Video: Press Conference On EU Tax List

March 12, 2019 | 37 Comments

[Updated] Minister of Finance Curtis Dickinson will be holding a press conference at around 2.00pm this afternoon [March 12] to provide an update on the European Union’s list of what they deem to be ‘non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes’, which now includes Bermuda. We will be live streaming the press conference and will update this article, plus the original article, with the video once the press conference begins.

“This is a setback but we are confident that Bermuda will soon be removed from this list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.” said Premier David Burt after the news emanating from today’s ECOFIN meeting in Brussels.

The Premier advised that “although the decision to adopt today’s revised list was approved by all Member States, a significant reservation was expressed by the UK Government whose representative stated for the record:

“The UK agreement to the Council Conclusions on the revised EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes is on the basis that as set out in the Conclusions, jurisdictions should be removed as soon as possible after they have demonstrated they are compliant. The UK notes that Bermuda has legislated to address the issue identified‎. In light of this we expect Bermuda, and other compliant jurisdictions, to be removed from the list at the next available opportunity.”

The Premier continued: “The next meeting is in May and in the short interim period we will continue to make sure Member States are clear that Bermuda is compliant and that our legislation is fully in force and is being implemented. It is important to recognize that we do not anticipate any sanctions as against Bermuda as a jurisdiction and there will be no impact on any rights of travel or otherwise that Bermudians currently enjoy. This listing is for tax purposes only.”

The Minister of Finance Curtis Dickinson will hold a press conference later today to address the issues but in advance of that said: “Bermuda’s compliance with the EU requirements around economic substance is a matter of record and has been acknowledged by the UK Treasury and confirmed to Member States.

“In the coming days and weeks we will continue to work with industry partners to assure Bermuda businesses and investors that we will be removed from this list at the earliest opportunity. Bermuda remains a well regulated jurisdiction that has met every international standard over many years.”

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 18-minute replay is below

Update 3.07pm: Premier Burt’s remarks:

Good afternoon and thank you for coming. As I indicated in a statement earlier today, the news from Brussels this morning is a setback for Bermuda. It is disappointing that after endless hours of crafting a regime that would meet the required test and in fact having one now in force has not been enough to prevent our addition to the EU’s list on non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.

Bermuda is compliant and we are confident that within a matter of weeks, that will be accepted by EU Member States and Bermuda will be removed from this list. This confidence is shared by the UK Government who through the Treasury specifically stated “that Bermuda has legislated to address the issue identified‎. In light of this we expect Bermuda, and other compliant jurisdictions, to be removed from the list at the next available opportunity.”

Today’s developments are not where we want to be and certainly are not where we intended to be when we embarked on this process. In various public statements I have referred to external threats to our jurisdiction and this is one of those we must address.

The various stakeholder groups represented here today demonstrate a Bermuda show of strength and determination to preserve a jurisdictional reputation earned over several decades. Working together we will preserve investor and business confidence and continue to demonstrate that Bermuda has met the standard required by the EU.

I wish to assure the people of Bermuda that we do not anticipate any sanctions to be levied against us and this will in no way affect how we travel or otherwise interact with the EU.

Let me also state that we will be pressing Bermuda’s case, emphasizing that fairness must be the order of the day. Our industry partners have commented on the paradox of our Regulations being stricter than some of those countries that have not been listed. I believe that between now and May, a fair assessment of Bermuda’s legislation will confirm our compliance and we will be removed from the List.

The Minister of Finance will address some of the stakeholder engagement and the more technical issues that surround today’s decision.

Thank you.

Minister Dickinson’s remarks:

Good afternoon.

Earlier today the European Union committee of finance ministers, known as the Economic and Financial Affairs Council [ECOFIN] placed Bermuda on its list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.

I would like to provide an update as to developments that have arisen as a result of this decision, as well, I will provide details on our compliance measures preceding this decision.

We are currently consulting with the UK government given they are a member of ECOFIN and are also members of all the technical support committees that make recommendations to ECOFIN.

Her Majesty’s Treasury [HMT] has this morning advised us that the UK will submit its minutes of the ECOFIN meeting to articulate the UK’s view that Bermuda’s last submission to the Commission on 4th March 2019 satisfies the one remaining issue that had been identified.

The UK’s communique makes clear their expectation that Bermuda should be delisted at the next ECOFIN in May, as there is no April ECOFIN.

Additionally, the UK has published an online note this morning stating, and I quote: “The UK agreement to the Council Conclusions on the revised EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes is on the basis that as set out in the Conclusions, jurisdictions should be removed as soon as possible after they have demonstrated they are compliant. The UK notes that Bermuda has legislated to address the issue identified‎. In light of this we expect Bermuda, and other compliant jurisdictions, to be removed from the list at the next available opportunity.”

I wish to emphasize that Bermuda is a cooperative jurisdiction with the EU for tax purposes. In the spirit of continued cooperation that has been a hallmark of and underpinned Bermuda’s international tax cooperation framework over many years, the Government has recently legislated to address all technical requirements.

As it stands today, Bermuda has addressed all issues identified and is now fully compliant.

Some may ask if we are compliant, then why are we on the EU’s list that was released today. I will do my best to explain.

In Bermuda’s amending submission to the EU Commission dated February 22nd 2019 we attached the revised Economic Substance Regulations which amended regulation 16.

This was done to address a Commission concern from the January 30th, 2019 Code of Conduct Group [COCG] meeting. This submission to the COCG was made in good time prior to their February 24, 2019 cutoff date. There was a technical omission which was flagged, and as a result we proactively sent a March 4th, 2019 revision to address any possible lingering concern and it was circulated by the Commission to the EU member states in good time prior to the member states tax envoys meeting of March 8th, 2019.

Some press reports claim that the member states tax envoys meeting of March 8th, 2019 did not fully consider Bermuda’s March 4th 2019 revision when making their recommendations for today’s meeting.

If at the end of this process on economic substance a minor technical omission in Regulations was addressed too late for it to be considered to Bermuda’s benefit, although it satisfied the one remaining stated concern of the Commission that arose at the COCG meeting of February 27, 2019 it is very disappointing given the ECOFIN meeting was on the 12th March 2019 and our amending submission was made on 4th March 2019 that we find ourselves here today.

Nonetheless, as I stated earlier, the UK in its public statement of today has indicated from its vantage point, as a member of all of these EU meetings, that Bermuda’s 4th March 2019 amending submission proactively fixed that one remaining provision and we fully expect to be removed from the list on or before the next ECOFIN meeting.

Additionally, Bermuda officials will visit key EU Ministers in Brussels, Paris, and Berlin to reinforce Bermuda’s position. We are working closely with our industry stakeholders and we will continue to be a jurisdiction of choice despite today’s setback.

As the Premier indicated, the last few months have been a trying time, and I want to thank all the stakeholders from industry who have assisted the ministry of Finance during this process with their time and ideas. It is not lost on any of us that Bermuda’s substance regulations are regarded as the strictest, yet we find ourselves alone on this list.

I met with many of the stakeholders and the leader of the opposition to apprise them of the possibility of today’s result. My message yesterday and today are the same, we must be united to work to ensure that Bermuda is removed from the list, and I am confident that this unwarranted inclusion will be reversed at the earliest opportunity.

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Comments (37)

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  1. Ok says:

    Too late to fix it now Burt. ..next week next week next week….sounds like Teresa May lol

    • inna says:

      Or like my grandmother who seems to leave everything for “tomorrow”

    • So all those years the hat lady was flying to these countries to work out making these treatys with the EU countries was for what purpose?? PEOPLES LYING PARTY

    • Spilt milk says:

      That fact we have T.I.A.’s in place and some pending with the same countries that voted is baffling.I wonder if that is enough to start litigation against them?

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    “This is a setback but we are confident that Bermuda will soon be removed from this list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.” said Premier David Burt after the news emanating from today’s ECOFIN meeting in Brussels.

    With respect, Mr. Premier, that is not the point. The Economic Substance Act 2018 was rushed through Parliament in December expressly to stave off this branding as a tax haven.

    Why was our Act insufficient when similar Acts passed in the Channel Islands, BVI, Cayman and other places were successful?

    Why has the EU accused us of “playing games”?

    Why are we in this mess?

  3. question says:

    Of course they don’t take any responsibility for this at all. Typical.

    This never would have happened if Bob Richards was handling it.

    • sandgrownan says:

      They are incapable of accepting any sort of responsibility.

    • Tania Stafford says:

      Question, you have a short memory.

      As Finance Minister, Mr. Richards had strong words for the UK on Bermuda’s role in the global finance industry.

      Look at the group assembled at this press conference, for once we have bipartisan support for an initiative, let’s stop the political games and allow the leaders in the financial services industry to work with the Government to assure we comply.

      • Question says:

        Bob Richards never got into this mess. He handled the UK relationship properly. This lot have skipped meetings, missed deadlines, and handled it badly. And now we’re on the blacklist. It’s inexcusable.

      • Trufth says:

        “for once we have bi-partisan support for an issue”????

        You are hilarious! This is not support, it’s asking someone else, anyone else (even from the OTHER team) to help dig them out of the massive sh!t storm they got themselves into!

  4. Mark says:

    At least the background rent-a-crowd looks more diverse for once.

  5. Ringmaster says:

    Premier Burt seems to be blaming anyone and everyone except the PLP Government. Clearly the fault lies there, as even the UK have supported Bermuda, which goes against the version that blamed the UK for not helping. Why did Bermuda end on the blacklist, when Cayman and the Turks and Caicos as 2 very similar jurisdictions did not? They clearly complied with the requirements and Bermuda didn’t and it’s come back to bite. Self inflicted and totally unnecessary. Grow up and learn to move in the world, rather than behave like the mouse that roared.

    • watching says:

      where did he blame anyone?
      it was clearly stated that there was an unfortunate omission that has been rectified and we expect/hope to be cleared at the nearest opportunity.
      I heard no blame placed anywhere.
      I thought the press conference was well done and clearly articulated the issues regarding our listing.
      It isn’t necessary to play politics with every single thing.

      • Ringmaster says:

        The blame was clear in that Premier Burt took no responsibility for the mess. As to the stakeholders, they were used for political purposes and should be ashamed to have not realized this and appeared in the photo shoot.

        • Trufth says:

          I 100% agree that the pawns standing in the background should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be used. They should be embarrassed. They have all lost credibility and look like idiots.

      • Question says:

        Who is resigning or being fired for causing this existential threat to Bermuda’s economy?

  6. Fooled me twice says:

    Burt so serious, just except responsibility move on. Guaranteed you screw something else up.

  7. Missd point says:

    as cathartic playing the blame game would be–especially calling out all those that so monumentally screwed this up–and rest assured–it wasn’t the EU’s fault, WE LOT, BERMUDA, screwed this up–we don’t have the luxury of playing the blame game.

    We have got to get the Gvt on a plane and over to Europe now and get working on this. This MUST be cleared in May.

    Forget new business that is not going to happen for the next 6 weeks now—this is about reassuring our existing international business partners that they in fact are operating in a Blue Chip financial centre.

    Never have the stakes been so high for Bermuda.

    Never has Bermuda looked so bad on the international stage.

    • LaV says:

      “Never has Bermuda looked so bad on the international stage.”

      LOL, yes we have.

      Look at our human rights blunders…the world thinks bermuda is nothing but a banana republic.

  8. Retro says:

    Will we ever find out what the “ one remaining issue” was ? So we can decide whether or not games were being played. I hope it wasn’t some sort of attempted fintech loophole . We need some more answers on this.

    • Chris says:

      BINGO. How does anyone “omit” to complete a section of the firm? Who was the person in charge of the submission and have they been fired? If not why not?

  9. interesting says:

    Will you be announcing your resignation Mr Burt for this failure? I think you should.

  10. MPP says:

    Major error, Bermuda Government.

    • Wahoo says:

      The error began a long time before this and they only have their own arrogance to thank for it. They are too proud (or stupid) to accept their misplaced egos are at fault.

  11. So this is the same PLP that’s trying to go independent! OMG

  12. aceboy says:

    There is 3 weeks left for the UK to secure a deal with the EU for Brexit. The Bitish MPs just voted “No” to Theresa May’s latest “deal”.

    Does Burt really think he can rely on the UK for help while that is going on and after recent snubbings on visits where football game attendance was deemed more important?

    So much for the brilliance of Burt. He and the PLP have totally and utterly dropped the ball on this one and it has the potential to REALLY hurt this island.

  13. Red rose says:

    So we missed a deadline? Does not matter if it was technical – it’s the optics that count.
    Who was responsible?

    • wahoo says:

      Same people that are responsible for the “very pretty” fire hydrants that do not work.

  14. Donderered says:

    Well, thank goodness for the uk eh? Burt et al are happy about that aren’t they? What would be happening without their support on this?

  15. Lmao says:

    Shouldn’t have been on it in the first place regardless if we come off it…….bunch of amateurs lmfao

  16. Trufth says:

    “This is a setback but we are confident that Bermuda will soon be removed from this list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.” DB.

    Burt, stop saying this isn’t a huge deal and it will be over soon!!

    This is like being pregnant and saying “don’t worry, this will all be over in 9 short months.” NO, IT WON’T BE OVER! Your life is forever changed after 9 months. Bermuda is now forever changed! BLACKLISTED is BLACKLISTED! This is a very bad stain on Bermuda that will not come out in the wash. Ever.

  17. Not in my house says:

    Seriously? This is a storm in a tea cup! Nothing gonna happen and no long term issues as no one wraps up business because of a technicality amongst politicians! This is yet again hype by the media engine to scare people! Journalists need Jesus!

  18. Ringmaster says:

    Too much time sweating the small stuff like takeovers of Corporations, bus schedules, trash collection. Concentrate on the important matters like keeping IB here and generating new business, as without them Bermuda is finished. What new business such as Fintech will incorporate here when Bermuda is on a blacklist?

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

    Where was the highly paid BMA on all this? Jokers.

  20. Warwick West says:

    Rome burns while the PLP tinker with taking over of Corporations, patting their collective backs over long overdue bus schedules, poor/no trash collection, putting totally untrained persons like Sherri J in as a legal consultant, let alone all the other consultants that are not qualified. Perhaps if Sherri J WAS qualified we would not have ended up on the EU black list? PLP keep giving away $1.2mn bucks to your puppet master DREB; keep paying all these unnecessary and unqualified ‘consultants’, keep ignoring the obvious chaos and festering mess that surrounds everything you do and everything you touch and, when we are no more; you will only have to look in your collective mirrors! And that includes all of you deluded voters who blindly support the PLP as they destroy your future. There is none so blind as those who will not see.

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