Market leading insight for tax experts
View online issue

Bermuda will adopt public benefit register ‘when UK and US do’

printer Mail

Bermuda’s deputy premier and minister of finance, the Hon. E.T. Richards, has announced that Bermuda will reserve any commitment to uphold a UK model of beneficial ownership prior to international policy development in this arena; and that the territory ‘will wait until the UK, US and Canada adopt public beneficial ownership registers’. Following his recent visit to London, minister Richards said: ‘Despite having no hand in creating the OECD tax system, Bermuda has for the last 75 years led the way in terms of transparency, having established a legislative framework requiring that persons wishing to incorporate in Bermuda provide central authorities with information on the proposed beneficial owners of the business. Bermuda signed its first tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) with the United States in 1986 and a TIEA with the UK in 2007. 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.’

Joseph Stead, senior economic justice adviser at Christian Aid, criticised Bermuda’s stance, saying: ‘Over the last year, so little has changed that it is hard to believe British overseas territories were genuine in their commitment to consider public registers of who owns companies. In April, the prime minister reminded them that “the rest of the world is watching” but they seem to be stalling in the hope that their promises will be forgotten. It’s clear that secretly-owned companies in the overseas territories are used for international corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. The BVI, the Caymans and Bermuda are in the World Bank’s top 20 jurisdictions for cases of grand corruption. They need to be among the first to change.’