Premier hopeful over tax agreement
Premier Craig Cannonier is optimistic that Bermuda’s concerns over a new tax treaty to combat tax evasion will be addressed by end of business today.
But as Bermuda prepares to host a meeting with other Overseas Territories, Mr Cannonier remains guarded about actually signing on to the Multilateral Convention Agreement before leaving London.
“We support this in principle. We have a few concerns about cost, a few concerns about exactly how its going to work, concerns about treaty duplication and security of data,” Mr Cannonier told
The Royal Gazette.
“We’ve gotten some answers to these questions.”
The Premier is in the UK with other Overseas Territories leaders this week at the request of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who wants the territories to sign on to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, ahead of a G8 summit of the world’s richest nations this weekend. The agreement would bind the signatories to share financial and tax information with other jurisdictions and keep a register of beneficial ownership of companies domiciled in the various territories.
Mr Cannonier spoke to
The Royal Gazette shortly before heading into a meeting with leaders of other OTs.
He said: “When it comes to transparency and beneficial ownership, we (Bermuda) are already there,” he said. But other territories were “at different points”.
The Premier said he had convened the meeting with the OTs to share concerns ahead of a meeting with UK Prime Minister David Cameron today.
“There is nothing in the agenda that says there is an expectation to sign this multilateral agreement,” said the Premier. But he agreed that Mr Cameron was clearly looking for a positive consensus among the OTs about signing on.
“With something like this — such a substantial document — you don’t come to a conclusion immediately. You have to be sure that it doesn’t interfere with the financial model Bermuda has. And that’s what we’re doing.
“But we’re in a good space, and tomorrow will be even more telling.”
He said: “We still have questions as to where its going from here. My cause right now is to ensure Bermuda is heard.”
Bermuda’s model is more similar to Malta, Isle of Man and Guernsey than some of the Caribbean Overseas Territories, the Premier said.
Finance Minister Bob Richards and a team of civil servants headed out to London last night.
“Based on our discussions, it’s possible that we may have that agreement signed by today, but again we agreed to it in principle. But just need some details sorted out. And I’m confident they will be.”