Hopes of G8 tax avoidance breakthrough fading fast as Bermuda refuses to sign up to new rules
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 13 June 2013
An international deal to crack down on secretive tax havens is in jeopardy after the British Crown Territory of Bermuda refused to sign up to new transparency rules.
Tax avoidance had been placed top of the agenda for the G8 summit of world leaders meeting next week in Northern Ireland, and David Cameron has called Britain’s 10 overseas territories and crown dependencies to talks on the topic in London this Saturday.
The Prime Minister had hoped to persuade them to agree to a new convention drafted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to give momentum to his drive for transparency. But the plan is now in doubt.
Mr Cameron and the Chancellor George Osborne have been pushing hard for the British territories to give ground. But the Foreign Office is thought to share the islands’ concerns that major sources of their income will be harmed as they are disadvantaged against offshore competitors in Asia.
Craig Cannonier, the Prime Minister of Bermuda, said: “My understanding is that we are not here to sign something, but simply to agree that everyone needs to get on par.”
He added that the OECD proposals had potentially damaging elements for Bermuda. “There’s some clauses in there that we need to look at, that may need to be adjusted,” he told Reuters. “Our finance ministry is going over it with a fine-tooth comb.”
His statement may encourage others to follow suit and could allow G8 members sceptical about the Cameron plan – such as the United States, Russia and Canada – to tell him to put his own house in order first.
Bermuda has been accused of allowing tax avoidance by multinational firms. The territories – which include the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands – agreed in May to share taxpayer information with the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but the OECD convention covers more countries and more information.
Murray Worthy, tax campaigner at the protest group War on Want, said: “Bermuda’s rejection... shows that Cameron’s tough talk of taking on tax havens is just that – talk. If Cameron was actually serious about tackling tax havens, he could simply legislate... [he] has chosen to invite the UK’s own tax havens to sign a deal that only tinkers at the edges of their secrecy.”
He added: “It is an outrage that many of the world’s most significant tax havens that are used to dodge taxes around the world are British. ”
Ministers played down the setback, insisting a majority of the 10 nations intend to sign the convention and they had all pledged to draw up an action plan to disclose who owns and controls companies based in their countries.
As The Independent revealed, Mr Cameron may not secure his aim of persuading the G8 nations to produce “beneficial ownership” registers open to the public. Instead, the summit may agree to leave it up to individual countries to decide whether to limit access to such registers to tax and law enforcement authorities. British officials insist that would still be a breakthrough as it would boost global efforts to crack down on money laundering, tax evasion and terrorist activity aided by tens of thousands of anonymous “shell companies.”
Officials insist progress will be made at the G8 but there are signs Britain is lowering its expectations.
Aid groups welcome Mr Cameron’s transparency drive but believe he has left it very late to broker a G8 deal. Diplomatic sources agree, saying that the prospect of a breakthrough would be greater if the UK was not relying on a last-minute push.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Barclays's new life insurance heralds a revolution on the high street
How to protect your assets if the stock markets begin to head south again
Bargain Hunter: Timing is everything in making big savings on beer, wine and whisky
Seven fund superstars to trust with your cash
Mark Dampier: Don't listen to stock market doom-mongers - sit back and enjoy the sun
- 1 Mystery of the Siberian holes at the end of the world 'solved': Scientists offer explanation
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 Sean Hannity reacts to Russell Brand's Israel-Gaza criticism: 'You're a dumb actor known for your failed marriage to Katy Perry'
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Financial Analyst, Forecasting, Halifax, Banking,...
£500 per day: Orgtel: Business Architect - Banking - Bristol - £500 per day A...
£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000