KPMG to investigate Belize tax breaks

The investigation, to be carried out by KPMG in the UK, will look at the economic effects of 30-year tax exemptions given to public investment companies and their impact on aid programmes in Belize.

Lord Ashcroft is the majority shareholder of Carlisle Holdings, owner of Belize Telecommunications and Belize Bank, one of only two public investment companies to benefit from the tax break.

KPMG has been asked to carry out the investigation by the Department for International Development as an extension of an earlier report carried out by the firm last year on the central American country’s offshore financial services.

A spokesman for KPMG said: ‘We can confirm that we have agreed in principle with the British and Belize governments to complete a study on 30 year tax exemptions provided to public investment companies in Belize. The timescale will depend on the availability of the necessary information.’

The report will form part of the UK government’s assessment of Belize’s eligibility for relief under the Commonwealth debt initiative.

Clare Short, the international development secretary, suspended Belize’s participation in 1999 over concerns about its company tax concessions.

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