OECD conference opens in Bermuda

By added on 31/05/2011

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Forum being held in Bermuda is testament to the Island becoming one of the first jurisdictions to implement the new international standards on tax information exchange and transparency, the Royal Gazette reports.

That is according to Mike Rawstron, chair of the Global Forum, who joined Premier Paula Cox and Pascal Saint-Amans, head of the Global Forum Secretariat, at a press conference ahead of the third Meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes held at the Fairmont Southampton yesterday.

Mr Rawstron said that the forum was entering an exciting new phase with 101 member jurisdictions and a further 20 new members set to join in the coming months with a good mix of emerging and developing countries and financial and non-financial centres and it was fitting that Bermuda should be hosting the event as it led by example.

“We have a lot to contribute to members’ development in terms of assisting them to understand the international standards and helping them to adopt them and improve their own systems,” he said.

“The peer review process has proven, I think, a significant catalyst in driving improvements. All countries subjected to this process have found it very robust and very challenging.”

The Premier had kicked-off proceedings saying that Bermuda was proud to be hosting the event in the OECD’s 50th anniversary year.

She said that in recent months the OECD’s work on international financial centres was the focus for the Council of Ministers with a lot of the talk on the tax and development programme while the Global Forum was an example of the OECD structuring its dialogue with non-OECD economies, including the newest four members - Colombia, Georgia, Ghana and Nigeria.

Ms Cox, who had been in the Global Forum Steering Committee meeting during the morning, added that the fast growing membership reflected the international community’s commitment to the Standard for Exchange of Information on request and the relevance and effectiveness of its work and the benefits derived from being part of it.

“Bermuda has done much to implement the standard,” she said. “We take our role as a responsible and trusted global citizen seriously.

“In endorsing the internationally agreed standard in the year 2000, Bermuda affirmed its long-standing position it does not adopt or promote measures that have been characterised as harmful, such as legislating bank secrecy or embedding in legislation similar measures that prevent disclosure of information.

“Bermuda continues to negotiate and conclude TIEAs (Tax Information Exchange Agreements) and other agreements relating to taxation that provide for the exchange of information on tax matters to the OECD standard - 24 to date.

“Bermuda has participated in the peer review process by both contributing assessors, trainers, and being in the first round of those who were peer-reviewed. At its last meeting, the Global Forum reviewed and ratified Bermuda’s phase one peer review report, with the determinations that Bermuda meets all elements, with some recommendations.”

Ms Cox refered to the Specified Business Legislation Amendment Act 2011 that she tabled earlier this month to address the report’s recommendations with the intention of passing the bill by the end of next month.

“Bermuda is also committed to working with fellow Global forum members to drive the implementation of the standard on a global scale,” she said. “We will continue to play our part as a vice-chair of the Steering Group and contribute actively to efforts to advance the Global Forum’s mandate, at the same time continuing to ensure that the perspective of small jurisdictions is considered.”