Dunkley: We will keep our reputation intact
Michael Dunkley has vowed to “do what is required to keep our solid reputation intact”, if the beneficial ownership issue raises its head during his London trip.
The Premier arrived in the British capital on Monday for a three-day visit to take part in Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meetings.
“We started with sessions on climate change and the environment, health, seniors and pensions,” he told The Royal Gazette, adding that today's sessions would involve child safeguarding and economic development.
“I'm sure beneficial ownership will come up there,” added Mr Dunkley, referring to the debate sparked this year by Ed Miliband, then Leader of the British Opposition, who threatened that a Labour administration would brand the Island a tax haven unless Bermuda published a list of the beneficial owners of offshore firms.
“The UK is very focused on the topic because we've been a leader in that area for some many years and the UK is basically trying to play catch-up with us as far as their register goes,” he said.
“Ours works well. There's never been an access for information that's been denied, so that issue is one that we have to continue to talk about, because people just don't understand.”
Joining the Premier of Bermuda on the visit are senior figures from nine other Overseas Territories, including Gibraltar, Cayman Islands and Anguilla.
“The OTs are all willing to share information and that has put us in a good position going forward,” Mr Dunkley said.
“It's a pretty tight-knit group. We share some of the same challenges, but we also bring some unique perspectives to the table as well.”
Mr Dunkley said that his trip, which featured a Soho reception on Monday for students and young Bermudians residing in London, was “non-stop” but would be “very productive for us in the short- and long-term”.
He also said that promoting Bermuda as a tourist destination would remain a priority for himself and the Deputy Premier, Bob Richards.
“We are continually reaching out to the media,” said Mr Dunkley, adding that the pair would be meeting with Bill Hanbury, the chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, tomorrow morning for a media breakfast to discuss the matter.
“We're keen to talk about tourism,” he added. “There's a great deal of opportunity to increase the passenger count coming from Europe to our paradise in the ocean.”