Archive for April 5th, 2009

CIFSA condemns grey listing

| 05/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The mixed result at the G20 summit for the Cayman Islands has also been given a mixed reception by the private sector. Over the weekend the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association said it was extremely disappointed to see the Cayman Islands on the OECD “grey” list and condemned the international organization. Meanwhile, Walkers issued a statement saying it would be inconceivable that any adverse measures would be applied to Cayman and Maples also said it was pleased to see that the OECD recognised the significant cooperation by the Cayman Islands.

CIFSA, however, expressed in no uncertain terms that Cayman should have been on the white list. It said that it had been hoped that the OECD would undertake a rational objective analysis of the tax transparency established by the Cayman Islands over the past decade.  “In reverting to its political origins, the OECD has not improved its credibility and indeed, in acting in an arbitrary and prejudicial manner, raises questions about the value that is attributed by the G20 to the cooperation in tax and criminal matters that the Cayman Islands has demonstrated, “ the Association said in a statement . In one of its most assertive statements ever concerning the unfair  treatment of the jurisdiction, CIFSA explained that Cayman has full and relevant tax transparency, not only with the United States but proactive reporting with 27 European Union nations under the  2005 European Union Savings Tax Directive.

“However, according to the OECD the Cayman Islands finds itself characterized with the wholly non compliant nations which are the root cause of the current tax evasion furor,” the statement noted. “The determination by the OECD to ignore the unilateral mechanism, which is well respected by a number of OECD members, shows the OECD still applies a double standard which clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with the good faith disclosure of information in tax matters, assuming that Cayman Islands financial institutions have anything of interest to disclose.”

CIFSA stated that at least the OECD has now set an objective test for positioning on the “white” list and noted that this is less than the total number of tax exchange arrangements that the Cayman Islands currently has in place, and as Cayman has maintained its commitment to execution of further bilateral treaties, assuming its approaches are met in good faith, the OECD will be obliged to remove Cayman from its current list swiftly.

Walkers, however, seemed to be considerably happier with the outcome, not least because of the fact the crown dependencies are on the while list and Walkers has an office in Jersey, which it noted had recently signed new tax information exchange agreements with France and Ireland.

“Walkers has had a full service Jersey office since 2006. Jersey’s position on the ‘white list’ reaffirms that Jersey has a model tax regime which meets the highest standards of transparency and regulation,” Grant Stein, global Managing Partner said. “This endorsement will bolster Jersey’s reputation as a hub for investment funds and structured finance vehicles.”

He added that while Cayman was on the grey list it has the highest number of bilateral tax information exchange agreements, which it is understood is the principal yardstick by which the jurisdictions’ progress in tax matters has been measured.  Stein said that as the OECD did not specify what the consequences would be, if any, for the "grey list", It is likely that all of the jurisdictions’ progress in tax information exchange matters would be assessed over the coming months, and those that are deemed to have made insufficient strides may be subject to certain sanctions in due course.

“It therefore seems to us to be inconceivable that any adverse measures will be applied to Cayman or the BVI. In addition, it should be noted that the sophisticated international finance transactions for which Cayman, the BVI and Jersey are used are not what this initiative seeks to target, namely tax evasion.”

He said the achievements of these jurisdictions, in which it operates in the areas of exchange of tax information and transparency, anti-money laundering and financial regulation, stand up to the closest scrutiny. “We are confident that their progress in tax information exchange matters will continue to be applauded. In turn, we will welcome those G-20 and OECD members which currently have deficient anti-money laundering regimes bringing their regimes up to the accepted international standards long applied by Cayman, the BVI and Jersey,” Stein added.

Meanwhile Maples said it was pleased to see that the decision by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to place Cayman on a list of jurisdictions that have committed to "internationally agreed tax standard[s]" recognises the significant cooperation by the jurisdiction.  It said that while the OECD is still reviewing the Cayman Islands legislation introducing the unilateral mechanism, it chose not to include the unilateral arrangements in the total number of commitments that the Cayman Islands have entered into.

 “Earlier this week, the OECD praised the Cayman Islands for ‘setting a good example’ in relation to tax information exchange agreements and noted that it was one of the first jurisdictions to commit to the OECD standards,” the Maples statement said. “We therefore look forward to the Cayman Islands being moved to the list of jurisdictions that have substantially implemented internationally agreed tax standards as soon as the OECD review is complete.”

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The reality of violence

| 05/04/2009 | 6 Comments

Although there has been a lot of talk recently about addressing the issues of gender violence in our community we will not succeed without a significant shift in cultural perception.

The way Cayman currently views the abuse of women by men they know as somehow different to a violent attack by a stranger demonstrates that the community still has a long way to go before the rhetoric regarding violence against women becomes a reality. A recent news story about a woman who had been severely beaten by her boyfriend, a man who has now been charged for the offence of Grievous Bodily Harm among others, was greeted by some troubling comments in the reader’s forum on Cayman News Service.

A number of commentators berated CNS for the headline Woman attacked at home, which was precisely what had happened — a woman had been attacked at home and beaten very severely by a man she knew. It is extremely unlikely that her pain was any less unbearable or her injuries any less sever because they were cause by hands familiar rather than strange to her. If anything the emotional pain would have been worse as the violence was committed by someone she might have trusted and even loved.

The issue is quite simple: violence is violence wherever and between whomever it occurs andit must be roundly condemned. Moreover, this violence that occurs in the home is something that all woman need to fear as much as they fear stranger-danger. Women are much more likely to be hurt or even killed by the men they know and often love. Fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, boyfriends are the men that commit violent acts on women.

If we continue to perceive and define domestic violence as something we should fear less than stranger violence we will not change the cultural particularism that makes it acceptable in this community and allows it to go on while friends, family and neighbours turn a blind eye. Violence of any kind is unacceptable and we must repeat that mantra. We should not be bringing our children up in a culture that accepts violence as the way to resolve conflict and problems.

People often talk of Cayman as a very peaceful and law abiding community, and by and large this is true. Yet behind closed doors violence reigns as the way to address relationship and family problems. Parents still beat children and men still beat women as a way of managing family life. Violence is tied in with issues of masculinity, control and conflict resolution in a way that the modern world is rejecting. Violence cannot be the answer to any of the complex and stressful issues that are associated with families and relationships. Violence is always wrong. 

With tough economic times ahead those triggers to violence and short fuses often associated with violence in the home may be shorter than ever, resulting in more men using their fists to try and control the world around them. It is now that women need more than ever to firstly be on their guard at home as much as on the street, and above all when it happens they must have the courage not to take the beating but to call the police and see through the prosecution. Until these men face the consequences of what they do and are given an opportunity to understand their violent behaviour and why they behave and react as they do, women will continue to live in fear in our community.

The idea that anyone could have breathed a sigh of relief when she read beyond that headline is terribly sad and more importantly completed misguided. All women need to be afraid of men who have been socialised in a community where violence is used as a reaction to conflict and stress. We need our women to fight back, not with violence but with words and the law. We need to speak out against this cultural practice and we need laws with teeth as well as understanding in the community at large that a woman attacked in her home by a man she knows is no less a victim of crime than one attacked by a stranger.

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A politician for the people

| 05/04/2009 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Calling the last four years of the PPM administration tomfoolery, formerUDP member and Minister Dr Frank McField began his campaign as an independent candidate on Thursday evening when he criticised the incumbents personally and politically, but also had plenty of condemnation for his old party as well. Urging the people to vote independent on 20 May, he said the party system was not part of Caymanian political culture.

Far away from the bright lights and wealth of Seven Mile Beach, McField said he was not welcome in the boardrooms of the rich and the powerful and that he cared about the real people, those who were suffering in the hard economic times. “I am guilty of having too much love for the people,” he said, adding that the PPM had not only mismanaged the country’s finances but they had mismanaged the social issues and turned their backs on the poor.

Saying that he wished he could have done much more for the poor when he was in office, he said he did not have the time to achieve what he wanted. Speaking about the Affordable Housing Initiative, he did not mention the missing $300,000 as revealed in the auditor general’s report on the issue, but criticised the current administration for saying the houses were substandard. He accused the PPM of doing nothing to try and fix them up or build more affordable homes for all the people living in overcrowded conditions.

“The PPM is the worst of the governments George Town people can remember but the PPM still makes fun of the few affordable homes I tried to build,” he said. “The PPM did not build one home for the poor people; they only wanted to destroy what I had built.” He said poor housing and social living conditions went to the heart of all societies as it impacted education since kids can’t learn properly and often led to people finding themselves involved in crime.

“Enlightened people know that those who look after the poor protect the entire nation,

for when the poor have nothing to lose not even the rich are safe. Public safety begins by addressing poverty and the negative social factors poverty breeds.”

He indicated that the current administration was neither enlightened nor intelligent and said the government was not intelligent enough to see the financial crisis coming and the administration was filled with small minded arrogance. He said that Alden McLaughlin had been lauded as the party genius but he was no genius. He had, McField said, gone to school and “memorized a few laws – memory is not education,” he declared.

He also took aim at Charles Clifford who he said had ruined the tourism product and was suffering from a Napoleon complex. “I apologise to short people here, but no one is as short as Charles Clifford; he is short of everything,” he added.

Although McField pulled no punches with his criticism of the PPM he was no less reticent when it came to the members of his former party, the UDP. “Is the UDP of George Town giving us new vision and new opportunities in these serious times or just recycled mediocrity?”

He said the George Town candidates were nice enough people but very inexperienced, with too steep a learning curve ahead of them, and had been chosen by the party leader McKeeva Bush, he said, “to fit McKeeva". He added that they would all be manipulated and dominated by the “West Bayers". He said he spoke from experience and had clashed with Bush many times. “I had to stand up to him a few times and he doesn’t like anyone standing up to him,” McField recalled.

He said he wasnow running alone under the New Vision Movement, which had been around a long time. He explained that he had only joined forces with the UDP because of what happen with the collapse of the government in 2001 and he aligned himself against Kurt Tibbetts rather than with the UDP. He explained it was not common ground but a common enemy that had pushed him into a party and he did not necessarily share the same philosophy with its members. He said the party system in Cayman was immature and had only formed because of the 2001 coup and was not entrenched.

“We need to appreciate and develop democracy within the party system before we can give total control to the parties,” he said. He said that every time he had been elected he had been elected as an independent and had served as an independent in government. He said the people of George Town needed to elect individuals with the courage to stand up for their ideas. He appealed for voters not to let the glitter of party colours con them again.  

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Blair wants to be first ‘President of EU’

| 05/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Independent): Tony Blair has emerged as the leading candidate to become the first permanent president of the European Union after Gordon Brown gave his grudging blessing to the plan. The former prime minister has stepped up his campaign for the job, which he wants to use to build a bridge between Europe and the new Obama administration. His return to the global stage would be a shock to his critics over the Iraq war and dismay many in Europe. But The Independent on Sunday has learnt that Mr Brown has accepted that his old rival should be in pole position for the appointment, on the basis that Britain needs to have a key figure in the architecture of the "new world order".

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Obama’s vision: no nukes

| 05/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Barack Obama has outlined his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons in a major speech in Europe. The US president called for a global summit on nuclear security and the forging of new partnerships to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. He said he hoped to negotiate a new treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. North Korea’s "provocative" rocket launch earlier in the day underscored the need for action, he said. Although his nuclear goals might not be realised in his lifetime, he said he would strive to achieve them.

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