Bermuda Ranked 34th In Financial Secrecy Index

November 2, 2015

Bermuda is ranked 34th in the 2015 Financial Secrecy Index, which was released today [Nov 2] by the UK-based Tax Justice Network.

The ranking has Switzerland in first, Hong Kong in second, the USA in third, Singapore in fourth, and Cayman Islands in fifth.

The 34th ranking is a change from the Financial Secrecy Index issued by the organisation two years ago [PDF], with Bermuda then ranked 14th.

“This unique index combines a secrecy score with a weighting to create a ranking of the secrecy jurisdictions and countries that most actively promote secrecy in global finance,” the organisation said in their release today.

“Most countries’ secrecy scores have improved. Real action is being taken to curb financial secrecy, as the OECD rolls out a system of automatic information exchange [AIE] where countries share relevant information to tackle tax evasion.

“The EU is starting to crack open shell companies by creating central registers of beneficial owners and making that information available to anyone with a legitimate interest. The EU is also requiring multinationals to provide country-by-country financial data.

“Our analysis also reveals that the United States is the jurisdiction of greatest concern, having made few concessions and posing serious threats to emerging transparency initiatives.

“Rising from sixth to third place in our index, the US is one of the few whose secrecy score worsened after 2013. Switzerland stays at the top of the index and for good reason: despite what you may have heard, Swiss banking secrecy is far from dead, though it has curbed its secrecy somewhat.

“The United Kingdom also remains a huge concern. While its own secrecy is moderate, its global network of secrecy jurisdictions – the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories – still operate in deep secrecy and have, for instance, not co-operated in creating public registers of beneficial ownership. The UK has failed to address this effectively, though it has the power to do so.

“Though the United Kingdom isn’t in our top ten, it supports a network of secrecy jurisdictions around the world, from Cayman to Bermuda to Jersey to the British Virgin Islands, whose trusts and shell companies hold many trillions of dollars’ worth of assets. Had we treated the UK and its dependent territories as a single unit it would easily top the 2015 index, above Switzerland.

“The UK has prodded its offshore satellites forwards in the area of AIE, but has failed to force them to create public registries of beneficial ownership, despite having the power to do so. In the all-important area of trusts, it has played a central role in blocking progress, in stark contrast to its more amenable stance on shell companies.”

As far as Bermuda adopting a public register of beneficial ownership, Finance Minister Bob Richards has previously stated that Bermuda should not move to the new model of regulation until its adoption by Canada, the UK and USA as “to do so without simultaneous similar action by competing jurisdictions would put Bermuda at a significant competitive disadvantage and severely damage our economy.” The Minister’s position on the matter is supported by the Opposition PLP.”

The full 2015 Financial Secrecy Index ranking is below [PDF here]

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Comments (4)

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  1. Chaos Theory says:

    It really pisses me off when these people get certain things so wrong:

    QUOTE: “Recorded Company Ownership: Does the relevant authority obtain and keep updated details of the beneficial ownership of companies?
    Bermuda does not maintain company ownership details in official records”

    Bermuda is one of the few countries in the world that maintains records of beneficial ownership of companies. It is not open to the public, but we do have it, which is more than almost every other country on the list.

    If this fact was taken into account (and if the TJN actually did some proper research) I expect Bermuda’s ranking would be even better.

    • yamon says:

      It’s about public access not just maintaining a record.6

  2. jt says:

    “Though the United Kingdom isn’t in our top ten, it supports a network of secrecy jurisdictions around the world, from Cayman to Bermuda to Jersey to the British Virgin Islands, whose trusts and shell companies hold many trillions of dollars’ worth of assets. Had we treated the UK and its dependent territories as a single unit it.”
    Though Bermuda isn’t in their top 30 they still mention us in a statement like the above. The agenda seems clear.

  3. Truth (Original) says:

    Cool. Let’s start from number one and push for tax reform, working our way down the list.

    Leave Bermuda alone until you get to number 34.