Bermuda, Cayman hit back at ‘systematic failure’ claims over Paradise Papers leak

Bermuda’s premier and the head of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange have hit out at allegations of “systematic failure” in the offshore reporting structure, claiming that both jurisdictions follow the rules of the OECD’s new Common Reporting Standard. 

Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight programme, Bermuda’s premier David Burt defended his country’s record, despite claims on BBC’s Panorama last night that it has failed to adhere international tax reporting system rules. The Panorama show cited evidence uncovered by the so-called Paradise Papers data leak.

The main Paradise Papers unveiling, as reported, occurred on Sunday, with some 90 media organisations in 67 countries reporting stories based on a leak of documents stolen from the Bermuda outpost of the Appleby law firm. On 25 October, International Investment was among a handful of media outlets that carried the initial reports of the Appleby data leak.

In his defence of Bermuda, Burt said the British overseas territory has a “robust regulatory regime”, with the same tax system in place since 1898. The UK’s tax laws, he added, allow the use of offshore jurisdictions by UK residents and citizens.

The Cayman Islands Stock Exchange’s chairman, Anthony Travers, pictured left, also speaking on BBC’s Newsnight, aggressively backed Burt’s arguments, stating that offshore jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands and Bermuda have been acting within the confines of the law.

In addition to being the CISE’s chairman, Travers, OBE, is also the former chairman of Cayman Finance. He said: “We advise very major corporations and what tax is paid on is the law.

‘Complete transparency’

“Offshore financial centres have complete transparency to the highest global standards. And [that is], incidentally, infinitely higher than exist in the United States.”

Sir Vince Cable, a British Liberal Democrat politician and a former UK business secretary, criticised the UK government for not clamping down on offshore tax havens trading under the British flag.

He said: “The Paradise Papers suggest that a small number of wealthy individuals have been able, entirely legally, to put their money beyond the reach of the Exchequer.”

Prison calls

Travers said that the Panama Papers was what he called “fake news” and “this new leak from Bermuda is [also] fake news, save for the extent that it is a criminal endeavour to hack people’s computers and the journalists should be in prison”.

“What have we actually had from the Panama Papers in terms of actual convictions in the United Kingdom in terms for anything at all regarding tax avoidance and tax avoidance.

“The answer is nothing. Certainly nothing statistically relevant. It was fake news,” he said.

International Investment recently published an extensive report on the Cayman Islands in its ezine launch edition 15 of International Investment. Click here to view or download.

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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