Bermuda Upsets Hopes for Anti-tax Evasion Convention

Bermuda’s premier said that the island will not commit to a convention on fighting tax evasion ahead of next week’s summit of the Group of Eight (G8) leading economies. His comments were seen as undermining UK prime minister David Cameron’s attempts to secure agreement from all Britain’s offshore centres in the run-up to the meeting in Northern Ireland.

However, Craig Cannonier said that Bermuda needed clarification of some key points before signing up to the multilateral convention on mutual tax assistance, a treaty to pave the way for talks on helping authorities, particularly in developing countries, track down tax avoiders. “There are stumbling blocks,” he said.

The three UK Crown Dependencies of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, as well as the Cayman Islands, have already committed to join the convention, while the British Virgin Islands has agreed in principle. However, Cameron risks embarrassment if all the Overseas Territories do not sign the treaty, having raised the stakes by his public call to “get our own houses in order” before the G8 summit.

Bermuda has indicated that it supports the multilateral convention in principle, but according to  reports it has several concerns, including issues around costs, security of data and a possible linkage to Cameron’s aspiration for public registers of ‘beneficial ownership’, describing the true ownership of companies.

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