Bob Richards On UK & Bermuda Relationship

October 16, 2018 | 36 Comments

The British Parliament “passed legislation that clearly violates” the Bermuda Constitution, the FCO “continuously succumbs to the stereotyping of the Territories,” and Bermuda has been “early adopters of all the evolving global standards of tax and beneficial ownership information sharing.”

These were some of the statements made by Bob Richards — the former Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier — in his submission to the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

The British Committee is conducting an inquiry into, “How the Foreign Office manages its responsibility to ensure the security and stability of the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories.

The Committee allowed people to make written submissions, and Mr Richards was one of the people who took the opportunity to do so, noting that the submission is his personal views and not that of the Bermuda Government or a political party.


-

Mr Richards covered a number of aspects including the UK legislation relating to OTs, false perceptions about us, the passport issue and more, concluding by explaining that his submission is a “call for a more thoughtful, respectful and constructive relationship between HM Government and the Bermuda Government.”

Mr Richards said that Overseas Territories [OT] “became the chief whipping boys ” as the source of ills in Britain, noting that while he was Finance Minister he gave interviews to UK media where he was “peppered” with “tax haven type questions.”

“In Britain it is popularly viewed that we somehow deprive the UK economy or government coffers of something that is rightfully theirs. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Mr Richards said.

“We have been early adopters of all the evolving global standards of tax and beneficial ownership information sharing – either on the leading edge or ahead of that curve.”

Mr Richards notes that he personally signed the “protocol between the Bermuda Government and HM Government establishing the transmittal of beneficial ownership information to the UK Government on a 24-hour turnaround basis and a 1-hour basis in emergencies.”

He also notes that in 2013 a “letter from the British Prime Minister was received by our Premier to ‘Get our house in order’ in the context of transparency, and tax cooperation.”

Mr Richards points out, “At that time Britain did not have a register of beneficial ownership of any kind, while Bermuda had had one for 70 years. At that time, we also had a Tax Information Exchange Agreement network with over 60 countries, including the UK.”

Addressing the bill passed by the UK Parliament seeking to enforce public registers in OTs, the former Finance Minister said, “The British Parliament has recently passed legislation that clearly violates the Bermuda Constitution, a constitution that was negotiated and mutually agreed upon by both parties.”

He notes the three largest OT’s [by GDP] are Bermuda, Cayman and BVI, who “all rely heavily on providing financial services globally, not just to the UK.”

“We do not have a monopoly on such services,” he states, “We have global competitors, including the world’s largest and most powerful nation: the USA.”

Public Beneficial Ownership Registers are not a global standard. I stated many times as Minister that, if public Beneficial Ownership Registers become a global standard, we will comply.

“If the three territories are compelled to make their Registers public with public registers not being a global standard, it is guaranteed that there will be major negative impacts on all three economies.”

He further points out that business will be lost to other offshore financial centres, “many of whom have very low compliance, anti-money laundering and transparency standards,” hence there would be a “resultant net deterioration in global transparency standards.”

“Hundreds, perhaps thousands of jobs will be lost in the OT’s. Local governments will have lost major sources of revenue,” he said. “Yet the British Parliament has said nothing about compensation for the damage to local government finances, livelihoods, businesses and property values their action will cause.

“The British Parliament clearly does not care about the consequences of its action. Without the offer of compensation, this latest amendment to force OT’s to adopt public registers is immoral and capricious legislation.

“Let me state, before anyone gets the wrong impression, I am not advocating receiving compensation from the UK. Bermuda is proud that we do not receive any money from Britain, the EU or any other foreign government,” he continued.

“We pay our own way. The Bermuda taxpayer even pays the salary and expenses of our British Governor, not HM Government, unlike other OT’s. So, we’re not looking for any hand-outs.

“From a Bermuda perspective, none of these matters fall under HM Government’s authority or responsibilities. They are all matters for the democratically elected Bermuda government. The Bermuda Constitution clearly shows this.

“The British Parliament cannot, at its whim, and against the will of a democratically elected local parliament, fracture a convention that has been in place for 50 years. ”

“Then there is the echo from the 18th Century of ‘no taxation without representation.’ Before any attempt to override us, HM Government and British MP’s should remember that Bermuda has no representation in the British Parliament. This is 2018, not 1718.

After the bill passed in UK Parliament earlier this year, the current Minister of Finance, Premier David Burt, called the British Parliament legislating for Bermuda “an egregious breach of well-established constitutional conventions,” which ”can only be viewed as a direct assault on the conduct of legal business in the Overseas Territories.”

Speaking in May of this year, Premier Burt told the House of Assembly it is ”one of those issues that bridges the partisan divide. I can advise Honourable Members that even the former Honourable Member and former Minister of Finance, the Hon. E.T. “Bob” Richards reached out for me to express his well stated views on what he considers an undue act of aggression by the British.”

In his submission to the UK Committee, Mr Richards concluded by saying, “As increasingly difficult as the relationship between Bermuda and HM Government has become, I think a useful and mutually beneficial relationship can be achieved going forward.

“The model for our relationship needs to be updated, not necessarily legislatively, but certainly via updated conventions and practices. British MP’s should refrain from embroiling Bermuda in their internal party-partisan wrangling.

“This submission is a call for a more thoughtful, respectful and constructive relationship between HM Government and the Bermuda Government.”

In addition to written submissions, the Foreign Affairs Committee will be hearing ‘oral evidence’, with former Governor of Bermuda George Fergusson set to appear before the Committee today in London.

Bob Richards submission to the UK  Foreign Affairs Committee:

To members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I respectfully present my submission on the subject of British Overseas Territories. The comments in this submission are my personal views and not those of the Government of Bermuda nor any Bermudian political party. As the former Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier of Bermuda, I believe my perspective on the relationship between Bermuda, as a British Overseas Territory [OT], and Her Majesty’s Government is based on my experiences and observations that point to the heart of important issues between Bermuda and the UK.

tmpHm7kQJ

Background

This relationship and related issues can only be understood within the context of some important background information. According to the Bermuda Constitution, HM Government is responsible for foreign affairs and internal security for Bermuda. Bermuda is a democracy, having a democratically elected parliament and government which is responsible for everything, excluding those two areas. While external affairs covers matters of a diplomatic nature, as well as those relating to international and or supranational institutions like the UN and EU, the fact remains that Bermuda’s entire economy is based on the export of services internationally. Bermuda has, usually with the tacit or sometimes explicit approval of HM Government, [by way of “letters of entrustment”] conducted business directly with various international interests, institutions and entities, both private and public, for its own benefit and on its own behalf.

For example, on our own we negotiated the 1986 Tax Information Treaty with the USA, the first ever for a non-income tax country. We negotiated Solvency II Equivalency status with the European Union for our insurance industry. We were only the third jurisdiction to receive such status, after Switzerland and Japan. We note the UK itself will be facing similar such negotiations after Brexit. We also negotiated NAIS equivalency status for our insurance industry with the USA. We have negotiated countless tax information exchange agreements with third country governments.

In the past 20 years, the Bermuda government ministry that has spearheaded such contacts internationally has been the Ministry of Finance. The reason for this is because our economy is dominated by financial services and due to the continuous ratcheting up of pressure on offshore financial centres relating to the “Tax Haven” issue, an issue which falls under the remit of the Ministry of Finance. And of course, Tax is the Ministry of Finance’s primary business.

Bermuda’s Role in a Changing World

Relations between Bermuda and HM Government were much less controversial prior to the mid 1990’s for two principal reasons: [a] there was a confluence of interests between western nations relating to the Cold War – Bermuda being an important strategic redoubt for NATO against the Soviet Union, [b] Bermuda’s economic activities were not considered material to the global [and the UK’s] economy. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet empire and the end of the Cold War, Bermuda’s perceived global strategic importance evaporated. The rapid expansion of financial services in Bermuda, particularly, insurance and, to a much smaller degree, holding companies of large American multinationals, caught the attention of British business leaders and therefore government policymakers. Bermuda began to be viewed as a real competitor as opposed to something on the outer fringes of the marketplace.

This view was reinforced [or perhaps, exacerbated] by events such as, [a] most of the capital that came into Britain to bail out the collapse of the “Names” system at Lloyds came from, or via, Bermuda, [b] Bermuda, to global acclaim, promptly paid huge insurance claims after 911, while others in Europe struggled to meet their obligations, [c] several high profile insurance leaders in Lloyds decamped to Bermuda, [d] on the negative side, other offshore financial centres that are also, “Dots on the map,” came to be associated with tax evasion, organized crime, money laundering and terrorist financing. Therefore, at the highest corporate policymaking level, the benign, “good old boy” attitude was giving way to, “A wary eye.” Such attitudes were therefore coming to be reflected at the political/civil service level as well.

British Public Opinion

At the “retail” end of the political spectrum in Britain, OT’s became the chief whipping boys of the NGO community as the source of all ills in Britain, both economic and moral. We were wrongfully accused of, “taking food from the mouths of starving babies in Africa.” This false narrative caused great moral outrage among ordinary Britons. There were street demonstrations in London that stretched from Westminster to Threadneedle Street protesting OT’s.

During my time as Minister, I gave interviews to virtually the entire spectrum of the UK media: from the business-oriented media to the tabloids and everything in between, including Panorama. They all peppered me with “Tax Haven” type questions, and after I blunted all their biased questions with factual economic answers, they all defaulted to some version of this “Moral” question: “Well, Minister, don’t you feel that it is morally wrong for rich people or corporations to use Bermuda to lower their taxes, while the British man in the street cannot.” The answer was/is, “If you think it’s immoral, change your own tax system. We didn’t invent the global system of double taxation treaties, you did, along with the Americans. Bermuda’s tax system, dating back to the 1800’s, suits a small island and was not invented to become a ‘Tax Haven.’ If your system doesn’t work for you any more, than change it. We have our own taxes here, and we already give your tax collectors all the data they want to carry out their responsibilities, but don’t expect us to collect your taxes for you.”

tmpHm7kQJ

Economics

From an economic perspective, international investing is an exercise fraught with many risks: financial, political, operational and legal. The mitigation of risks associated with inadequate institutional and legal infrastructure are critical to a successful outcome. Offshore financial centres are in demand worldwide because they offer services that reduce many of these risks. Despite everything, the rule of British law commands great respect globally. It is this virtually invisible asset that gives OT’s a competitive advantage over the other offshore financial centres that are not OT’s, and we have built the institutions and infrastructures to manifest real-life risk reduction tools for our clients.

However, any asset can be overvalued or devalued. If investors perceive that OT’s are going to be constantly subject to the internal party-political machinations of the British Parliament, then this devalues the asset that the OT’s have built and trade on to make a living. Business hates uncertainty. Actions by HM Government over the last 5-7 years have increased this uncertainty and thereby devalued our product.

The fact is that Bermuda, [and I suspect this is so for other financial OT’s as well], provides great benefit to the UK economy. This is very poorly understood in the UK. In Britain it is popularly viewed that we somehow deprive the UK economy or government coffers of something that is rightfully theirs. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Minister of Finance I approved the further funding of an econometric study that measured the benefits that Bermuda’s economic activities provided the US and UK economies. The financial amounts are significant [even by UK standards] as well as the numbers of UK jobs Bermudian entities support. This data is available from the Bermuda Government and/or the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers [ABIR]. I believe that the degree to which this is so is unique to Bermuda. This is yet another reason why one size does not fit all.

Misalignment

This is the essence of the problem between HM Government and Bermuda. Our economic/strategic interests are no longer aligned, and, through insurance/reinsurance and other subsectors, Bermuda’s economic reach is now large enough to impact a large economy like the UK. That impact is very much misunderstood by both the UK public and government officials. The same applies to the EU.

Recent British Parliamentary Action – The “Moral” Side

The British Parliament has recently passed legislation that clearly violates the Bermuda Constitution, a constitution that was negotiated and mutually agreed upon by both parties. Let us put the legal matter aside for the moment. Like the media, certain British MP’s like to talk about moral arguments. Let us look at this “Moral” side. The three largest OT’s [by GDP] are Bermuda, Cayman and BVI. We all rely heavily on providing financial services globally, not just to the UK. We do not have a monopoly on such services. We have global competitors, including the world’s largest and most powerful nation: the United States of America. Public Beneficial Ownership Registers are NOT a global standard. I stated many times as minister that, if public Beneficial Ownership Registers become a GLOBAL STANDARD, we will comply. If the three territories are compelled to make their Registers public with public registers not being a global standard, it is guaranteed that there will be major negative impacts on all three economies. Billions of dollars of business will be lost to other offshore financial centres, many of whom have very low compliance, anti-money laundering and transparency standards. There would, therefore, be a resultant net deterioration in global transparency standards, presumably not the outcome the British Parliament intended.

tmpHm7kQJ

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of jobs will be lost in the OT’s. Local governments will have lost major sources of revenue but will likely retain, or have a greater demand for, expensive social services, and therefore, find themselves in financial difficulty. Yet the British Parliament has said nothing about compensation for the damage to local government finances, livelihoods, businesses and property values their action will cause. The British Parliament clearly does not care about the consequences of its action. Without the offer of compensation, this latest amendment to force OT’s to adopt public registers is immoral and capricious legislation.

Let me state, before anyone gets the wrong impression, I am not advocating receiving compensation from the UK. Bermuda is proud that we do not receive ANY MONEY from Britain, the EU or any other foreign government. We pay our own way. The Bermuda taxpayer even pays the salary and expenses of our British Governor, not HM Government, unlike other OT’s. So, we’re not looking for any hand-outs.

tmpHm7kQJ

The British Parliament’s action can only be rationalized as “moral” if one assumes that we, Bermuda, Cayman and BVI, are all thoroughly corrupt micro-states that have to be “Put down” for the good of mankind. But how can that be? We all have thriving democracies, are ruled by British Law, appealable to the British Privy Council in London, have a British Governor who appoints the Commissioner of Police and who signs off on laws, presumably after referral to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO]. International investment capital is, in fact, attracted to the OT’s with financial service sectors precisely because of that British legal system. So, if we are thoroughly corrupt, what does that make HM Government?

The fact is, we are not thoroughly corrupt, but we are indeed micro-states. Micro-states that are vulnerable to an unpredictable outside world. The last place from which we would have expected to receive a nasty, existential blow is from our “friends” in Westminster – the people who should most understand us, but clearly don’t.

Recent British Parliamentary Action – The Legal Side

On the legal side, the beneficial ownership information in question is clearly the property of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, which is a creature of the local legislature via legislation, and the Minister of Finance administratively. This information used to be top secret, not even knowable by local government officials. But we have had to change with the times. Since the late 1990’s, the degree of information sharing with other tax and law enforcement authorities has been unprecedented. We have been early adopters of all the evolving global standards of tax and beneficial ownership information sharing – either on the leading edge or ahead of that curve.

For example, I personally signed, as Minister of Finance, the protocol between the Bermuda Government and HM Government establishing the transmittal of beneficial ownership information to the UK Government on a 24-hour turnaround basis and a 1-hour basis in emergencies. This was an unprecedented step forward. Bermuda has been the leading OT insofar as international cooperation on tax and beneficial ownership matters.

tmpHm7kQJ

From a Bermuda perspective, none of these matters fall under HM Government’s authority or responsibilities. They are all matters for the democratically elected Bermuda government. The Bermuda Constitution clearly shows this. There is already precedent whereby HM Government has issued Orders in Council to other Territories but has instead made requests for approval by the Bermuda legislature. We are different from the other OT’s in this respect. However, in the case of public beneficial ownership registers, even though I am not a member of that body any longer, I am confident that approval from the Bermuda Parliament is not likely to be forthcoming.

The British Parliament cannot, at its whim, and against the will of a democratically elected local parliament, fracture a convention that has been in place for 50 years. Such conventions form an integral part of the Constitution. The convention in question is that the Constitution cannot be unilaterally amended by either party, but must, instead, be agreed between the parties. The action taken by the UK Parliament on this matter is, in fact, a unilateral alteration of our Constitution. One of the chapters in 20th century history that the UK would prefer to forget was the constitutional crisis precipitated by UDI in Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe]. Except the unilateralism, in this case, is on the other foot. Then there is the echo from the 18th Century of, “No taxation without representation.” Before any attempt to override us, HM Government and British MP’s should remember that Bermuda has no representation in the British Parliament. This is 2018, not 1718.

tmpHm7kQJ

The Bermudian Prism

There has been much pontificating in both houses of the British Parliament on human rights, specifically within the context of Bermuda’s struggle with the same sex marriage issue. This struggle continues in Bermuda through the courts and I expect it will work itself out one way or the other in due course. But before British MP’s mount their moral high horses too eagerly, they should be mindful that it wasn’t that long ago that Bermuda was locked in its own version of Apartheid. British Authorities had much more sway over local matters in Bermuda in those days, as it predated Bermuda’s 1968 Constitution. In 1946 local activist Dr. E.F. Gordon, assisted in London by E.T. Richards, [later Sir Edward Richards], placed a petition before the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Creech Jones, in London to inform the British government of the plight of black Bermudians. The British government did virtually nothing. Shortly after that incident, in 1948, Bermuda was the final port of call of the immigrant ship HMT Empire Windrush, before it crossed the Atlantic to Britain; the fate of the descendants of those immigrants, some from Bermuda, having recently become highly controversial. Therefore, from the Bermudian perspective, the British record, as it relates to human rights, is not exemplary, by any measure.

It is through this prism that we, in Bermuda, perceive statements of moral rectitude from members of the British Parliament and the British media.

It appears to many of us that the British moral compass is heavily influenced by the magnetic field of whatever the UK’s strategic interests are at the time. During the Creech Jones era the overarching interest was the emerging Cold War – didn’t want to rock any boats then. Now that Bermuda is an economic competitor, and some other Overseas Territories have been outright embarrassments to the UK, the needle of the moral compass has swung dramatically. One would have thought that a moral compass would be like a nautical compass: magnetically always pointing north, no matter how and when it’s held. Ultimately, it is our impression that the British Parliament cares about Overseas Territories when it suits them, and as it suits them.

tmpHm7kQJ

Passports

There is an issue important to Bermudians relating to Bermuda passports, now printed in the UK. Up until recently they were printed in Bermuda. Bermuda has a unique position of being specifically mentioned in the US Immigration Act as exempt from requiring a visa to enter the US. Old passports printed in Bermuda, like mine, have a code on it that identifies me as not requiring a visa for the US to US immigration officials and in airlines’ computers. But the new passports, printed in the UK, at HM Government’s insistence, have a new code which does not register that privilege to the Bermuda passport holder. This can cause problems for Bermudians with the new passports trying to enter the US from countries other than Bermuda. The reason given for printing these new, problematic passports in the UK was “security reasons,” even though there has never been a case of the existence of a fake Bermudian passport. The Bermuda Government, of which I was a part, and the current Bermuda Government, have met with bureaucratic foot dragging from the UK government on changing the code on the new Bermudian passports. Again, the one size fits all approach is creating a problem for Bermudians.

This experience does not auger well for satisfactory resolution of matters that will certainly arise after Brexit. The challenges for Bermudian travelers to the EU will surely mount.

One Size Fits All

This brings me to how to proceed in the future. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO] has refused to acknowledge, by its actions, the obvious fact that there is a wide diversity among Overseas Territories. Our economies, cultures, degree of economic development and most importantly, constitutions are different. Yet my experience was that there was lip service, but no real willingness, to recognize these differences and act accordingly. Bermuda enjoys more constitutional autonomy than any other Territory, yet there were several occasions where there was refusal to acknowledge that important fact. There was always an attempt for a one size fits all policy. FCO continuously succumbs to the stereotyping of the Territories.

But this problem seems to have started at the top. In 2013 a letter from the British Prime Minister was received by our Premier to, “Get our house in order,” in the context of transparency, and tax cooperation. At that time Britain did not have a register of beneficial ownership of any kind, while Bermuda had had one for 70 years. At that time, we also had a Tax Information Exchange Agreement network with over 60 countries, including the UK. None of the other OT’s could claim that. To add insult to injury, that letter was made public before the original even reached Bermuda. Similar letters were received by other OT’s.

How are we supposed to perceive this latest initiative by the Foreign Affairs Committee in view of such disrespectful and hostile treatment from, in the first instance the British Prime Minister and then the British Parliament?

I attended 4 annual “Joint Ministerial Conferences” in London during my tenure. While I enjoyed the social interaction, from a purely Bermudian perspective, I found these meetings of limited strategic value. The reason is, as explained above, the JMC is based on a false premise that because all the participants are Overseas Territories, the discussion could cover common problems. But the divergence of interests, degrees of development and financial needs vary so widely that the discussions and communiques usually were watered down and bland.

The bilateral meetings with various UK ministers and departments were a much better use of time, and we didn’t need a JMC for bilaterals to take place. The JMC’s value appears to be more a matter of convenience for the FCO rather than anything of meaningful value for each OT.

Conclusion

As increasingly difficult as the relationship between Bermuda and HM Government has become, I think a useful and mutually beneficial relationship can be achieved going forward. But HM Government must first and foremost accept that each and every OT is different and the cookie cutter approach it has taken in the past is counterproductive.

Some readers of this submission might interpret this as a call for Bermuda’s independence. It is not. Stereotyping is a human trait that helps us understand the world around us, but stereotyping can also lead to wrong conclusions and harmful policies. UK policymakers must refrain from stereotyping, “Dots on the map.”

tmpHm7kQJ

 

The model for our relationship needs to be updated, not necessarily legislatively, but certainly via updated conventions and practices. British MP’s should refrain from embroiling Bermuda in their internal party-partisan wrangling. This submission is a call for a more thoughtful, respectful and constructive relationship between HM Government and the Bermuda Government.

click here banner British Overseas Territories

Share via email

Read More About

Category: All, News, Politics

Comments (36)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. And he aint even mentioned about Reparations to African descendants who gave 400 years of FREE labour in the Colonized lands which they were exploited.
    Aint nothing changed, same mindset as de Colonization days and when Mark Bean used to speak his mind about the abuse of the UK, SpongeBob was de first to rebuke him.

    • Gustav says:

      reparations ?
      you are kidding !
      yes I know , all the white ones are born with a golden spoon in their mouth.
      get real , think forward and don’t live always in the past

      • PBanks says:

        Gustav, Holocaust families received reparations. Several Native Americans have. As has Aboriginies. What’s significantly different in the case of the descendants of slaves?

        • Toodle-oo says:

          Comparing the holocaust to slavery is apples and oranges as unpalatable as it may be to hear.
          The holocaust and the resulting thievery was the result of an illegal war waged by a madman in very recent times .
          Slavery , which began a long , long time ago (and is still practiced in many places) only became illegal , basically in the western world , once the UK sought to abolish it in the 1800′s .
          And no , I’m not trying to downplay the horrors of slavery , old and abolished or current.
          Just very different time lines.
          Besides, people looking for reparations today are in fact beneficiaries of a system partly built up by their long departed ancestors.

          • Couldnt ask for a better white privileged answer then that.
            So if your Anscestors were stolen from their home country, seperated from families,chained like animals, spent months on over crowded vessels in feces and vomet, tossed overboard while chained, taken to a foreign land against their will, forced to work without pay for 400 years, being raped and murdered without Justice, being falsly accused and jailed, and while in jail being taken out of jail by mobs and hung, sold from plantation to plantation like cattle, built up communities that flourished only to have them burnt to the ground (Black Wall Street and Rosewood to name a few, fought in wars and died for their country while being discriminated against, contributed to numorous inventions and not given the credit, fought for Rights and Justice (while some gave their life), denied a liveable wage and top positions in employment, denied Bank loans, not allowed to vote (and still voter suppression still being practiced), unarmed Blacks being shot and killed by those who are supposed to protect and served, a Black IB worker gets paid less than their fellow worker with same credentials, and now in the US an epidemic of white people calling the police on Black people for trivial things (to much to name but youtube have them all) and to top it off America have a racist @$$#@£€ as a President.
            Not only did you downplay the horrors of slavery but you disrespected our anscestors and those of us who are present by your insensitive obnoxious comment.
            So we benifitted from a system partly built by our departed ascestors?
            No our anscestors FULLY BUILT for this system for FREE, while others benifitted and still benifitting.
            This system was built against us and we STILL have to protest and fight against an injust system.
            Yes slavery was a long time ago, but we still have remnants of it, just like you have the undeserved privileged that inherited the remnants of the wealth that was generated by slavery.
            And slavery was a legal act wagef by madmen.

          • PBanks says:

            Two items come to mind:

            First that former slaveholders got ‘reparations’ while former slaves got zilch upon the abolition of slavery by the UK. Certainly that has to have given the former slaveholders a major leg up.

            Second, the Haiti example. Upon independence Haiti was forced into major debt to France. A major debt that is impossible to get out of. An economic slavery, if you will.

            Gustav’s suggesting that everybody is on a clean and equal slate now when those two examples suggest it’s patently untrue.

  2. Kathy says:

    Bob Richards, you have spoken so well on behalf of the Bermudian people. This is one instance where across all party lines, I would vote, if forced to by the British Government, for independence. You are not calling for independence but this issue is something that affects the livelihood of EVERY Bermudian. We will NOT open our registers publicly until it becomes a global standard to include countries like the USA and the UK.

    Just look at what happened in Switzerland. The USA enacted FATCA, which required foreign financial institutions to report the identities and assets of potential US taxpayers to the Internal Revenue Service. Switzerland complied, opened its bank registers and look at that….everyone took their money out and ran elsewhere….where did they go? Back home to the USA into some of the biggest tax haven states like Nevada.

    The USA was expected to reciprocate, by sharing data on the accounts of foreign taxpayers with their respective governments. Congress rejected the Obama administration’s repeated requests to make the necessary changes to the tax code. In the end, the Treasury could not compel U.S. banks to reveal information such as account balances and names of beneficial owners. The U.S. also failed to adopt the Common Reporting Standard, a global agreement under which more than 100 countries automatically provide each other with even more data than FATCA requires.

    While the rest of the world provides the transparency that the USA demanded originally, the USA is rapidly becoming the new Switzerland. Pretty smart, right? Shut down foreign tax havens and then steal their business. Is this what the UK intends with Bermuda?

    Let’s hope the former Governor provides us with some representation today. Premier Burt and Hon. Bob Richards, thank you for all your hard work on this very very important decision for Bermuda!

    • sandgrownan says:

      Well, hold on. You know you cannot negotiate with US in good faith. Not that that was ever true, but it’s exposed more now.

      Secondly, don’t rush for independence. It’s better to negotiate with the UK from the inside. From the outside, it will be much much harder. And part of our stability is built on that relationship, privy council for example.

      We have to continue to press home the case. I note Bermuda is not on the latest OECD blacklist (see article in The Guardian) so there presumably is some progress.

      • Kathy says:

        Agree. Better to negotiate from the inside and making progress is always good. However, this is the one decision, if pressed by the UK, that will define our future. This affects all Bermudians’ livelihoods. And if forced by the UK on this one, I would not hesitate to vote for independence!

  3. DoubleTalk says:

    Another one who refuses to go away.

    But credit where credit is due, he is right on this one, as indeed is the current Government. What these guys really should be pursuing is getting us a few Oligarchs here to start living the high life and F the Neo Colonialists who think we all should be running around serving swizzles.

    • sandgrownan says:

      “Another one who refuses to go away” ? Please.

      You don’t have to like him, but he saved your ass.

    • PBanks says:

      He did indicate his response was as a private citizen, as is his right. No need to browbeat him for this.

    • Rocky5 says:

      Oligarchs – you can’t possibly mean “Commercial Immigration” ??

      • Rocky5 says:

        Oligarchs – you can’t possibly mean “Commercial Immigration” could you??

  4. David J. Tavares says:

    Her Majesty’s Government will have the last say!! Check the Bermuda Constitutional Order in Council 1966.We are still dependent and until we are independent, the final decisions will be made by H M Government.

    • Kathy says:

      …and a VERY good reason to become independent. This requirement on the OTs whilst not a requirement on themselves is hypocritical beyond words and worth favouring independence over. Bermuda will NOT open its registers unless it becomes a global standard requiring all other countries to do the same!

  5. Well... says:

    I find myself saying it again… you won’t and don’t have to agree with Mr. Richards politics (I don’t), but this is a topic that he has been consistent on and consistently right on. I’ve heard politicians from both sides of the isle say it, but from what I’ve seen Mr. Richards has been the most vocal. The OTs can’t be the whipping boys of the foreign politicians in hopes of them getting a pat on the back and a cheap vote. If the larger countries want to set a standard, let’s see them abide by it first while keeping in mind that in some instances the OTs are more thorough in their legislation regarding beneficial ownership. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no bigger tax haven than the state of Delaware and no one is talking about that. The political climate in some of the larger jurisdictions is getting so that they’d try and tax the breaths their citizens are taking on foreign soil per exhale and tax foreigners per inhale of domestic air. Listen countries like the U.K. benefited greatly through expansion of the empire now that that revenue source has dried up in a sense, they are looking for ways to unfairly bleed their dependents. It’s economics bullying and I’m glad Mr. Richards is calling it for what it is.

    • David J. Tavares says:

      I agree with your views, and support both Mr. Richards and the Premier’s position and voice for Bermuda. But unless Bermudians decides on their future, things will remain the same. I recall a former Governor of Bermuda, at a Christmas luncheon, saying ” Bermuda really isn’t another world. There is a back room where the final say will be made”

      • Kathy says:

        …and a VERY good reason to become independent. This requirement on the OTs whilst not a requirement on themselves is hypocritical beyond words and worth favouring independence over. Bermuda will NOT open its registers unless it becomes a global standard requiring all other countries to do the same!

  6. Alvin Williams says:

    Bermuda is Britain’s colonial territory and no matter what our constitution states that relationship is the bottom line

  7. Jt says:

    What a loss. We traded Richards for Famous. Gaaaawd.

    • Ya, we dont have any money and money dont grow on trees ( unless you live in Colorado), and after he told seniors that, whala $70 Million for a sailboat race for Billionaires.
      Thats why his @$$ got voted out.

      • Anbu says:

        I see you are still too stupid to see the return investment on the ac so ill tell u again. Over 300 million returned. When (EVER) has the pee el pee made a positive investment return on ANYTHING? Maybe had your precious ministers not spent any and every cent of money on stupid trips that have done nothing, zero, nada for our every day “bermudians”, we would be in a better position than we r. You prove your idiocy daily oj. You are “jealous” plain and simple that your politicians are too thick headed to get anything done to benefit the people they are supposed to represent. All while lining their pockets with your money. You wanna see some money go to seniors?! Hit up ewart, he has it all. But u wont. Wonder why? Oh wait……

      • Jt says:

        $70 into $300+ million. Waiting for the PLP to do anything close.

    • steve says:

      tells you all you need to know about the voter

    • PBanks says:

      One could say that Richards economic policy was trumped by his public policy. Didn’t he take a ton of licks for his perceived attitude towards seniors (the whole money doesn’t grow on trees comment)?

  8. inna says:

    And he is wayyy better off than you mate!

    Come again!

  9. TomBoy says:

    Not sure about all the stuff that Bob goes on about but I know of at least one instance of the use of a fake Bermuda passport. Ask Bermuda Immigration before making such comments Bob. Hope you checked your other facts more carefully.

  10. Erwin says:

    Another one who needs to go away.

Leave a Reply