Travers spreads new message

| 10/05/2009

(CNS): As global leaders continue to criticise the Cayman Islands as a facilitator of tax abuse by large US corporations, European business and even wealthy individuals, the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association has vowed to challenge the negative comments about the jurisdiction directly wherever they occur throughout the world press. Anthony Travers, the new chair of CIFSA, who has in the last few weeks taken an entirely new approach to handing Cayman’s overall PR, has said he intends to “deal immediately with erroneous and negative comment” about  Cayman’s Financial sector.

Travers explained to CNS that CIFSA has now completed its review of various Cayman Islands public relations initiatives and as a result it will make recommendations to the new government immediately following the election, but when it came to immediate action Travers said there was a pressing need for a proactive rebuttal mechanism that will take effect right across the internet.

Travers said CIFSA intended to deal with what he described as erroneous and negative comment head on. “One of the evident concerns that has developed in recent years is the factually inaccurate statement by politicians and private interest groups which has sought to negate Cayman’s excellent  transparency  and history of  cooperation,” he said. “It appears that these statements have been allowed to gain traction in the global consciousness simply because they have not been firmly and immediately dealt with on a case specific basis."

Travers stated that in addition to the conventional public relations and lobbying initiatives that are being conducted now by CIFSA through Quinn Gillespie in Washington and Media House in London, CIFSA has implemented, with immediate effect, a comprehensive programme with Virilion, a US company which specializes exclusively in real time review of all forms of web based communication.

“Their systems will monitor the internet for any negative comment concerning Cayman and they will undertake immediate corrective action. Virilion have been briefed by CIFSA with the appropriate and correct messaging and will post instant rebuttals on the offending blog and web sites,” he said. “I recognize that the Cayman  Financial Industry is late with a number of these initiatives,“ Travers added, "but I am firmly of the belief that we are moving ahead in the right direction and  those who campaign continually against Cayman will shortly find  the rules have now changed  and that they will not avoid the sword of truth  forever.”

In the last few weeks Travers has written to the CI government making it clear that the industry requires immediately legislative changes concerning the Confidential Relationships Preservation Law as well as more bilateral tax exchange agreements. He has taken on new PR firms and written to the President of the United States to tell him he is wrong about Cayman. With industry backing, Travers says he intends to tackle the perceptions about Cayman head on and spread a new message.

Category: Business

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Re the UK Govt they have their hands full at present in respect of the scandal involving members of parliament / government claiming expenses in respect of getting their swimming pools cleaned , chandeliers installed , refurnishing of  holiday homes etc . This is all being reported by The Daily Telegraph who have the full list of expenses and are at present shaming the Govt and opposition parties by disclosing the contents  

    It is somewhat ironic bearing in mind all the finger pointing they are doing at Cayman especially when quite a few have avoided paying the appropriate level of CGT etc 

     

    Im guessing that CIFSA and Travers are just waiting for the right opportunity to go on the attack so to speak with Gordon Brown 

    • Anonymous says:

      Good presentation today by Travers at the AIMA meeting. CIFSA needs to take the EU draft directive on Investment Managers more seriously though.

      Of course sprinkled in with the insights were some highly dubious conclusions that rollover had caused Fund Administrators to flee to Canada which in turn meant that there was a lack of substantial presence in Cayman of Cayman vehicles which meant that we failed one of the OECD criteria for harmful tax competition and made us vulnerable to be blacklisted. 

      The fact of the matter is that: (1) Fund Administrators’ decisions to relocate to Canada was primarily driven by Canadian tax breaks being offered. With the tax breaks it is easier for a Fund Administrator to operate onshore rather than offshore. (2) the presence of Fund Administrators here will not establish the substantial presence of the vehicles they administrate (3) While establishing substantial presence will certainly entail the issuance of more work permits, rollover in itself does not directly relate to establishing substantial presence. However, a good case can be made that special incentives (including fast track, 8 year permits without requirement to advertise) should be made for Fund Managers (as opposed to Administrators) fleeing NY  to set up here since  the Fund Managers are highly specialized and there will be no competition with Caymanians for those positions and they will establish substantial presence for Cayman vehicles.

      It was also spurious to suggest that Fund Managers leaving London chose the Channel Islands over us because of our Immigration policy. Clearly they chose them primarily because of their proximity to the European market added to the fact that they are now on the white list. The Channel Islands normally have preference when it comes to establishing European funds, while we have preference for US Funds.  

      The present onslaught, if met by the correct response by our policy makers, could actually be an opportunity.               

       

      • Anonymous says:

        Mr. Travers’s whole thesis was based on the fact that the 1998 (not 1997) OECD Report listed lack of substantial activities as one of the four criteria to identify harmful tax havens, and concluded that it should have been obvious to us that we would in 2009 be condemned by President Obama and others for having ‘shell companies’.  However, what spoils this thesis is that, in view of the strongly expressed objections to using lack of substantial activities as a criterion, in its 2001 Progress Report the OECD said as follows:

        "Thus, the Committee has decided that commitments will be sought only with respect to the transparency and effective exchange of information criteria to determine which jurisdictions are considered as uncooperative tax havens. In applying the transparency and exchange of information criteria many factors are relevant, including a relaxed regulatory framework, which reduces transparency and makes it less likely that the information needed for effective exchange of information will be available. The Forum will continue to examine all factors affecting the ability of a jurisdiction to engage in effective exchange of information.The jurisdictions that have made commitments prior to the issuance of this report [i.e. Cayman] will be informed that they can choose to review their commitments in respect of the no substantial activity criterion".
         
        So by 2001 the OECD had dropped lack of substantial activity as a criterion. The question is whether if OECD approves our unilateral mechanism (within the next couple of days) or we sign up 12 bilateral agreements, the goalpost will be shifted back to the 1998 Report position.    
  2. Anonymous says:

     No What I understood was that there are no additional  talking heads .The point is surely that the leadership of CIFSA agrees the messaging and the new service sends it out on the internet  is all in approved form by way of rebuttal.

    • Anonymous says:

      All attention in this effort seems to be focussed on Washington and not London the latter of which appears to be no less of a threat. Are no ‘open letters’ to be written to Gordon Brown? 

      The UK House of Commons debate on the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) Report on the British Overseas Territories which is being serialised by the Net News is most interesting for revealing how the Overseas Territories are viewed. The following is quote from the contribution of MP Andrew Mackinlay. First, it is interesting that (1) he believes we are on the blacklist, and (2) he considers that we are so unsophisticated as to not understand the implications of being on a ‘backlist’ (or indeed a grey list), and (3) that he considers that the UK Treasury should do something about it.    

      "Members have identified about the G20 demand that pressure should be brought to bear on tax havens, and about the letter written by the Prime Minister. I urge the Minister to throw some light on that, if at all possible, because it seems strange, to say the least, that we have a list identifying seven overseas territories that are on the OECD blacklist, the finances of one of which are directly administered by the Treasury. I will restrain myself from making any party political points about the Treasury’s inability to come up with any accurate figures to do with the Budget—oh, I have not restrained myself, but I know that hon. Members will know what I mean. This is a very serious issue indeed and it has to be gripped, not only because the Government and Parliament are responsible, but because, whether they like it or not, the overseas territories have to realise that it is not in their interests to appear on such a blacklist. If the overseas territories department at the Foreign Office is not responsible for this issue, then it will have to be the Treasury’s responsibility. As a consequence of this debate, the Select Committee on the Treasury might want to consider this issue".

  3. Anonymous says:

     Isn’t this precisely the problem? Having people who don’t know (and don’t care) speak on behalf of Cayman? To answer every single bad piece of publicity that comes out (especially blogs!) is a bit of an over-reach. And there is the danger that it appears to be just what it is – – a talking head. What Cayman needs is a clear, compelling, consistent message from its leadership — whoever that is. 

  4. Thankful says:

    Thank  you Mr. Travers and thanks to the Industry for playing your part. 

    Please start with the Desmond Seales and his Net News especially their Editorials.  In his zeal to be the "prophetic – I told ya so" voice of the CI…he fails miserably and contributes, in my view, to much of the rhetoric and the campaigns against us (of course he does not believe so…dont we all know he is the lone voice crying the wilderness And NO ONE is Listening!!)  Of course he cant be wrong and EVERYONE else is not listening or understand!!….in fact he has sturred the pot.  By their own admission, that paper’s articles were the main reason/contact for the Alajahzeera (spelling) TV visit…in fact did youlike his little poking fun…egg-on he had in the video!!!!?  It was disgusting and I dont know what he is trying to prove.  So my hope is that this printed piece of paper known locally as "not News" instead of Net News should be on this radar in my opinion.

    Thanks again and may we continue to weather the storm and trust the unseen hand in teh midst of the journey.

  5. Anonymous says:

     Everyone in Cayman should be made aware of the serious lapse in judgement at the most senior Govt  level that allowed this to happen. Whether we shall have the luxury of being allowed to learn from this mistake is anyons guess. This is way past the finger pointing stage and we need to unify with one message , forget all the politics for the time being and the parties trying to score points from each other with regards this

    For all these critics of Tony Travers what the heck have you done to try and sort this situation out . The answer is of course nothing 

     

    So stop finger pointing and offer support to the one individual  Mr Travers who can put our case forward and deal with any questions and our detractors .

    • Anonymous says:

      What everyone seems to be missing in the accolades for the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association and Mr. Travers in particular, is that being proactive in advancing the interests of our financial services industry  is not merely the responsibility of government but also of the private sector who are the direct beneficiaries. In other words, this should not be seen as the CIFSA having to pick up a ball dropped by Govt. but rather that the CIFSA itself failed to take the appropriate steps a long while ago.    

    • Anonymous says:

      "Everyone in Cayman should be made aware of the serious lapse in judgement at the most senior Govt  level that allowed this to happen".

      So much for stop the fingerpointing. I think we need to be clear that the planned assault by the US Administration isn’t a matter of a lapse in judgement by our government. This is not simply a question of giving really convincing arguments to the US politicians. This is about their ideology and internal politics.           

  6. Twyla M Vargas says:

    BUY THE PAINT

    I sincerely support the efforts being done by Mr Anthony Travers, in challenging the negative comments expressed through out the world press, about the Cayman Islands.  It is all about being jealous and just picking on a little dot of the Caribbean call Cayman, with intention only to destroy our stable economy.   A population of 55,000. nothing to export, no factories, yet they want to criple us and FOR WHAT?

    I take my hat off to Anthony Travers, and I repeat, give him your support in his approach to deal with this situation.  It is a grave one, whether we want to believe it or not, and every one will be efected.  Someone has to take the bull by the horn, So I say if it is Anthony Travers I say have some guts and stand beside him in this.  Anyone else can do any better, then take the Mike in hand and say "Hello"

    Now, Have we really asked ourselves why Cayman Financial Industry is late with a number of the inititatives.  Yes Why?   Figure it out!!!!! I do not have to say much more.  I sincerely hope the people of Cayman appreciate the move being taken to protect our image, and a memory comes to mind of a movie I once saw where a whole Town had  to be painted Red, to get the people,s attention.  Well if that is what it is going to take, I say "Buy the Paint"

  7. Richard Wadd says:

     About bloody time that someone CAPABLE did something !!

    Let’s hope that it will not be a case of ‘.too little, too late’.

     

  8. Anonymous says:

     No less than one would expect from a man of his standing and  integrity .