Finance Minister Bob Richards said he was dismayed by the report, while the opposition Progressive Labour Party joined him in condemning the report as “extremely disappointing”.
Shadow Minister of Economic Development Kim Wilkerson said she would support the efforts of the Bermuda government and the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BBDA) in protecting the reputation of the island.
Oxfam’s top 15 list put the Cayman Islands second behind Bermuda with the Netherlands third, Curacao eighth, the Bahamas 11th, Barbados 13th, and British Virgin Islands 15th.
Richards pointed to “serial errors” in Oxfam’s report on offshore centres, which found that multinational companies reported US$80 billion in profits in Bermuda in 2012.
He said the report’s ranking system — which showed US multinationals reported higher profits in Bermuda than they did in Japan, China, Germany and France combined – was based wholly on volume of assets, ignoring Bermuda’s good record on transparency and compliance.
He said Bermuda is fully committed to all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other global initiatives, and scores “extremely well on all internationally recognised tables.
“Oxfam, directly and indirectly, appears simply to have ignored Bermuda’s internationally recognised role as a centre of corporate and tax transparency and compliance, a key ally in the fight against money laundering and all criminal activities, and a committed partner in the initiatives of the OECD on tax reform …,” Richards said.
“We have benefited in recent years from a flight to quality, as companies have begun to respond to global transparency initiatives.”
Wilkerson in a statement, said “it is extremely disappointing that Oxfam would release such an alarmingly under-researched report. Nowhere in the 46-page report is there an explanation as to how the researchers applied their ranking criteria to Bermuda.
“It is evident that it could not have been applied appropriately because one criterion examines the lack of co-operation with international efforts against tax avoidance. Considering this, it is alarming that the 43 Tax Information Exchange Agreements that Bermuda has entered into with other jurisdictions have been completely excluded from the review.”
The report brought a sharp rebuttal from Ross Webber, chief executive officer of the BBDA, who said Oxfam’s assertions were based on “flawed economics and a lack of understanding”.
“We consider it an inaccurate, ill-informed and disturbingly prejudiced attack on a small north-Atlantic archipelago that exerts an enormously positive impact globally — including on the very regions and populations Oxfam wrongly accuses us of threatening,” Webber said
He added that Bermuda’s economic model was different to any other international financial centre.
“We support close to a half-million jobs globally, creating employment not only on the island itself, but also in onshore trading partners,” Webber said.
“That amounts to an estimated 300,000 jobs in the US and more than 70,000 in the UK through trade, foreign direct investment, and portfolio investment capacity. In this way, our 21-square-mile country facilitates critical economic globalisation.”
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