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Abir cheers delisting, highlights EU links

A body representing Bermuda's leading international re/insurers welcomed the island's removal from the European Union tax blacklist and pointed out the depth of the industry's relationship with Europe.

The Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers said the island had a commitment to facilitate tax transparency and compliance with global standards.

Abir also gave details on its members' thousands of EU-based employees and tens of billions paid out in claims to European policyholders.

EU finance ministers unanimously decided to remove Bermuda from Annex I of the EU list of noncooperative jurisdictions in tax matters at a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council in Brussels on Friday.

Albert Benchimol, chief executive officer of Axis Capital and chairman of Abir, praised the efforts of David Burt, the Premier, Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, and Jeremy Cox, chairman of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, in ensuring Bermuda's rapid removal from the list the island was added to just two months ago.

Mr Benchimol added that Bermuda's Economic Substance Act of 2018 further aligns Bermuda's statutory and regulatory framework with both prevailing, world-class business practices and emerging global standards.

“As the global centre of risk transfer, Abir believes Bermuda's international business sector meets or exceeds worldwide requirements,” Mr Benchimol said.

“We applaud the Government's legislative reform package which further enhances that framework, and its commitment to ensuring clients and markets worldwide continue to benefit from Bermuda's critical financial capacity and leading risk management expertise.”

Abir detailed its impact on the Bermudian economy, highlighting its economic substance credentials. In 2017, Abir members aggregate direct economic impact to the Bermuda economy was $842.6 million, including travel, business, charity giving, construction expenses and compensation paid to Bermudian-based employees.

Similar economic contributions from companies in “relevant activities” specified in the ESA has potential to greatly enhance Bermuda's economy, the statement added.

Abir said its member re/insurers operate in 20 EU countries, with a total of 15,865 employees in the region. The top five jurisdictions with the most employees included the UK, with 9,762; France, with 1,148; Ireland, with 1,123; Germany, with 814; and Poland, with 453. Abir members also had 1,011 staff in Switzerland.

“The European Union is a very important market for Bermuda re/insurers, and our members continue to take on increasing amounts of risk in EU member states,” John Huff, chief executive officer of Abir, said.

“The Bermuda market has paid $72.8 billion to European Union policyholders and cedents during the past 20 years. Our member companies remain strongly committed to the European market, European ceding companies, and European policyholders.”

“Abir looks forward to continuing to work with the Bermuda Monetary Authority and the Bermuda Government on the Economic Substance Act regulatory guidance to ensure efficient and fair implementation of the standards and to avoid any duplicative regulation while supporting the Bermuda economy”, Mr Huff said.

“Abir's members are good corporate citizens in Bermuda and in the worldwide markets they serve and are prepared to continue to address the world's critical risk needs.”

Reasons to smile: Curtis Dickinson, left, the finance minister, with Albert Benchimol, chairman of Abir (Photograph supplied)

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Published May 20, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 20, 2019 at 9:12 am)

Abir cheers delisting, highlights EU links

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