Nick Shaxson ■ British tax havens fret about UK election

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BVI stamp

Note whose head is on that stamp

From the BVI Beacon, in the British Virgin Islands, a story about the UK’s General Election taking place today:

“The biggest election issue pertaining to overseas territories is whether they each will be required to compile a publicly searchable register listing the beneficial owners of companies based in their jurisdictions.

Leaders in the VI and other OTs [British Overseas Territories] have opposed this proposal, which they say could damage financial services industries. But both Labour and Conservative officials have pushed for the registers . . .  The parties, however, differ on how to implement that policy: Labour argues that OTs should be required to adopt a register, and the Conservatives counter that they should be encouraged but not forced to do so.”

There is more in this article, some of it more forcefully put: it’s fair to say that the tax haven players here want the UK’s Conservative Party to win. There is the usual theatre of probity, involving routine denials that this tax haven is a tax haven.

Cayman Compass reports:

“Labour leader Ed Miliband, in particular, targeted overseas territories during the campaign . . his comments were dismissed in Cayman as hypocritical and “out of touch,” but some believe the rhetoric itself is damaging to the islands’ reputation and an example of the increased hostility offshore financial centers could face under a Labour-led government.”

In the same story, Mr. Angry Anthony Travers, chairman of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, pushed the usual ‘we are not a tax haven‘ theatre, and added:

“Although we have seen very little in the way of support for the Cayman Islands financial services industry from the current coalition government led by Mr. Cameron, we can safely conclude that a Labour government led by Mr. Miliband would be more, not less, hostile to the offshore financial centers.”

The Royal Gazette in Bermuda less overtly plumps for one side over the other, but notes of UK Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband:

“Mr Miliband was talking about shutting down loopholes and havens, but we have heard the same talk from the Democrats in the US. It hasn’t happened.”

The Jersey Evening Post worries about the positions of both parties, but for different reasons:

“Although Mr Miliband’s assertions are regarded by Jersey Finance and Assistant Chief Minister Philip Ozouf as little more than political posturing, Conservative leader David Cameron’s intention to bring a referendum on European Union membership in 2017 could have serious repercussions for Jersey’s relationship with the UK and Europe in the longer term, External Relations Minister Sir Philip Bailhache has said.”

TJN has no political alignment, and we’re also intrigued to see which way this one goes.

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