British Minister Slams Romney Bermuda Tax Slur

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA
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Slurs bandied about in a row over the finances of US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney branding Bermuda as a tax haven are under attack from Britain’s Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds.

Democrats claimed the Caribbean island was a tax haven shielding Republican Romney’s money from tax in the USA.

Romney has offshore accounts, including a shell company in Bermuda.

The company, Santaky High Yield Assets Investors, has posted earnings of around $2 million, was transferred to a trust in Romney’s wife’s name in 2003.

He did not disclose the company until he released his 2010 tax returns during the Republican presidential primaries.

Unfortunate coverage

Democrat supporters of President Barack Obama claim the move cut his US tax bill, without offering any evidence of wrongdoing.

Simmonds stepped in to the row to back Bermuda.

“Bermuda’s record on probity is strong . It is unfortunate that media coverage of aspects of the election campaign in the US has focused so sharply on a misrepresentation of Bermuda as a tax haven due to the fact that Bermuda has chosen a low tax model which, although different from the US or UK, generates the equivalent of $16,000 for every man, woman and child on the island,” he said.

“The UK will continue to support the efforts of the Bermuda Government to counter the false impression that Bermuda is a tax haven.”

Simmonds explained Bermuda had a respected tax and financial system and the island was a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is leading the global fight against tax avoidance.

Reinforce relationships

The minister also revealed the UK government is to reinforce relationships with British Overseas Territories, and will hold a conference in London later this year to discuss future strategy.

“The conference will bring together UK Ministers and political leaders from the territories to give a lead to work to review and implement the strategy and commitments. I want us to be ambitious in developing plans to implement specific proposals. I want this to be a forum where we can engage on the issues that matter,” he said.

“The UK is proud of the Overseas Territories and is ambitious for their future. Our strategy is to focus on re-engagement between the UK and Territories, cooperation on good governance, public financial management and economic planning and improving the quality and range of assistance to the Territories.”

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