Bermuda’s deputy premier calls UK a ‘tax haven’ amid offshore financial secrecy row

The deputy premier of Bermuda has hit out against British MPs’ attempt to force offshore companies to name their owners and plans end offshore financial secrecy, claiming that the UK itself is a “tax haven”.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s meeting between UK prime minister Theresa May and the leaders of Britain’s overseas territories, Bermuda’s deputy premier and finance minister, Bob Richards, hit out against proposed legislation that would create public registers naming the owners of offshore companies.

According to a report in UK newspaper The Guardian Richards claimed that the UK “is a tax haven,” and should get its own house in order before making demands from its dependencies, citing non-dom laws that allow foreign nationals to live in Britain without paying tax on overseas income.

“You have more billionaires resident in London than any place on earth. They are not here for the weather, they are here for the tax climate.

‘Double standard’

“We have a double standard going on here,” he said.

Bermuda deputy premier’s outburst comes at the same time as a report has highlighted that the amount of global investment flowing through tax havens has risen by US$700bn in two years.

According to reports on global finance website Public Finance International the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) evaluation of data from the International Monetary Fund has highlighted a 5% increase in investment moving through tax havens between 2013 and 2015, from US$11.8trn to US$12.5trn.

The analysis published through ActionAid, an international charity working in over 45 countries, said that the growth was “notable” because in 2013, G8 leaders signalled a renewed commitment to crack down on tax evasion and avoidance, in particular large companies that secreted their profits in tax havens.

ActionAid published its analysis to coincide with the meeting between the UK PM and the leaders of Britain’s overseas territories in London on Wednesday, pointing that corporate investment in 2015, saw US$1.1trn moving through the British Virgin Islands US$710bn through Bermuda and US$568bn through the Cayman Islands.

Transparency

The UK has come under pressure in recent years to bring its overseas territories and crown dependencies in line with international best practice on transparency. Campaigners have called for measures to ensure these jurisdictions aren’t used for tax dodging.

However, from April 2017, as reported, non-doms will lose some of their advantages and foreign nationals will no longer be able to enjoy tax breaks indefinitely in the UK. Those resident in the UK for 15 out of the previous 20 years will be liable for inheritance, capital gains and income tax on their worldwide assets.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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