will prosecute (criminal)any lawyer, accountant, money manager, auditor, etc who is caught inventing, promoting and shielding their clients untaxed and/or under-taxed earnings (profits)in these schemes.

    So, there is knowledge that long standing individuals and/or companies have used these tax schemes to evade and/or avoid paying their fair share of taxes. And the UK wants a registry to be established in order to claw those millions and perhaps billions in sterling back in taxes from any tax haven shelter, anywhere in the world.

    I have read Bermuda’s concerns on why it does not want to be the first to establish its registry, to protect it clients interests or our profits from their untaxed and/or under taxed funds in Bermuda. It will damage business interests? But the UK has severely cut overseas aid to the developing world due to the severe shortfall in taxes collected. A direct correlation between the two.

    So, Bermuda is concerned with profits (funds) from wealthy clients while the UK to cuts aid (funds) meant to help the developing world? In other words, funds pouring into Bermuda are funds siphoned off which should be in operations as aid for education, healthcare, food and clean drinking water in the developing world?

    And 85% of the electorate in the UK oppose those who do not pay their fair share of taxes on UK earned profits by placing their funds in tax haven schemes.

    All Bermudians have come together on grounds of profits over a greater sense of moral obligation?

    When was the last time that a Bermudian has had to walk forty miles or even one mile to get clean drinking water?

    And that is the debate in London, Mr Richards.