Bermuda would assist Chinese requests for information under joint TIEA Finance Minister
Finance Minister Bob Richards responded to recent news stories about beneficial ownership information that was last year hacked from two of the BVI’s incorporation agencies, in a press release to media.
It stated that Minister Richards has noted numerous international news agency articles circulating this week regarding Chinese persons related to the BVI incorporation agencies data has raised questions about small island international financial centres, some stories specifically linking Chinese citizens to Bermuda companies.
Quoting Mr Richards: “Bermuda has no client secrecy provision that can withstand a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) request. My powers eliminate any attempt to withhold information I seek under the provision of TIEAs. Bermuda Ministers of Finance were among the first to eliminate any attempts at secrecy. We obtained this TIEA power decades ago by signing one of the earliest TIEAs, the 1986 tax treaty with the United States of America.”
The release noted that Bermuda is a vice chair of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, and that Bermuda is also a member of the Global Forum’s Peer Review Group and an active participant at FATF meetings. “Most importantly, the recent OECD TIEA request compliance ratings of over 50 countries rates Bermuda with the rating of Largely Compliant, the same rating as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America and many other G8 countries.”
Mr Richards added: “Today Bermuda has 41 signed bilateral TIEAs, including one signed with China in December 2012, and we have over 60 multilateral TIEA partners through Bermuda’s recent adoption of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters. Our TIEA network is global. Any country that has cause to seek information from Bermuda under the provisions of any of our TIEAs we are pleased to assist them to the fullest.”
The press release said that Mr Richards: “ ... emphasised that Bermuda’s TIEAs combined with Bermuda’s unique long established Government held central registry on beneficial ownership is a strong deterrent against money laundering and tax evasion. The Minister said: “Our Government-held central registry on beneficial ownership has existed since the 1940s. Bermuda’s commitment to assist the international community to discourage money laundering and tax evasion is well established.”
Compliance ratings are at: http://www.oecd.org/tax/transparency/global_forum_ratings.pdf