Premier: “We Have Not Signed An Agreement”

June 18, 2013

[Updated with video] Bermuda “has not signed any agreement at all” and neither have the other territories, Premier Craig Cannonier said today [June 18] at a press conference held to provide an update on his recent trip to London.

Premier Cannonier and Finance Minister Bob Richards, attended the meeting in London along with representatives of other British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

British Prime Minister David Cameron had asked senior representatives of the various islands and territories to London to discuss tax issues before the G8 summit. Prior to that, Mr Cameron had written a letter to the Overseas Territories asking them to “get their house in order” when it came to international tax matters.

Speaking today the Premier said, “We must look at every ‘T’ and make sure it is crossed, and every ‘I’ and make sure it is dotted, because we do not want to put in jeopardy the financial model that we do have in Bermuda

The Premier said, “Bermuda’s model is an insurance center, not a banking domicile. What we do here is we look out for nations like the US and UK. When there are catastrophes, the companies that are domiciled here in Bermuda are paying large premiums when these disasters do happen.”

“There is a great misunderstanding about what it is that we do. So we will continue to ensure that we get the message out there.”

“We are an insurance jurisdiction and will continue to thrive in that market,” said the Premier. “Since the 1940s Bermuda has been exchanging information. When it comes to regulations, Bermuda has always been the forerunners.”

When asked if any of the other territories signed anything, the Premier said, “No. They may have since which, but no. As of the time that I left, no one had signed up.

“Let me just expand on that…as far as the agenda is concerned, there is nothing in the agenda that said we had to sign up. It’s important that you know that. At the meetings there was no pieces of paper placed in front of us that we had to sign to.”

“I think what is important before we say that no one signed up, it is important to understand that sovereign nations like the United States, Canada the likes are still coming to terms with this global agreement, so it’s going to be a while before we all come to a consensus as to exactly the direction we want to go in. They also want to ensure they are looking at this very closely and they are being responsible as well.

“So as we move toward tightening up the net of illegal activity, and the likes, I’m sure that some agreements will be found, but right now we are not at that position.”

Asked about situations involving companies like Google reducing the amount of tax they have to pay using Bermuda and other jurisdictions, Premier Cannonier said, “It is important to understand the model first, Bermuda is just a part of a chain after the fact.

“With the agreements that Google has, those agreements come into places like Ireland who have a double tax treaty act in place. Bermuda is down the chain. So if you want to avoid this thing happening, the UK, the G8 nations need to go to Ireland and the likes and address them first.”

Also speaking today was Minister Bob Richards who said, “One of the things it made me aware of, that there is in London there is a kind of groundswell against offshore financial centers which is being driven by a number of factors.”

“The US is coming out of a recession, the UK and Europe are not. Unemployment remains very high, budget deficits are ballooning. It is a very difficult and negative environment over there, and I believe that Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are, to some extent, being used as scapegoats and distractions.”

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Comments (4)

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  1. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    Thanks for being the first, of the print media, to give us, in London, a timely update from Bermuda.

    The premier’s message is contrary to many printed newspapers in London, but then a false impression to the public here may well be heavy posturing for the G8 Summit.

    London, England

  2. Xman says:

    When the British Prime Minister made comments that could dangerously effect the prosperity of reputation of Bermuda
    the Premier had no choice to go see whats on this Mans mind.
    It’s allways good to see the person of interest face to face in order to resolve the issue. – I would have done the same thing.
    The way we do business is legal and constitutional –we dont need to sign no papers.