HAMILTON, Bermuda, November 9, 2017 (CMC) – Premier David Burt has defended the reputation of this British Overseas territory, following the release of the Paradise Papers – a set of confidential documents, related to offshore investment.
Speaking at a press conference, on Tuesday, Burt, who is also Finance Minister, said Bermuda is an “open, transparent jurisdiction”, with “a vigourous regulatory framework”, and there is nothing to hide.
He told reporters that Bermuda is a recognised leader in international tax compliance, with 114 treaty partners, who receive information by request and automatically for tax purposes.
The leak compromises 13.4 million files measuring 1.4TB, the second largest-ever data leak after the Panama Papers.
About half of the documents – 6.8 million — relate to offshore legal service provider, Appleby, and corporate services provider, Estera, which was part of Appleby, until last year.
Another six million documents come from 19 corporate registries, mostly located in the Caribbean.
According to Burt, he has been conducting a series of interviews to tell Bermuda’s story “and to reiterate, that we take these matters extremely seriously.”
“The messages that will be shared by me, our partners and stakeholders is that Bermuda’s infrastructure and economy have supported businesses, which cover a quarter of the world’s catastrophe insurance claims, helping many of the planet’s most vulnerable people. We have a world class reputation with a robust regulatory system.
“We share information with law enforcement agencies and we are required to turn around requests for information, within 24 hours, under agreement with the UK National Crime Agency [NCA]—reflecting the island’s long-held commitment to deterring money-laundering and financial crime. Bermuda also shares this information with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
The Premier stated that over 100 tax-transparency treaty partners can request and receive information from Bermuda.
“We automatically share information via “Common Reporting Standards” with Tax Authorities in 34 countries, including the US, UK, France and Germany.
“Whenever we receive evidence of wrong-doing, we have the means and teeth to force compliance, based on our legislation, coupled with strong law enforcement and regulatory cooperation. In the past, we have taken decisive action against individuals or corporations who are non-compliant. We will continue to do so.
“Bermuda is not a place to hide money, in fact you cannot hide money or avoid tax in Bermuda, as tax authorities receive that information automatically.
“Bermuda is committed to transparency, cooperation and compliance. We will not tolerate any who fall below our globally-leading standards,” he said.