Defiant: Premier Craig Cannonier and Finance Minister Bob Richards at a Joint Ministerial Council meeting in the UK. *Photo supplied
Defiant: Premier Craig Cannonier and Finance Minister Bob Richards at a Joint Ministerial Council meeting in the UK. *Photo supplied

The Premier launched a fierce defence of Bermuda’s so-called ‘tax haven’ status when he took to the airwaves in London this week.

Craig Cannonier came out fighting when pressed by War on Want’s Murray Worthy on BBC News World Business, saying: ‘We have nothing to hide.

“If we are going to talk about tax havens and hiding we can certainly come right to London and say well listen you have foreigners who come to your country and live here and who pay less taxes.”

The Premier, who was in London for talks on the Overseas Territories, added: ”Just because we name our tax differently does not mean we don’t have tax.

“You are attempting to impose what you think is the right way forward on another nation.

“But for you to impose upon Bermuda and many of the other countries on trying to decide how they raise revenues is quite frankly astounding to me.”

During a lively exchange in which Mr Worthy questioned the island’s tax system he said: “What do you expect for Bermuda to do? Do you want us to fish? Do you want us to have farms? We don’t have the land for that.

“I think it is foolish because you would be plunging countries like Bermuda and the Cayman into poverty.”

Mr Cannonier, who along with Finance Minister Bob Richards and Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy returned from the Joint Ministerial Council meetings in the UK last night, described the trip as ‘fruitful’. He said: “We covered an array of matters concerning all Overseas Territories, such as economic diversification, jobs and economic growth.

“It was an opportunity to continue the working relationship with our Ministerial counterparts in the UK Government and the OT Governments.

“We look forward to maintaining this level of engagement and working on the action points in the Final Communique.”

The JMC meetings took place from November 25 and 28 and were chaired by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mark Simmonds MP, Minister for the Overseas Territories. 

Mr Simmonds said the Overseas Territories had signed up to a raft of new tax agreements as well as agreeing to pilot tax exchanges with five European countries and to consult on beneficial ownership central registries and make those registries public via consultation. “This is something that we in the UK Government warmly welcome,” said Mr Simmonds.