Video: Minister Richards On EU Blacklist Threat

June 22, 2017

The EU Blacklist Group sent the Government a questionnaire about the way Bermuda conducts its business internationally, an the “questionnaire is designed to lead to a predetermined conclusion that Bermuda is a tax haven that is harmful to the global economy, and the EU in particular, and therefore should be placed on an economic blacklist,” Minister of Finance Bob Richards said today.

Speaking press conference this afternoon, Minister Richards said, “In recent years, Bermuda has had to face down outside forces that threaten to dismantle the way we do business with the rest of the world.

“These forces have repeatedly targeted Bermuda and other small jurisdictions, using us as scapegoats to further domestic political objectives even when the tools are available to them to change their own jurisdictional laws.

“The threats have come primarily from high tax, developed countries, aided and abetted by certain members of the press that have provided the microphones and the headlines without questioning the misleading nature of these attacks.

Bob Richards Bermuda June 22 2017

“Each time we have succeeded in turning back the threats, but such is the nature of these outside forces that they re-form and come back at us time and time again.

“It takes a great deal of time and effort to fend off these threats and to re-explain Bermuda’s constructive role in the global economy.

“But all it takes is one failure on our part for Bermuda to suffer serious damage on the world stage to our reputation, our integrity and our ability to conduct business.

“The stakes for Bermudians could not be greater. Anything that compromises our ability to conduct business with the rest of the world will likely lead to job and income losses for thousands as well as loss of revenues that enable government to provide social services to our people in need.

“The threat to Bermuda’s economy is existential, meaning that our very existence as a bustling economy supporting Bermudian life is endangered.

The 16-minute live video replay is below:

“I say that because our economy depends on international business. If it goes down, we all go down.

“The latest threat to Bermuda arrived on Friday June 9th in the form of an email to the Government from the Code of Conduct Group within the bureaucracy of the European Union in Brussels.

“Bermudians should regard this Code of Conduct Group as the “EU Blacklist Group”. The email contained a questionnaire about the way Bermuda conducts its business internationally.

“The deadline for our response is July 7th. If we do not answer the questionnaire we will be deemed to be “non-compliant.”

“The questionnaire is designed to lead to a predetermined conclusion that Bermuda is a tax haven that is harmful to the global economy, and the EU in particular, and therefore should be placed on an economic blacklist.

“This, despite the fact that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] and the Financial Action Task Force to combat money laundering [FATF] have concluded that Bermuda is not “harmful” in its conduct or in the application of its laws in the global economy.

“The first attempt by the Code of Conduct Group to blacklist Bermuda in 2015 was thoroughly repudiated by the OECD and was dropped. But this latest attempt has been more cleverly constructed and poses a much greater threat.

“We believe it constitutes a clear and present danger to our international business sector.

“Bermuda has spent a great deal of time and money adjusting our laws, regulations and business practices to stay ahead of, or on the leading edge of, the curve as it relates to international taxation and information sharing.

“We have been early adopters of all the initiatives coming out of agencies that set international standards. Yet there are those out there that choose, for their own reasons, to ignore our record.

“This outside threat represents a viewpoint held by certain officials in Brussels that because Bermuda does not have corporate income taxes, we are destructive to their own tax regimes.

“However, this narrative is totally false. Bermuda does not hide beneficial ownership from tax, regulatory or law enforcement entities; Bermuda does not create structures designed to obscure where income is earned; Bermuda is not the jurisdiction of choice for hundreds of thousands of multinationals seeking to create shell corporations – other jurisdictions are. But scapegoating Bermuda plays well in some European countries for political reasons. It also assumes that Bermuda is weak and defenseless.

“We are not. We will fight this unjust attack on the livelihoods of thousands of Bermudians employed in the financial services business or those who depend indirectly on that sector for support. We will fight to preserve our sovereign right to determine tax policy for Bermudian companies.

“We will show and prove, once again, that our business model is beneficial to the world economy. Unfortunately, we will not be able to rely on support from our traditional friends in the United Kingdom as Brexit has reduced their influence in Brussels considerably.

“Like a previous temporary blacklisting of Bermuda in 2013, the blacklisting of Bermuda today could entail severe economic penalties and/or restrictions on trade and the flow of funds.

“The damage to our hard-earned global reputation could be sufficiently severe as to threaten the viability of our global insurance/reinsurance business.

“That sector carries out very significant business in Europe, having paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in claims to EU-based policyholders over the years. This blacklist has the potential to undo all the great work to achieve Solvency II equivalency, which allows Bermuda-based insurance companies to conduct business in EU countries on an equal footing.

“The Government will therefore aggressively defend Bermuda. We will do so with the support of our private sector partners and our overseas-based friends with whom we work.

“We are pulling together all the resources necessary to beat back this latest threat. This includes the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers [ABIR], the services of a London-based law firm to support our position and Bermudian experts within the Civil Service and Bermuda’s regulatory bodies.

“Our first priority is to answer the questionnaire clearly and logically. If there are biases in the questions we will point them out and propose alternatives that demonstrate our role in cooperation, transparency and reporting.

“With the questionnaire submitted by the deadline date, we will follow with a campaign enlisting the support of our contacts within the EU and elsewhere that we have built up in recent years.

“I am confident we will prevail.

“We have worked long and hard to establish our reputation as a jurisdiction with integrity and the highest standards of transparency and best practices.

“We will fight to protect our reputation and the livelihoods of thousands of Bermudians who rely on that reputation for their livelihoods.”

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Comments (31)

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  1. lifetime says:

    OBA are very desperate! As the saying goes desperate times call for desperate measures. Unfortunately we will be seeing more of this in the coming weeks. Make up a fake threat to cast doubt in people’s minds. This has been the mantra of the wealthy since the beginning of time. The party is over Uncle Fuzzy and friends.

    • Positive Pessimist says:

      Yup, Fearmongering 101.

    • Frosty says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Also, when asked if he would consult the opposition and he said no, “It’s a government matter” just proves that his intentions are purely selfish and political. He would rather let the opposition (if elected) not have the information and destroy the country, than let go of his arrogant, self-centered ego.

    • Hmm says:

      You are dillusional to think this is an election stunt. Jimmy Hoffa Elvis and JFK are dead. They did land on the moon. Americas cup is beneficial to Bermuda. World is round and aliens don’t live among us just incase these items also confuse you. Also by your comments you are admitting you don’t think PLP can handle it.

    • BDAlongtail says:

      This is not a fake threat. The EU’s plans to create a blacklist of tax havens is very real and has been in the news since 2016, the focus being on countries which facilitate offshore structures by having zero or low corporate tax (i.e. Bermuda).

      If you think this is not a real threat to our economy you are dreaming.

    • uiq says:

      “Fake threats”: EU commissioners, tax lawyers, and assorted bureaucrats disconnected from local Bermuda politics

      Real threats: “the wealthy,” Bob Richards, “Two Bermudas”, Bigfoot, Forty Thieves

  2. NCM says:

    One thing is for sure, I would rather have Bob handling this than anyone from the Opposition. In Bob we trust.

    • Madge says:

      My Lord, to think that Burt,would be in charge of the finances of Bermuda….is so scary !!! People pay attention…

      • Something soundz Fuzzy.

      • aceboy says:

        The Chairman of the PAC is the shadow finance minister. That means Wayne Furbert could be potentially nehociating on behalf of Bermuda. This is the same guy who flubbed the prizegiving speech at the last Grand Slam. Lord help us.

    • Easter Lily Onion says:

      Sadly, you could not be more dead wrong. Mr. Double the Debt with no sign of the two thousand promised jobs should be grateful that he is about to lose his – that way he can blame the next guy tasked with cleaning up this mess he has only managed to make bigger, presumably Mr. Burt. No coincidence either that he weighs in with this EU situation at election time – but his belligerence does not bode well for a successful outcome.

      • Defense says:

        Haha….started making the excuses for Burt already….

  3. Clouds on the Horizon says:

    Oh snap! Better leave this one to Burt, Hayward, Furbet and Tweed to handle. Way beyond Bob’s pay grade.

    • Lol!!!! says:

      Lol you lot.

      And if you believe that the PLP roster could have an impact in relationto this issue or external economic pressures then Do I have a deal for you!!

      Wake up Bermud this is About our future and not self inflated egos

      Our kids deserve a decent future.

      Blessings abound.

  4. Positive Pessimist says:

    This all seems mighty convenient. “Oh, no-what shall we do? Only the mighty OBA can protect us from the evil EU Blacklist Group. Give me a break!

    • bee says:

      the PLP can hardly open an envelope. they would be less than effective at international negotiations.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Military bases cleanup , Longbird Bridge and Morgan’s Point development discussions come to mind .

  5. Coffee says:

    Where did the OBA go wrong to warrant this type of heightened scrutiny ?

    As Marley sang ,” They must have done something wrong .”

    See , Paula had a hat for that !

    Bob didn’t see this coming ? Did his crystal ball all of a sudden break in 2012 ?

    • Hmm says:

      Stop drawing at straws.

    • Is de hood still up?
      LMAO

    • BDAlongtail says:

      The EU sent the same letter to 91 other countries so the OBA didn’t do anything “wrong”. The EU’s plan to have a black list of tax havens is very real and has been in the news since 2016….

      Perhaps people should do a simple google search before commenting. Knowledge is after all power!

      • bee says:

        knowledge isn’t even in the PLP’s wheelhouse! they run around with tittle tattle, rumour and ineuendo. THEY are the ones that create a “two Bda”. just look at thier beleivers! not very multi-cultural.

  6. Who do you “think” you are?????!

  7. aceboy says:

    The brilliance of Burt will save us. He knows best.

  8. 2025 plan says:

    I’m sure its in the PLP 2025 plan. Along with the jobs there going to create, and how they pay the country debt off without having to burrow money, as the OBA did.

    • aceboy says:

      they’re

      borrow

      I suspect you ability to read is as bad as your ability to write. It is NOT in there at all. There is nothing concrete in the 2025 plan, nothing at all. How easily you can be fooled.

  9. Additional Contract says:

    OK if the OBA win, then just give him or his consulting firm the contract to negotiate with the OECD and all will be well

  10. Truth says:

    The EU is a hypocrite, and they know full well, which only proves they are acting in criminal interests. Why do I say this and how do I prove it in a few sentences? Simple. Look at the famous Swiss Bank system. How many international criminals have their billions stored there, where their private information can be eternally kept secret from the world? And the EU supports and allows this to take place. That system is perhaps the largest contributor on this planet of illegal money laundering and holding. Billions move in and out weekly for criminal purposes, they have been exposed for this before…..

  11. LOL (Original TM*) says:

    If either party wants my vote here is my wish list:
    1 work permits need to increase by 250 to 300% more than they are now ( as stats show only non Bermudian jobs up)

    2 entry level to mid management should be 85 to 90% Bermudian (this would help crime stats to come down too)

    LOL, Looking for politicians who have Bermudians best interests at hard and not their own. Just look at who this current crop employs.

  12. Easter Lily Onion says:

    Thank goodness we’ve got Bob, the only person who could possibly save the situation, absolutely nobody else is capable, because of course this isn’t about the EU at all but all about Bob.

  13. Shutthemdown says:

    We are for sure are a tax haven.it’s the old lipstick on a pig thing. Still a pig bro.

    Bermuda should get back and focus on tourism. That is where we can stand out.

    Lots of jobs in the hotels that Bermudian’s need to take back. So many ppl come here unskilled.

    The hotels need to be made to employ Bermudian ppl first. They train the foreign workers so they can train the Bermudian’s .