Bermuda says committed to transparency convention

LONDON, June 13 Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:16pm EDT

LONDON, June 13 (Reuters) - Bermuda has agreed to back an international financial transparency treaty that is aimed at stamping out tax evasion, the British government said on Thursday, boosting Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the G8 summit meeting next week.

"Bermuda is strongly committed to joining the Multilateral Convention on tax-information sharing," Bermudan Premier Craig Cannonier was quoted as saying in a statement circulated by the British Foreign Office.

On Wednesday, Cannonier had said Bermuda had "several concerns" about the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.

A spokeswoman for Cannonier was not available for comment.

The international agreement, backed by more than 50 countries, requires signatories to share information on individuals who hold bank accounts in their territories, and with the tax authorities in the individuals' home countries.

It also requires member states to maintain information on beneficial owners of companies that other tax authorities can access.

Cameron previously had said he would like all Britain's Overseas Territories to sign up to the convention but although they share Britain's monarch as head of state, the British government's writ does not extend to the self-governing states, so Cameron must rely on persuasion to secure an agreement.

Cameron invited the mainly Caribbean territories to London this week in advance of his hosting the annual gathering of the G8 group of leading economies, at which he has put tax avoidance and evasion high on the agenda.

Tax campaigners question Britain's commitment to the issue, given the prominent role played by British Overseas Territories in facilitating tax evasion, tax avoidance and the hiding of stolen assets.

While tax transparency campaigners usually support the convention, many say it does not go far enough.