Overseas territories leaders agree to increased tax transparency

By Caribbean News Now contributor

LONDON, England — Leaders of Britain’s overseas territories on Saturday agreed to back British Prime Minister David Cameron’s G8 initiative on tax, trade and transparency.

At a meeting with overseas territories leaders, the prime minister outlined his plans and requested their support for his new policy for a global system of transparency on tax matters.

In a joint statement released through the British Virgin Islands London Office, the leaders of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos said they had “had a very clear agreement and constructive exchange of views on the practical steps needed to tackle the global problem of tax evasion and how the UK and the Overseas Territories will continue to apply our high standards of regulation to address this.”

The leaders reiterated and confirmed their agreement to take the following steps:

– “To play an active part in the new pilot initiative of multilateral automatic tax information exchange launched by the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

– “To prepare national action plans on beneficial ownership to meet the FATF standards; and

– “To commit to joining the multilateral convention on mutual administrative assistance on tax matters.

“It is our collective view that as we free up the world economy we must make sure openness delivers benefits for rich economies and developing countries alike and that we maintain confidence in the fairness and effectiveness of our tax systems and in the operation of global markets. Tackling tax evasion and fraud is a global responsibility in which we will continue to play our full part,” the statement read.

“We welcome the prime minister’s willingness to work in partnership with us in seeking to achieve a step change in international standards and establishing a global level playing field through the UK’s G8 presidency.

“As part of our continuing commitment to tackling tax evasion and fraud, we have also undertaken to prepare action plans setting out the concrete steps, where needed, to fully implement the Financial Action Task Force standards to further increase our already high standards of transparency on beneficial ownership information and to ensure that this information is available to law enforcement and tax authorities in accordance with our established mutual legal assistance cooperation regimes.

“The multilateral convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters is an important global instrument, which builds upon our existing network of many bilateral agreements and other existing arrangements for exchanging information between tax authorities. The convention offers an accessible route to increase the number of jurisdictions which will be able to benefit from information exchange. It is for this reason that we have committed to joining the convention and have requested its extension to our jurisdictions as soon as possible, subject to our national procedures and the need for ensuring the achievement of a global level playing field.

“We are committed to continuing to play a leading role in delivering a fair, responsible and effectively regulated global business environment. We express the hope that the UK prime minister will succeed at Lough Erne in securing a new global standard and all Leaders will commit to move together on this common agenda designed to secure more economic growth.”

On his return to the British Virgin Islands from London, premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, reiterated his support for the UK government’s global agenda on tax, transparency and trade.

Smith said: “In the debate about tax and transparency the fact that the BVI already has stronger financial regulation for trust and corporate service providers, as well as rules regarding beneficial ownership than many countries in the G8 itself, has not been adequately appreciated.

“For many years we have implemented the highest international standards on transparency, accountability and information exchange on tax matters, as set out by the OECD. 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 committed to continuing to playing a leading role in delivering a responsible and effectively regulated global business environment and to tackling the global problem of tax evasion as part of a coordinated, balanced and meaningful process.”

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