* MCT photo. Market forces: Investors buy and sell on a busy stock exchange floor. The Bermuda Stock Exchange has witnessed a string of companies delisting.
* MCT photo. Market forces: Investors buy and sell on a busy stock exchange floor. The Bermuda Stock Exchange has witnessed a string of companies delisting.
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Bermuda is headed "back to the dark ages" when it comes to local companies being open about their finances.

This is the belief of Greg Wojciechowski, CEO of the Bermuda Stock Exchange.

He said it is "disturbing" so many companies are delisting from the BSX because they do not want to meet new transparency standards.

Mr. Wojciechowski also hit out at local auditors for making the new accounting standards so expensive to implement.

He said the island is bucking the trend of having its stock exchange mature and part of the blame lies with the high cost of accounting fees.

He added: "Bermuda is a little slower. We're moving in a different direction where some companies think it is modern in going private but that is not what is happening in the rest of the world."

Efficient

MediaHouse, the parent company of the Bermuda Sun, is the latest BSX-listed business to say they are moving off the exchange.

The firm joins a string of businesses who have delisted, including Masters, SAL, Bermuda Container Lines and Long Botham Boats.

Mr. Wojciechowski said: "I've been tasked in developing an efficient modern platform for the domestic economy, which can build and supply international capital market support.

"One of the things that has distanced Bermuda from its lesser competitors is we have a domestic retail market here, so when I see any of the companies leave (the BSX), I don't like it. You have to realise why some of them are delisting.

"They say that by having to comply with some of our regulations, which is to have audited accounts - international standards for the appropriately regulated companies - they will have to take additional costs.

"Bermuda is moving to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). It's a little bit unfair for them to say it's the Exchange's fault."

Mr. Wojciechowski said questions must be raised as to why auditors are charging so much "because this action is effectively causing these companies to go to their boards and shareholders and say, 'We have to save money'." He added: "It is disturbing while we are trying to create an environment where it is transparent and open.

"Things are happening away from the Exchange that are causing companies to go private."

Mr. Wojciechowski said the global trend is a push for "more transparency for investor protection". But he added: "We have a situation in Bermuda where we are going back to the dark ages."

John Wight, chair of the Chartered Accountants of Bermuda and president and CEO of BF&M, which is listed on the BSX, said ICAB is closely aligned with the Chartered Accountants of Canada. They moved from General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to IFRS, just as the BSX is doing.

Mr. Wight said: "Effective January 1, 2011, all these companies will have to adopt IFRS.

"This is a global standard that provides for transparency and uniformity reporting of all companies." Mr. Wight admitted switching from GAAP to IFRS has significant initial costs.

But he said: "We at BF&M have gone through that process.

"While there are some up-front costs, the ongoing costs are minimal and relate principally to additional disclosure in our annual statements.

"The benefits from transparency and uniformity outweigh the additional start-up costs we're having to incur.

"It's a good thing and the ICAB encourages transparency and uniformity.

"Each public company has to assess for themselves the benefits and costs of listing on the local exchange."