Richards: Solvency II sets Bermuda apart
Reaching Solvency II equivalence with the European Union is a badge of honour for Bermuda that other offshore jurisdictions are unlikely to achieve.
That view was expressed by Bob Richards, the finance minister, during an interview at the Risk and Insurance Management Society conference in San Diego, California, this week.
“It establishes Bermuda as a major world class player in the reinsurance industry. It shows that we have arrived. It's like a badge of honour,” said Mr Richards during an interview with Am Best TV's Meg Green [scroll down to watch video].
“We are confident that no other offshore jurisdiction is ever going to get Solvency II equivalence. We feel that the struggles and efforts that have been made by various people in this government and the Bermuda Monetary Authority and our industry partners — all these efforts have been worth it for us.”
Last month Bermuda secured Solvency II equivalence with the EU recognising that the island's insurance regulation is at the same level as its own new and enhanced insurance rules.
Another topic that arose during the interview was the global controversy swirling around the leaking of 11.5 million documents from a law firm in Panama, showing offshore financial dealings of, among others, wealthy individuals and politicians.
Mr Richards said Bermuda was working hard to differentiate itself from other offshore financial centres.
Noting the island started its “odyssey” with international business in the late 1940s, he said: “Bermuda took the decision from the start that we were not just going to do business with anyone, we were going to screen people we did business with.”
He said the island did not want to do business with nefarious characters, criminals or tax evaders.
“Bermuda is a low tax jurisdiction, but we do not want people who are breaking laws. We have an institutionalised system in Bermuda to screen those people out, and we've had that since the 1940s.”
He said Bermuda was different from other offshore centres, and was proud to be different.
“We are a quality offshore financial centre. If we had a bad reputation we would never have got Solvency II equivalence.
Michael Dunkley, the Premier, and Grant Gibbons, the economic development minister, were also interviewed by AM Best TV.
Mr Gibbons, speaking about how Bermuda is different from other jurisdictions, said: “It's the physical presence companies that add the most to our economy. Simply adding lots of shell companies is not part of our business model. That differentiates us a little bit.”
While Mr Dunkley, referring to the Panama Papers controversy, said: “I look at it as unique opportunity to get some press and talk about what we do. We are proud of our record over many many years. We can talk about how we built it and how we maintained it. We are proud of what we have done about Bermuda.”
The Bermuda Government delegation met with Rims president Julie Pemberton and Mary Roth, Rims CEO, who will travel to the island in September for the biennial Alarys Congress event.
The island was represented at Rims by about 200 individuals, including government officials and representatives of the BMA, Bermuda Business Development Agency, Bermuda Tourism Authority and business people.
There were more than 10,000 attendees at the four-day event, one of the most significant annual gatherings for the insurance and reinsurance industry.
Click image below to watch video interview featuring Bob Richards, Grant Gibbons and Michael Dunkley