Not fair to call Overseas Territories tax havens, says British PM

By Caribbean News Now contributor

LONDON, England — Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has officially recognised that the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies operate “fair and open tax systems”.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he said, “I do not think it is fair any longer to refer to any of the Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies as tax havens. They have taken action to make sure that they have fair and open tax systems.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron

Cameron’s comments were welcomed by the Overseas Territories in the Caribbean.

Cayman Finance, the private sector group that represents the Cayman Islands’ financial services industry, said the remarks by the prime minister finally recognised the transparency of the Cayman Islands financial services industry built over the past four decades.

A good, recent example of how the Cayman Islands compares to other jurisdictions is illustrated in the OECD secretary-general’s report to the G20 leaders, issued in early September, Cayman Finance said.

The report shows ratings for 98 jurisdictions, based on nine criteria, giving a green, amber, or red rating for each and where ‘green’ denotes the highest rating. Cayman is rated green across all nine categories. Brazil and the US have two ambers, Russia has seven, and Canada, Germany, Spain, and the UK each have one.

“Clearly we appreciate the comments by the prime minister. Given the facts, like the OECD/FATF reviews, we believe it is about time Cayman starts to receive some credit. We applaud Prime Minster Cameron for making this statement, which reflects the reality of the situation regarding international financial centres. We hope other heads of state emulate his actions, and the international media starts to focus on facts rather than fiction,” said Gonzalo Jalles, CEO of Cayman Finance.

Premier and minister of finance of the British Virgin Islands, Dr Orlando Smith, said, “I thank Prime Minister David Cameron for setting the record straight and acknowledging that the BVI should no longer be labelled as a ‘tax haven’.

“For many years the BVI has implemented the highest international standards on transparency, accountability and information exchange on tax matters, as set out by international bodies such as the OECD.

“We strongly agree with Mr Cameron’s assessment that the focus should now shift to those countries that really are tax havens. We have long argued that to create a level playing field, all financial centres should be covered by global agreements on regulatory standards. The BVI considers it particularly important that in order to achieve fairness and overall success on these issues policies should be raised to the highest level of established international standards to ensure across-the-board compliance.

“I reiterate my government’s support for the UK’s agenda on tax, trade and transparency and fully support all efforts aimed at establishing global standards. The BVI will continue to be a constructive partner in evolving and setting the highest standards of regulation. We are proud of our part in the global economy and we believe that good regulation is good for business. We are pleased this has now been recognised by the UK government.”

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