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Bermuda refuses to sign tax evasion deal

Craig Cannonier 48

Bermuda says it has not signed a tax avoidance treaty with Britain insisting that it would do nothing to jeopardise the island’s financial model or agreements signed in the past.

 Premier Craig Cannonier told a news conference that Bermuda and nine other British Overseas Territories (OTs) and Crown dependencies declined to sign the tax treaty during talks in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cameron last week summoned Bermuda and five other OTs -- the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Montserrat and Anguilla -- to London as he sought more transparency to end what he called the "scourge of tax evasion".

But Cannonier, who led his One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) to power in the December general elections, told reporters that “at least up to the time I left” none of the 10 countries had signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.

The Premier told the news conference: “We must look at every ‘T’ and make sure it is crossed, and every ‘I’ and make sure it is dotted, because we do not want to put in jeopardy the financial model that we do have in Bermuda

The Premier said, “Bermuda’s model is an insurance center, not a banking domicile. What we do here is we look out for nations like the US and UK. When there are catastrophes, the companies that are domiciled here in Bermuda are paying large premiums when these disasters do happen.”

“There is a great misunderstanding about what it is that we do. So we will continue to ensure that we get the message out there.”

“We are an insurance jurisdiction and will continue to thrive in that market,” said the Premier. “Since the 1940s Bermuda has been exchanging information. When it comes to regulations, Bermuda has always been the forerunners.”

The other countries at the talks were Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Weekend reports out of London suggested the 10 countries had signed up to the deal during the meeting Prime Minister Cameron called ahead of a two-day G8 summit in Northern Ireland he hosted on Monday and Tuesday when leaders agreed new measures to clamp down on money launderers, illegal tax evaders and corporate tax avoiders.