More links in Paradise Papers revelation
Bermuda's business reputation has come under increased fire as fresh revelations uncovered in the Paradise Papers continue to make headlines across the world.
New reports allege the huge cache of hijacked documents — half of which were hacked from Bermudian-founded firm Appleby — show that Robert Mercer, who helped fund Donald Trump's election win, used Bermuda to avoid US taxes and that Nike used a Bermudian subsidiary — Nike International Ltd — to shift billions in profits out of the Netherlands between 2005 and 2014.
Yesterday, The Guardian reported the Paradise Papers showed that Prince Charles's private estate has invested millions of pounds in offshore funds and companies, including a Bermudian-registered business run by one of his best friends.
The documents, which include nearly seven million loan agreements, financial statements, e-mails and trust deeds, also reveal that about £10 million of the Queen's private money was invested offshore in 2004-2005 in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
Meanwhile, a BBC Panorama investigation on the Paradise Papers that aired on Sunday and Monday night repeatedly branded Bermuda a “tax haven” and questioned the island's transparency.
The growing storm around the Paradise Papers prompted David Burt to appear on Sky News, Newsnight and the BBC's Today programme early this week to defend the island's reputation.
Mr Burt told the BBC Today programme on Monday: “We have a robust regulatory regime to ensure that money coming into Bermuda is clean.
“That robust regulatory regime has been shown to be effective.”
Appearing on Sky News he added: “The most important thing to know and what your viewers should understand is that Bermuda through its international and global standards reports all activities of UK nationals in Bermuda to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
“You cannot avoid paying taxes by having your money in Bermuda. All information is directly reported to HMRC.”
The Premier told Newsnight: “We know who owns our companies and you cannot come to Bermuda and set up an anonymous company and you cannot come to Bermuda to hide you money because we report all money in Bermuda to international tax authorities.
“The issue at hand here is a question of tax avoidance and you cannot avoid taxes if we are reporting all your financial accounts information to HMRC, which is what we do here in Bermuda.”
Mr Burt's comments came as Panorama's investigation “Britain's Offshore Secrets of the Rich Exposed” was aired in the UK.
The documentary shows investigative reporter Richard Bilton outside the Appleby offices on Victoria Street in Hamilton and contains excerpts of his interview with then finance minister Bob Richards, who dismisses suggestions that Bermuda is a tax haven.
“Bermuda likes to present itself as the acceptable face of offshore,” Mr Bilton says. He continues: “The documents have pulled back the curtain on the offshore world and those who use it. That shady world has been dragged into the light; it is hard to imagine it won't be forced to change.”
On Monday, Appleby reiterated that the firm had done nothing wrong and had been subject to a serious criminal act, and not a data leak.
In a statement, the firm said: “Our systems were accessed by an intruder who deployed the tactics of a professional hacker.
“While there were no allegations of any wrongdoing on the part of Appleby, there were some allegations of perceived failings in our business practice standards.
“Operating in highly regulated jurisdictions, we face an ever-increasing level of compliance obligations. Our overriding objective is to have the procedures and policies to ensure that we have 100 per cent compliance with our obligations.
“This is a major undertaking and Appleby invests significantly in compliance professionals and processes, not only to put in place the requisite procedures and policies but also to review constantly our current practices to see where there can be improvement.
“We wish to apologise to our clients and to our colleagues for the difficulties which have arisen from this incident.”