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Island off tax haven ‘radar’, Premier says

A favourable trip to London by Michael Dunkley has been notable for what did not come up in talks, the Premier said.

“One thing that never came up was the European Union blacklist,” Mr Dunkley said of his meeting with British Cabinet ministers.

In June, the EU's executive commission included Bermuda in a list of jurisdictions that had failed to take sufficient action on tax avoidance.

“That seems to have faded from the radar,” Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette.

He added that he had been “delighted” by the appointment of Sir David Amess to chair the Britain-Bermuda All Party Parliamentary Group.

“With his experience and connections in the House of Parliament, this will work well for Bermuda,” he said.

Also absent from the agenda was the Island's evolving airport terminal deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the subject of repeated concerns raised at home by the Progressive Labour Party.

Mr Dunkley met yesterday with the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, who he said had been “intricately involved” in the letter of entrustment sent to the Island by the British Government on the redevelopment plan.

“There was no real concern over there,” Mr Dunkley said, adding that Mr Hammond was “well aware” of the issues entailed in the proposal.

During a 45-minute talk, the two discussed benefits to the Island to be gained from hosting the America's Cup, as well as “what we are trying to do to turn the economy around and make our Civil Service more effective”.

Mr Dunkley added: “We also discussed an issue that has been prevalent with the UK for some time, which is the matter of the public register for beneficial ownership.

“They understand our position, and acknowledge that we were ahead of them on that.”

A furore on beneficial ownership was sparked this year when Ed Miliband, then Leader of the British Opposition, threatened that a Labour administration would brand the Island a tax haven unless Bermuda published a list of the beneficial owners of offshore firms.

“I look forward to continuing dialogue on our efforts to remain an effective, transparent and well-regulated jurisdiction in all regards,” Mr Dunkley said.

“I was excited to meet with two Cabinet ministers, both very senior. This puts Bermuda in a good position going forward. It has been some time since we have talks with ministers on that level.”

Also part of the discussion was the upcoming Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meetings in November.

As with his previous meetings with British ministers, the Premier presented the Foreign Secretary with a pair of traditional Bermuda shorts and knee socks.

“I also had the run of the media, which is an effective way to keep Bermuda on the map, talking about where we stand in business and tourism,” Mr Dunkley said.

He conducted interviews with BBC Radio 4, BBC Business Live and CNBC UK Closing Bell.

In each instance the topics of discussion included Bermuda's reputation in financial services, with Mr Dunkley providing clarity about Bermuda's tax regime.

It is anticipated the CNBC interview will air today while the BBC interviews will air next month.

Mr Dunkley is accompanied in his London meetings by the Secretary to the Cabinet, Derrick Binns, and the Bermuda Government's London Office director and representative in Britain, Kimberley Durrant.

Michael Dunkley with Philip Hammond, the British Foreign Secretary

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Published August 27, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 27, 2015 at 9:09 am)

Island off tax haven ‘radar’, Premier says

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