Report: Bermuda “Refuses” Cameron Request

November 22, 2014

“David Cameron’s campaign to destroy the ‘cloak of secrecy’ around the ownership of offshore companies has been snubbed by the richest and most important of the UK’s overseas territories,” a report from the UK’s Independent claims.

Their report said, “Bermuda boasts of being the ‘risk capital of the world’ because of the huge number of insurance and re-insurance companies registered on the islands, which account for more than a quarter of Bermuda’s GDP.

“Bob Richards, finance minister of Bermuda, was in London this month, warning that the islands face a hostile economic climate, despite being host to many of the world’s insurance companies, and having a per capita income of nearly £55,000 – one of the highest in the world.

“After his departure, he announced that Bermuda would ‘reserve any commitment’ to create a register of who owns Bermuda-based companies until after the UK, USA and Canada had created registers, which means a delay of several years at least.”

Screenshot of the Independent’s article:

1-Fullscreen capture 11222014 93714 AM

The Independent quote Minister Richards as saying, “If we agree to a public register while our competitors around the world do not, we will put ourselves at a distinct disadvantage, severely damaging our economy.”

In a recent speech to the Bermuda Society in London, Minister Richards said, “One thing is clear, 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, an economy that is struggling to emerge from five consecutive years of economic contraction.

“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.”

Minister Richards added, “It is important to note that Bermuda has never been a jurisdiction with bank secrecy laws, despite what you might read in the media. Nothing could be further from the truth. We do, however, respect the privacy accorded to people according to British Common Law.

“We have gone out of our way to cooperate with other countries’ tax authorities when it comes to sharing information on their taxpayers doing business in Bermuda.”

The Minister said Bermuda has over 70 tax information exchange agreements with other countries, adding that “If you are a tax evader, a terrorist financier or a fraudster, don’t use Bermuda. We don’t want your business and you are not protected on our shores.”

You can read the full report from the Independent here, and Minister Richards full speech in London here.

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Comments (49)

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  1. aceboy says:

    He actually didn’t refuse the request, he merely said “You first”.

    Quite right too. Let’s see some transparency out of the US UK and Canada for a damn change.

  2. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    Not very smart Bob Richards.

    Think of David Cameron’s options:
    1) an order to council, (which means he can tighten the reins on Bermuda politically without going into Parliament in London to do so, after all they are our sovereign nation);
    2) he can call Barack Obama and Obama can call Larry Ellison – it’s call politics; and/or
    3)they can declare Bermuda an imminent threat to their economies and drag Bermuda into court and drain our economy into stagnation(only lawyers win here).

    Just as Bermuda is all over the world news regarding the Americas Cup and our tax haven status, London will take note.

    • Sky Pilot says:

      Cameron cannot do s***!

      • Black Soil says:

        Valirie, if you cannot see that the UK and US are playing politics with the offshore jurisdictions to make it look like they are doing something to improve their own local mess, then you are more stupid than ever imagined. More dirty money flows through the US and UK in one minute than all the years Bermuda has been in business. The UK and US want the world to think that it is those pesky offshore center which are the problem. NO, they are the problem!!! All what bro. Richards is trying to say is that if the UK and US lead by example, then he will be happy to follow.

        • frank says:

          to see how corrupt the us is go to this web site

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        • Kunta says:

          And we’re giving $2million every year to her.

    • MIsterMan311 says:


      Yes, Cameron and Co. can DO all of that (well, not the whole ‘dragging Bermuda into court’ thing, which is absurd in reality). However, the question you fail to appreciate is whether they WILL. It’s all well and good to spout the various things you learned about at law school, but the political reality in the ACTUAL world would rarely lead to any of these options being exercised in any given circumstance, and would never happen in this particular instance:

      1. An Order-in-Council is not that easy to get drafted, approved and passed, and the general practice is to give Overseas Territories an opportunity to contribute in that process due to prevailing sensibilities in the UK about being perceived as dictating to the OTs; since the Suez Crisis, that has been a very unpalatable option for the UK Government for various reasons, not least the internal politics of the UK where a diktat to an OT would fuel any number of political firestorms that could cost the Conservative Party valuable seats in the upcoming UK General Election. It would be the pushback from all sides that would skupper any such attempt at strong-arming us into agreeing to do something that, incidentally, the UK, the US and other major economic powers have yet to do.

      2. David Cameron is not going to reach out to the US to ask for help in relation to one of the UK’s OTs. It’s an ego thing for the most part (happens with all politicians who don’t want to appear weak in front of the opposition, and–for that matter–their coalition partners the Lib Dems!), but Mr. Cameron’s political surroundings (particularly right now with his comments about the UK’s role in the EU and the UK contemplating a departure from the EU) would make it highly unlikely that Cameron is going to run crying to Obama because Bermuda said no to a suggestion that smacks more of political point-scoring for Cameron’s party than a serious attempt to bring Bermuda to heel. Then, of course, there is the fact that Larry Ellison is a private citizen, and just because Obama calls him (not that Obama would call anyway given the other priorities on his plate more directly connected to the American people) does not mean that Ellison has to listen to him.

      3. I doubt any court in the UK or Europe would, further to a legitimate application, label Bermuda “an imminent threat” to the UK economy (based on evidence, anyway) for any number of reasons, not least being that there are perhaps others out there (ahem… the EU anybody?) that could more readily fit that bill, and even if UK courts were prepared to tar us with such a brush, I would be curious to know what provision of law would give that court power to do so. Now if you want to talk about the UN, through FATF and CFATF, calling us out for transparency etc, “dragging us into court” for not being economically transparent is not really how things are done in that particular arena of law and government.

      I think Bob Richards has the right of this, and I think he should be applauded for showing the most backbone of any of our recent Ministers of Finance (the Cog included!). I think Bermuda and the corporations that are based here walk the line quite well, balancing our need to protect the confidentiality of clients (as required by English Common Law-good point, Bob) with the understanding that we need to do our part to curb international crime and tax evasion. Bob Richards says it best: “If you are a tax evader, a terrorist financier or a fraudster, don’t use Bermuda. We don’t want your business and you are not protected on our shores.” Amen, Bob. Amen.

    • London, England says:

      Miss Akinstall forgot to put ‘London, England’ at the end of the above message for anyone who didn’t notice.

    • Robert says:

      You live in England and therefore very loyal to the crown. The British PM cant do a thing to us with regard to this situation,i dont often agree with bob Richards, but he is spot on this time, well done mr. Richards.

    • David Tavares says:

      Where is the sunshine on transparency? Don’t understand, what are we hiding? I believe we are still part of the UK and our elected officials have sworn allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. If you don’t like it, then have the decency and courage to exercise Bermuda’s right to go to independence, provided of course, you can get a meaningful majority of our voting public to support the UBP/OBA. Didn’t we try this before?

    • Allspice says:


  3. Alvin Williams says:

    Well the truths express by Ms Akinstall is going to shatter some colonial myths about a so-called benevolent mother country that is going to look out for Bermuda’s interests? Britain is going to look out for British interests. That is the way it is; that is how it’s always has been. We in Bermuda need to take our colonial dependency blinders off; We can not have it both ways. I am one Bermudian that has always stated; Bermuda should have had it’s own Boston tea party a long time ago. I liken Bermuda’s financial services to the era of privacy on the high seas. Once upon a time every one engaged in it; including Britain; but the time came that Britain considered that international privacy was no longer in it’s interests and what did it do? It used it’s navy to destroy international privacy; including the free ports it used to operate from. Go down to Jamaica you will see some of those old so-called free ports now tourist attractions. If you think that some of these tax strapped nations won’t move against Bermuda and it’s low tax jurisdiction; you have better consider history and think again.

    • Sky Pilot says:

      more nonsense as usual from AW.

    • Yahoo says:

      You have zero clue what you are talking about.

    • Observer says:

      I’m sure you actually meant “piracy” not “privacy”. You should check your messages before pressing the send button.

  4. I tell you says:

    Bob Richards fired back quickly and thank God for that. Now let’s get on with improving things for everyone. The UK can do the same.

  5. ya fullish says:

    This is classic political gesturing. The reality of the UK ever moving forward on such an agenda is slim. After all, how many times do we hear during every US presidetial election (including prelim rounds) about closing the tax loop hole and shaming those companies utilising for capital gain.

    Bob was right to rebut the way he did. Honestly, this form of policy on Cameron’s behalf makes little sense. Things must be quiet in his office for a change.

  6. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    I think that Mr Richards needs to leave his ego at the door.

    Next year May is the general elections in Great Britain and, two issues place very high on their national political agenda, immigration (the influx of EU workers who take British jobs (and you thought Bermudians are unique in our displeasure of this policy. Oh, but strangely, no-one attempts to label the British – xenophobic – on immigration)and tax invasion and/or avoidance.

    Whereas in the US may use the tax issue as a political ploy during their election periods, the British and essentially the Conservative Government, would like to regain power without being a coalition government. Their economy has rebound but based upon a very recent poll by YouGov, the majority do not foresee a brighter future. In a nutshell, it is imperative that the government deliver on issues of national importance to the British.

    An example, the British entertainers who have used tax shelter schemes to shield their wealth and who now have been named and shamed by the HMRC are forced to pay up with penalties and interest. In fact, one noted highly successful entertainer, Gary Barlow, came under so much criticism that the public wanted him stripped of his OBE and started a petition to do just that, David Cameron had to intercede. Pointedly put, the British public take paying their fair share of taxes very seriously and, there should not be a two tier system, one for the privileged and one for everyone else.

    I have stated the above as a prelude to point out that the British public want this issue dealt with, the media keep a razor-sharpe vigilance for movements, updates, new legislation and/or anything that will affect the public sentiment. There are think tanks that have devoted significant time and energy to this issue, and they keep the MPs abreast of just how to make in-roads into clawing back their taxes from tax havens and/or tax avoidance schemes. Succinctly put, it is just a matter of time.

    But when Richards makes egocentric statements that irk the Conservatives and bring about negative headlines, it impresses no-one here. In fact, if Cameron were to take a swipe at Richards the entire Bermuda will feels his effects.

    So please Bob Richards, if you cannot be diplomatic, find some-one who opposes that skill and let her/him champion this cause.

    London, England

    • Sun says:

      I love how you end your messages “London, England”. Why are you commenting on stories that have nothing to do with you. You do not live in Bermuda. You do not work here. You do not add to the economy or the community.

      Do you fly back to vote?

      Stay in England

      • Strike fund says:

        To be fair, if she’s living in England then the story has a lot to do with her considering it is about the UK PM.

      • Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

        Bob Richards speech was made in London, England, before the Bermuda Society.

        His notably response to our ‘tax haven’ reputation and the requests made by the countries of, the US, the UK and Canada.

        You need to debate objectively, not subjectively.

        London, England

    • MIsterMan311 says:

      Again (and see my comment above to your previous post), you over estimate Cameron’s position here. Bob has responded in a measured way with appropriately reasonable language. Bermuda has every right to push back on these purely political statements, and I really do believe that we should not simply be cowed by the bigger economies simply because they’re bigger than us. Cameron, Obama and anyone else who wants to criticise our practices should get their house in order before calling the kettle black.

      • Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

        First, my name is Valirie, not Valerie.

        Second, re-read my comments. Think of David Cameron’s options, where in my post did I claim that he would exercise these options? Please read to understand how a writer is positioning their comments.

        Third, what ramblings about law school? Why do Bermudians posts seek to be personal rather than focus on the issues? If you are cowardly enough to personally attack, then pen your NAME, or respectfully, keep quiet.

        Fourth, what law school did you go to that taught you that an Order-in-Council requires the approval and to be passed (I assume you mean by the British Parliament)?

        An Order-in-Council requires that the PM and two other members of Cabinet confer, agree and issue the Order. Parliament is not needed, that is why it is called an Order-in-Council. An example, the Prime Minister, The Foreign Secretary and the Exchequer can legally issue an Order regarding Bermuda without placing it before the British Parliament.

        You are posturing about the Conservative Government’s position in the next general election as it relates to Bermuda. Their objective is to win the next election, but Bermuda could cost them valuable seats? Not unless Bermuda is UKIP (if you truly understand the UK political landscape right now, then you will understand the political threat of UKIP to the next UK general election). Notably, the power and flexibility of UKIP, Bermuda has not.

        Fifth, I totally reject your sense and level of reasoning in your paragraph 2. You and I know not what political leaders will do because we are not privy to their most urgent domestic agendas.

        Sixth, do you understand how much money has been recovered by HMRC from tax avoider and evaders? Over one billion pounds and counting, that is very significant when your country is fighting the threat of terrorism, with the urgency of over two thousand British men who have enrolled to fight with IS, and to inject money back into the UK economy. Clawing back the taxes owed to the British treasury is a vital component of their domestic strategy.

        Finally, I find the name – the Cog – offensive. Why? You speak disparagingly but when you read Richards speech,(there may not have been money in the coffers when the OBA took over the government), but the fundamentals of a strong economic foundation and platform were left firmly in place.

        So, please do not BS yourselves and the Bermuda public, because without taking off his hat to praise her, the tracks that were laid and quoted in his speech were firmly laid by Paula Cox.

        Do you want some-one to spell it out to you brick by brick from his speech?

        It’s now time dispense with the propaganda and scare-mongering, Bob Richards is building on her fiscal legacy.

        And that is where the egos of the OBA have damaged Bermuda, you abuse your position in government to scare-monger and demonise the PLP, your bloggers write toxic banter on blogs that prevents anyone from asking legitimate questions on public policy and then you come overseas to promote Bermuda as an island without ills but flourishing to the hilt.

        Can you tell me that Bob Richards was able to go into the financial international market and secure sovereign bonds because the PLP destroyed Bermuda? Why would they take the gamble if Bermuda could not get back on its feet? Or conversely, are you saying that Bob Richards has done nothing more than gambled off our future because we have no fundamentals in place?

        How can Bermuda have a new airport terminal built without shelling out money if the financial fundamentals are not strong?

        And the Americas Cup, did Dr Grant Gibbons tell Larry Ellison how broke we are? Or did he give him a very glowing picture of our economy? Moreover, if we did not have the fundamentals in place, Larry Ellison’s yacht would be passing in the night.

        So, before all you OBA politician and supporters pat yourselves on the head and get swell-headed, be humble enough to recognise that they (PLP)left you with a secure financial foundation to build on. And even if you refuse to acknowledge that, how would Bermuda get on its feet this quickly had it been destroyed by the PLP?

        Now to the one or two OBA supporter[s] who spends the time and energy with their finger on the like button, give yourself a break. It is a documented fact that no website can know for certain whether the like/dislike polls are genuine as there are no security features to accurately record one vote, one person on the blogs.

        And to London, England…that’s what you note, your sarcasm goes right over my head. So this is your contribution to the debate? Oh, well let me not disappoint you…A clear example of not being able to debate objectively but rather subjective stabs.

        London, England

    • Robert says:

      Shut up valirie !!!

      • Impressive says:

        Is that really necessary????

        • MisterMan311 says:

          No it’s not. Just ignorant. @Robert, maybe you should consider your own advice.

    • Varied says:

      by ‘opposes’, do you mean ‘possesses’?

    • jt says:

      I’m uncertain as to what is unreasonable or undiplomatic about Bob Richard’s response.

  7. Coffee says:

    …… And just who is Bob Richards again?

    • swing voter says:

      Uncle Bob will lead us to prosperity….again

      • Coffee says:

        So now he’s Uncle Bob …

        • Impressive says:

          lol,, yeah.. for now, as long as he continues to do their work

      • He'll continue ... says:

        Uncle Bob will continue working on getting us out of the hole the PLP left us in.

  8. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    That is a question that only you can answer because as much as you do not like my comments, the trump cards rests with the UK.

    But it is amusing to read the Clint Eastwood type mentality in Bermuda.

    London, England

    • Truth is killin' me... says:

      Valirie…it is wise to be quiet and thought a fool instead of opening your mouth and be seen a fool!

      • Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

        And I risk that opinion from you?

        The truth may be killing you, but you are not even truthful enough to reveal your real name.

        I guess you can hide behind an alias and still be thought of as fool. The door swings both ways.

  9. MIsterMan311 says:

    Clint Eastwood-style mentalities? Your comment implies recklessness, which I find insulting; I was born and raised in Bermuda, I still live here and contribute to its economy and society, and I do not think that we should be pushed around simply because it is convenient to the pusher. Just because we are a tiny dot on the map does not mean we have to be submissive or weak on the global stage. We have just as much a responsibility to our citizens as any other jurisdiction to ensure we have a voice in the big wide world and that it is heard.

    • Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

      First, debate with logic not emotion, just a suggestion.

      Clint Eastwood implies ‘recklessness’ to you.

      He implies fearless ‘risky’ leadership to me.

      London, England

  10. Devonshire Bermudian says:

    As a Bermudian resident I pay NO dividend tax on the shares I hold in the UK unlike their residents; so as far as I am concerned the UK is a TAX FREE entity.

  11. Boarders says:

    So if the the British have all the trump cards why haven’t the use them yet? Cuz Cameron and the rest of his ‘allies’ have money stored offshore! And u guessed it right here in Bermuda!

  12. Alvin Williams says:

    Clint Eastman type mentality in Bermuda; good description for it perhaps; but that is movies after all and soon enough this movie will end and as we all know at the end of the movie; all the pop-corn and candy is gone.

  13. Ringmaster says:

    Alvin, it is Eastwood, not Eastman, and the popcorn and candy was what the PLP gave out between 1998 and 2012 and cost Bermuda over $2 billion dollars. Bermuda’s great grandchildren will still be paying for it, and getting nothing back.

  14. Puma says:

    And yet………………….and yet….we have signed allllll sorts of tias….well…this information is certainly out there to be had…is this not Bristol fashion?

  15. Alvin Williams says:

    Well If the PLP gave away 2 billion dollars over the course of 12 years; this government is not far behind since it is willing to give away a billion dollars and more over 30 years; just to built a national airport.
    I wonder what it’s herd mentality political supporters will have to say about that?

    • Ringmaster says:

      The new “Hospital” (built as a PPP like the proposed new airport), which is actually an acute care wing not a hospital, has cost $400 million (at least in public). Who’s idea was this, and guess who will pay for this? Clue, it’s not the rest of the world. I’m not saying I agree with the cost of the airport, but let’s get things into perspective here. By the way, “it’s” means it is, not possessive of “it”. A common mistake.

  16. red eye says:

    No sir u had a surplus of money in 1998 and within a 14 year period 2 billion dollar debt! The OBA started with NOTHING! Just a lil facts u choose not to put in place! STOP listening to that propaganda ‘sound bite’ thats on everyday!