Archive for April 2nd, 2009

Cayman Islands on grey list

| 02/04/2009 | 30 Comments

(CNS): Only four jurisdictions have been named and shamed on the much feared G20 summit black list and the Cayman Islands is not one of them. Cayman has, however, found itself on the grey list of jurisdictions being described by the OECD as those that have committed to the internationally agreed tax standard, but not yet substantially implemented those agreements. The grey list consists of around forty offshore financial centres that are no tax and low tax jurisdictions. (Left: UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown)

Despite the continuous mantra about onshore centres such as the City of London and the state of Delaware being less compliant with international regulations than Cayman, both the UK and the US are on the white list of countries considered to have substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard set by the OECD.

What will happen now remains to be seen, but whatever new regulations are to be drawn up and implemented it will be the OECD which will manage and supervise the process.

Speaking at this morning’s press briefing, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said regardless of and in spite of the uncertainty, the Cayman Islands Government would be relentless in its efforts to demonstrate to the global community that our country, by any reasonable analysis, is cooperative, regulated and transparent in all aspects of our financial services sector.

“The Cayman Islands is better placed out of all the jurisdictions to make any adjustments that will be needed for us to comply with whatever those global standards will be. We are ready to make adjustments,”he said.

Continue Reading

Teens charged with forgery

| 02/04/2009 | 5 Comments

(CNS): More than a year after they were arrested, four teenagers, aged between 14 and 17, have been charged with various offenses, including forgery of currency notes, possession of counterfeit notes and uttering forged currency (which is presenting forged currency for use as payment or using as legitimate currency). Police said today that the young men were arrested in 2007 during an investigation by officers from the Financial Crime Unit and will appear in court on 28 April. The RCIPS said that now that the matter was before the courts they could not provide any further comments on the case.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.


Continue Reading

Clothing forbidden at hotel

| 02/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A passionate German naturist has revealed his plan to open Germany’s first hotel where clothes are banned. Frieder Haferkorn, the entrepreneur behind the venture, says he is turning a conventional hotel in the Black Forest into a haven for naturists. According to the house rules, clothes are not only optional, but strictly forbidden at all times. In keeping with naturists’ belief that nudity is non-sexual, acts of a sexual nature are banned in common areas. Rule number one limits access to the hotel to followers of the nudist movement. And rule number three demands that guests be naked at all times.

Go to article

Continue Reading

GT falters in B-ball League

| 02/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Defending champions George Town Sports Club (GTSC) suffered their second consecutive defeat this past Sunday night in the Dominos Pizza Men’s League when they were humbled 83-72 by the Wolves. The first division action at the court off Eastern Avenue drew a huge crowd, which was thoroughly entertained by the level of talent and combat displayed throughout the game. Wolves took an earlier lead, but GTSC caught up and even managed at one point to overtake the Wolves. In the second quarter, Wolves tied the match, and from then it went back and forth, but in the end, Wolves’ offensive and defensive attacks proved a little too much for the unfit GTSC. (Left: GTSC’s Jonothan Mitchell leaps for the basket – photos Tara Bush)

But as most fans are aware, GTSC always starts the season deceptively slow, only to bounce back to win it all, a release from the Cayman Islands Basketball Association said. It should be noted, however, that GTSC has not suffered two consecutive matches before. Wolves, on the other hand, look impressive and hungry to win.

The top scorers for the Wolves spread the wealth around, with Gary McLaughlin earning 24 points and 15 rebounds, Dwight O’Garro with 25 points and 9 rebounds and Earl Allen had 14 points and 8 rebounds along with 4 assists.

GTSC’s top performers were Antonio Thompson with 22 point and 9 rebounds, Mike Morgan on 14 points and 17 rebounds and Jonathan Mitchell with12 points and 4 rebounds. (Right: Wolves’ Earl Allen scores from a layup)

In a League game on Sunday night, Esso Blazers defeated Colombia 76-54 in the first game. Colombia, who earned their ticket into Division I after skating through Division 2 last season with an unblemished record, are finding that playing with the big boys is not so easy.

Esso Blazers took an easy win with their big men crowding Colombia’s key players and forcing them to shoot from the outside, which proved a difficult task for them.

Top guns for Blazers were Samuel O’Garro with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Rotando Thompson also added 10 pints and 16 rebounds and Perry Levy had 11 points and 6 assists. Jonathon Corpus led with 21 points and 3 rebounds for Colombia. Norbello Livingston added 11 points and 4 rebounds and Charles Forbes 6 points and 8 rebounds.

Cayman Islands Basketball National Technical Victor “Voot” O’Garro said “No team is going to have an easy time of it this year. There are no favorites – all the teams are going full tilt for the trophy. There is a lot of talent on display and everyone wants to do their best.”

Continue Reading

Bermuda First economic think tank formed

| 02/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Royal Gazette): A think tank of industry chiefs and political leaders has been formed to find strategies to stave off looming economic threats. Bermuda First, which has more than 80 members including a 17-strong steering committee of local and international business heads, will devise ways to prosper in the recession. Led by ArielRe founder and CEO Don Kramer the group will look at topics including: US and European hostility to tax havens; the decline in tourism; the forecast decline in construction; high housing costs; and immigration. Mr. Kramer said work permit term limits had affected some sectors although the international business community "does not seem to have suffered". (Left Bermuda Premier Dr Ewart Brown)

Go to article

Continue Reading

White, grey and black list of tax havens to be published

| 02/04/2009 | 26 Comments

(CNS): UPDATE 1:40 Thursday: G20 leaders agreed on Thursday that blacklists of tax havens should be published in the near future, a European diplomat told Reuters. "The G20 has agreed that it will be the OECD which will publish the tax haven list imminently," said the diplomat, who is attending the summit in London. There will be a white, grey and black list (of tax havens) referring to those who have signed up to OECD rules on information sharing, those who have signed up but not yet applied them and those who are in the clear."

According to the Financial Times, this morning this blacklist contained six countries. But it has halved in size as the leaders have realised that they could do without the shame. The three countries that are going to be fingered are Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Uruguay. The three countries that committed this afternoon to reaching information sharing agreements are Brunei, Guatemala and Malaysia.

G20 leaders have reached an agreement to tackle the global financial crisis with measures worth $1 trillion and that there will be sanctions against secretive tax havens. To help countries with troubled economies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will get extra resources worth up to $750bn, and the G20 has committed about $250bn to boost global trade and pledged to fight protectionism.

At the summit in London tax havens appeared to be on the top of the agenda with early reports from London suggesting there would be a blacklist. "I’m expecting that in due course there will be a list of countries," UK Treasury Minister Stephen Timms told reporters this morning. "I’m expecting there will be sanctions against countries."

A draft summit communique late on Wednesday vowed to identify locations that fail to cooperate, including tax havens, and to use sanctions against them. France demanded a blacklisting of tax havens, which earlierin the week had appeared to be a potential stumbling block at the summit.

Against a backdrop of violent demonstrations, the leaders of the world’s biggest nations discussed how to address the worldwide economic recession, and despite offshore centres not causing the economic meltdown they became one of the primary targets.  

Addressing the complaint that action on tax havens is a red herring, Timms said that “these opaque financial boltholes allowed banks and others to underestimate the scale of their mounting toxic assets. … havens were not the cause of the financial crisis but they played a major part.”

There are still concerns in the Cayman Islands whether it will be on the blacklist but even if the jurisdiction escapes, experts here have said there will be a number of changes to the international regulation regime which Cayman must be ready to face.

CIFSA Director James Bergstrom recently said there was a possibility that Cayman would be  blacklisted at G20 but not because of any fair or objective criteria. Whether it was or was not, the likelihood of new regulations emerging was very high and there would be a need to work with the international community. “If there is a silver lining about this,” he said, “with so much attention focused on us we can now go forward and assist with regulatory change and work with the international community to take reasonable steps to deal with any real concerns.”

This morning, news from the summit talks suggested that France and Germany were demanding new concessions from the United States on financial regulation. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy joined forces, warning that they would refuse to sign any agreement that did not meet their “red lines” on tax havens, hedge fund regulation, tracing “securitised” assets sold around the world and capping bankers’ remuneration. They also said they wanted the “naming and shaming” of tax havens that refuse to go along with any tougher regulations, somthing the US has opposed.

Sarkozy suggested that Europe would not take economic direction from the US and it was America that would have to compromise. “The crisis didn’t spontaneously erupt in Europe, did it?” he said last night.

Continue Reading

Cuba presents new challenge

| 02/04/2009 | 11 Comments

(CNS): With the tourism industry already struggling in the face of the global recession, the Cayman Islands now faces a new challenge with the awakening of what Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford has called a sleeping giant. With the impending removal of the travel embargo on the country by the US, Clifford said it is a case of not “if” but rather “when” US restrictions will end and Cayman is preparing to compete, and there were opportunities for Cayman to seize in a newly opened Cuba.

“In the PPM manifesto, the government sets out its policy to continue to focus on the North American market using strategic and innovative programmes while simultaneously increasing marketing activities in other markets, such as Europe, in order to mitigate the impact of the lifting of US sanctions against Cuba, which we predicted was inevitable in as few as 4 to 8 years’ time,” Clifford stated.

He said given the latest announcement from the US White House and Congress, the projections may have been prophetic. He added that the government has been steadfastly preparing to compete. “In the past 3½ years, the Cayman Islands’ approach has been to engage the market to seek solutions which lessen the extent of our reliance upon the US as a source market,” the Minister noted.

These solutions include continuing to grow markets in Europe and Canada, pursuing twin island tourism with Cuba and researching new source markets in places such as South America, he explained. With these secondary markets already open to Cuba the focus is a way of gradually lessening Cayman’s dependence on the US market.  He said the average growth in the last three years from the Canadian market has been approximately 21% and in Europe 17%.

“The DoT, with local consultants Deloitte, is also presently conducting research into the viability of South America as a secondary market. The results of this research will be available in a few months,” Clifford said, adding that Cayman Airways was looking to expand into this market as well. He also said CAL could partner with European-based airlines to provide twin-island vacations via existing CAL routes, including Havana.

“An important step in realising this is Cayman Airways’ plans to offer e-ticketing to travellers via Cuba which is expected to be in place within a month,” he said. “Most recently, Cayman Airways participated in air service negotiations between the UK and Cuban authorities which increased the airline’s frequency rights to Havana from 3 weekly to 7 weekly.  Before this extension of rights, CAL only had rights to 3 scheduled flights per week and had to operate the remaining 4 frequencies to Havana on a charter basis. 

"The approval to increase our scheduled frequency offers the airline greater security on this route.  During these negotiations, CAL also obtained the ability to operate charter service to any city in Cuba.  This allows CAL favourable positioning to respond to future demand.”

The implications to Cayman’s cruise product could be far more reaching than for the overnight as the cruise lines will be eager to add Cuba ports of call to their itinararies — possibly replacing Cayman. CNS has contacted the Florida Cruise Association and three of the major cruise lines that use Cayman regularly. However, none of them have yet offered any comment on their future plans regarding the neighbouring island.

Clifford, however, said Cayman could stand to benefit from the opening of Cuban ports rather that suffer,but it would be some time before Cuba was in a position to receive significant cruise numbers. He explained that during meetings with cruise lines they have said that despite the fact that Cuba has many natural ports, the infrastructure and systems will still need development.

“As such, there will be a transition period,” he said. “Ultimately, when Cuba reopens and any new major itineraries are launched, islands in close proximity to Cuba, like the Cayman Islands, stand to benefit. Cruise executives have previously advised that there are at present no plans to create a complete ‘Cuban itinerary’ akin to their ‘Alaskan itinerary’, rather the cruise lines envisioned itineraries with multiple stops in Cuba, as well as stops in neighbouring islands.”

Continue Reading