Travers gets traction in DC

| 23/05/2009

(CNS): The international PR onslaught initiated by the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association under the new chairmanship of Anthony Travers seems to be gaining traction after Travers appears to have got some key US officials to see Cayman in a new light. Pushing the message on Capitol Hill and to members of the Washington media that Cayman is committed to transparency, Travers has drawn some positive attention to the jurisdiction and says he intends to brief the new Cayman government on what needs to be done to keep up the pace.

On his trip to the United States capital, Travers shared details of CIFSA’s support for proactive reporting — and CIFSA’s concern about any approach that would use “lists” as tools to further tax policy — with legislative staff and Washington reporters for international news outlets. He conveyed important facts about the Cayman financial sector, including its strong and stable financial platform.

Travers said that many on Capitol Hill and in the Washington media had mistaken impressions of Cayman’s role in global markets. “I spent a great deal of time correcting the misperception of Cayman as a ‘tax haven’ and explaining in detail the nature of what actually occurs and how transactions are structured,” he explained. “In the United States, Cayman is clearly conflated with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the other countries that have little or no transparency and have not signed tax information treaties with the US or the EU. This is quite extraordinary given the comparative fact pattern.”

Travers said that he and a number of key US officials responsible for tax policy agreed to work cooperatively to develop a plan that would encourage transparency and further bi-lateral dealings between the two jurisdictions. Optimistic about the discussions in Washington, he added that he believed Congress would reject the idea of identifying any list of countries and territories whose tax and disclosure systems are inadequate to US needs and would instead focus on promoting reporting and transparency.

Travers said he plans to develop a more detailed initiative that would continue to provide accurate and up-to-date information to Washington decision makers and opinion formers.

“As the legislative process gains traction in Washington, I anticipate that the new government in Cayman will now adopt a far more engaged and proactive approach. I will be briefing the new minister fully as to what CIFSA regards now as the appropriate and immediate course of action. Preliminary understandings have been established in Washington, and in that respect I am pleased with what has been achieved in a short space of time.”

He said that legislators would be kept fully informed about the suggested transparency developments in Cayman on a timely basis. “Provided the government adopts certain specific measures, I believe that the prospective US legislation will not target Cayman,” the CIFSA chair said.

“It is simply a question of improving the understanding and then introducing legislative enactments that corroborate the story. But we need to get ahead of the curve on this issue and stop playing catch up.”

Travers also held a number of meetings with renowned tax academics and hopes to promote the publication of opinion pieces that will be fully supportive of the Cayman position and help deal with what he said were misperceptions.

Category: Business

Comments (39)

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  1. Anonymous says:

     So  what is the Cayman Government going to do – clearly they need someone like Travers to fight our corner – 

    So why dont they come out an offer him some sort of official position that way he can speak on our behalf as there is nobody in the Govt qualified to do so – I am not trying to be insulting but this is a very specialised role and we need someone who has credability/ experience in this area . Travers without a doubt ticks all the boxes –

    Lets show the US / EU Cayman means business and appoint Travers in some official capacity – though in fairness he may not want that type of role  

     

  2. Anonymous says:

    Quinn Gillespie & Associates need to be fired.  Clearly they cannot be trusted to properly advance our interests when they publicly insult the very Cayman representative that is  instructing them.  I support Tony’s approach – the time for tiptoeing around is long over.

  3. Anonymous says:

     I would focus on what Travers says not what the ill informed  say about him. He was right on the OECD, right on the FATF ,right on the EUSD  and since he has been brought back by CIFSA he has been right  again and with policy makers not power brokers. He says he is to brief the Minister .Lets see what CIG do next

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is good to know that Mr. Travers is working to correct all misinformation regarding Cayman. Here is a URL for one of most vocal detractors in relation to Cayman’s financial services sector and an entity that actually seems to have at least some traction. As a matter of fact they even took a shot at CIFSA and Mr. Travers today. Have at them Tony and keep us informed of your progress please as otherwise we will only here it from them…. http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/  

  5. First, thank you to those who have expressed their support of our recent efforts — (those by CIFSA and those appearing under my name.)  

    As you clearly know, false information concerning the Cayman Islands’ financial system is currently being spread through the international news cycle and on the Internet by private interest groups and others. Here at the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association (CIFSA) we’re working tirelessly to correct that information.
     
    The Cayman Islands is not a “tax haven” ; our financial system operates under full transparency. In fact, the Cayman Islands has comprehensive agreements and treaties in place with both the U.S. (Tax Information Exchange Agreement) and EU (the EU Savings Directive) that prevent tax evasion.
     
    We are now aggressively campaigning across a wide array of international sources to correct any and all misinformation regarding the state of financial affairs in the Cayman Islands. Please visit us at http://www.caymanfinances.com to learn more about what we’re doing.
  6. Anonymous says:

     You raise a good point What has the London Office achieved? But surely now European issue is firmly in the grip of the OECD.Agreed we cannot rely on the UK Govt for any support .So delegation to London to see who? It seems to me that the only question with the OECD is how many treaties Cayman can now sign .That must be the first order of business for CIG.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the full article may have given a more balanced view of what  the staffer actually was refering  to  . 

     

     

     

     

    Island Tax Haven Looks For Respect

    With President Obama pledging to crack down on offshore tax havens, it was no surprise that the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association — in one of the most popular havens — would hire a Washington lobbying firm to look after its interests. The firm it picked is Quinn Gillespie & Associates, run by former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn.

    But while Quinn Gillespie has a reputation for effective — and quiet — diplomacy on its clients’ behalf, its Caribbean client seems interested in anything but quiet.

    In reality, the association’s chairman, Anthony Travers, says, it’s the reputation of the Caymans that U.S. officials, led by President Obama, have unfairly maligned. “We have been used,” he says. “Everyone here is disillusioned and frustrated that the correct story is being so badly mauled.”

    Travers says a bill in the Senate by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin , intended to keep U.S. companies from using offshore offices and accounts as a way to avoid taxes, would be “catastrophically damaging to U.S. interests.”

    A remark by Obama this month — that a single Caymans office complex listed as the official home of 12,000 businesses is “either the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam in the world” — in Travers’ view “really beggars belief.” In reality, he argues, the islands have long had a cooperative relationship with U.S. authorities, and illegal tax evasion is nearly impossible — although, he says, some companies do maintain a Cayman address in order to legally avoid some federal taxes.

    “It’s lawful, legal, and it’s the law of your land,” says Travers, whose association’s members include accounting firms such as KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers. “How anyone can talk of it in terms of moral opprobrium is to me extraordinary.”

    Quinn Gillespie helped Travers publicize a sternly worded letter to the president on the subject, and the firm says his views should be taken in context. “He doesn’t know anything about the United States,” says Patricia McMurray, a communications staffer with the firm, by way of explaining Travers’ tough talk. “He lives on an island with 45,000 people. They are all down there feeling they’ve been attacked. When President Obama calls you out on national TV, that’s a big deal in the Caymans.”

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  8. Anonymous says:

    There is a great quote from the PR firm that CIFSA hired that provides considerable insight into the supposed traction that we are all supposed to be impressed by:

    "Quinn Gillespie helped Travers publicize a sternly worded letter to the president on the subject, and the firm says his views should be taken in context. “He doesn’t know anything about the United States,” says Patricia McMurray, a communications staffer with the firm"

    http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=news-000003124897

    Can anybody say bull in a china shop?

     

     

    • Patricia McMurray says:

       

      In a call following an interview with the CQ, my words were no doubt imprecise.  What I intended to convey was merely that Mr Travers — indeed, all of us involved on behalf of the CI — do not understand the insistence of some in the US that the CI are a tax haven when in truth they are not.  It has nothing to do with ‘understanding the U.S.’, but rather with our bafflement that some in the States utterly ignore the full transparency the CIhas with U.S. tax authorities and seem to do so with the purpose of inaccurately and unfairly equating the CI with jurisdictions like Switzerland, which, because they are not transparent, can reasonably be characterized as tax havens.  The CI is not one – and those here in the US who speak so loosely of the CI are doing both the CI and US taxpayers a real injustice.
       
      • Anonymous says:

        Well, Ms. McMurray, that is not impression conveyed by CQ. I think you need to take that up with them or your words may hinder rather than help.   

        • Buice Milloy says:

          Well Mr Anonymous, maybe if you were not so eager to to jump to criticizing Mr Travers’ efforts you could have spent a little time getting your facts straight first before making a fool of yourself.

          • Anonymous says:

            Buice Milloy, just for clarity I am not the anonymous who pointed out the CQ article, but how exactly is pointing out that article and the impression it gives "making a fool of yourself"? This firm is supposed to be lobbying on our behalf but the article does not help us in that respect. Should we live in a fool’s paradise that the whole world is suddenly perceiving us differently because Mr. Travers went to Washington and spoke to some powerbrokers?  

            • Buice Milloy says:

              Indeed, the comment was supposed to reply to Anonymus of Tue, 05/26/2009 – 11:07, whose excerpt from that article was not supposed to point out the impression given by the article, rather to find a quote out of context to make Mr Travers seem a fool.

              • Anonymous says:

                 Bruice, I am Anonymous of Tue, 05/26/2009 – 11:07.  I think you are referring to  Anonymous of Mon, 05/25/2009 – 19:35.

                Well it did have the merit of bringing the article to our attention, and I am afraid that it is the article rather than the poster which made Mr. Travers seem a fool.      

  9. Anonymous says:

     

    Is there going to be a delegation going to London to speak with the appropriate people with regards this matter.   Will it be a joint initiative between CIFSA & Cayman Govt – 

     

    something needs to be done quickly before Gordon sells us down the river to try and protect his own shortcomings 

    • Anonymous says:

      Delegation to london…

      Now that we have Mrs Dilbert back in Cayman and don’t have to worry about her salary committments, can we close the London Office which was created only to give dear old Tom Russell a job and has done absolutelty nothing to help Cayman ever since its beginning. Please someone do this, it’s costing a fortune and doing NOTHING, NOTHING and has done NOTHING NOTHING for years and years.

  10. Anonymous says:

     I assume that CIFSA has UK Govt on their radar  , however due to the current turmoil re the expenses scandal any attempt to move the cayman islands up the political agenda where the issues can be addressed will be extremely difficult . 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  11. annonymous says:

    From what I have ascertained from this whole Grey List fiasco is that who cares what the US thinks or threatens to do.  They need to do something about their own messed up Govt. and country.  Half their policitians are corrupt and indictments are being filed everyday against past or current politicians. 

    We are loosing our focus here people, the problem we have to deal with is that tea drinking idiot of Gordon Brown over their sitting high on his potatoe crate boxes pointing his stubby fingers down here at us while the mixer is stirring in his own septic tank next too him.

    We have to focus on the UK people.  So for all the experts who feel that the US is our greatest threat, WRONG!!! Look across the pond people, the UK is our greates threat.  If that disliked PM of Gordon Brown who can’t even get his people to like him anymore does something serious enough to us we are going to be feeling more pressure than we can even begin to imagine.

    We need to straighten out that Johnny Walker Gin drinking fool over there first then we can get a better grip of things with the US Govt.

    Despite all that Travers feels that he has to do or want to do, thanks for your input, but where the diggons were you years ago when all this was mounting up on the then mole hill which is now a bubbling mud hill filled with so much fecal matter just waiting to explode. 

    I cannot say that Travers is our saving grace and would certainly not label him as such because that is all he would want to fuel his ego on this matter.  And don’t forget for one minute that Obama named a building here during his campaign which is just next door to his.  I am sure he has all the names of the buildings, but that’s all Obama has got is NAMES. 

    Lets get to the root of the real source and be realist about the situation, PM Gordon Brown is our major threat and if we keep overlooking this point we are all going to suffer the consequences of our own stupidity.  Don’t be distracked and blame Obama.  Or worse enemy right now is our own mother and father.  That is the UK Government.

     

    CNS: please post this as so many people are being dragged off the beaten path to the wrong direction on this matter.  They are being blindsided to believing this all has to do with Obama.  Tell you what try and get an interview with the US Foreign Affairs ambassador or Commerce Secretary, they will see you I promise you they will see you and they will answer your questions.  If you don’t find that ALL they have is names then you can report differently on their findings.

  12. Anonymous says:

     I wonder if the Govt will look to appoint Tony in some official capacity as I cant think of anyone who is as qualified as him .We are by no means out of the woods however there does appear to be a glimmer of hope since he took the bull by the horns .  

    Lessons must be learned from recent years which led us into this situation  – its about time we appointed an industry heavyweight / expert as a Govt advisor –  afterall this industry is critical to the future success of Cayman – we need someone who has a thorough understanding and I for one dont see anyone from present Govt line up qualified to undertake this type of role

     

     

  13. Simon says:

    What a shame all these commentators are more interested in pointing fingers and laying blame for the errors of the past.

    WHAT HAPPENED, HAPPENED!

    Get over it, move on, and give credit where it is dueto the people trying to fix it now, rather than being so concerned over who messed up in the past.

    I fully support the CIFSA and their efforts to change perceptions in Washington DC – Good work Mr. Travers!

    Lets hope Slim Mac agrees and we all move forward together.

  14. Anonymous says:

    great to see tony helping out. I do agree with a couple of the earlier posts though that this story is way out there as far as the claims being made. The idea that cayman has misperception issues and that we need to work in washington to address it is at least 10 years old. and this is certainly not the first time someone went top washingon to lobby. and most certainly the idea of working with or supporting "pro offshore" academics has been pushed for years but frowned upon by those who only recently have started to realise its importance duting this state of panic…. It is wierd how something that has been said by many before is now "new and bold" because a different personaility is now saying it. There is no proof that there is any such traction. that said anything that travers or anyone else can do to help is good for our country and we must respect him and others for thir efforts.  we must contineu tio throw our support behind tony and others..but lets not start throwing around accolades just yet…as soemone suggested earlier, the timing of this story is no coincidence…there is some "PR" in this story as well…

  15. Anonymous says:

    I sincerelybelieve that almost 100 percent PR initiatives taken by companies(directly or indirectly) are acutally involved in dirty business. There’s no reason for this tiny Caribbean islands make any difference. Stay low-profile should be the best way to get tangible results for those targeted. If not, you’d better think over the real reasons under the surface.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Mr Travers will no doubt be flattered to hear that you can obtain a BA majoring in his personality. 

  17. Anonymous says:

     

     




    As someone who just recently returned to Cayman from universityand someone who would like a future in financial services, I am glad that Mr. Travers is not relying exclusively on his own personality and is looking to academics to provide support for Cayman. I understand that Mr. Travers is well known in Cayman, but I am afraid that outside of Cayman his assertions probably mean nothing to anybody of significance. People elsewhere want facts which have been checked and validated by independent experts not stories told by people who are seen as having a vested interest. 

     

    I am concerned that the article seems to suggest that Mr. Travers wants a one off quick fix from the academics he has contacted rather than a long term solution to the misunderstanding of the role of the Cayman Islands in financial services. I hope that I am wrong in this interpretation. A long term solution would involve an ongoing programme of assisting world class academics to understand the role of the Cayman Islands and to write favourably about Cayman’s financial services sector.  Had that been done for the past 20 years it is unlikely that we would now find ourselves in such a mess with Mr. Travers scrambling to find someone credible to write something positive about Cayman long after we have come under attack.  As I learned at university, our enemies and our competitors have been smart enough to produce hundreds of academic articles and books over many years which attack Cayman and other countries which they call tax havens. These articles and books which are used to teach students serve to influence politicians and their aides who ultimately draft legislation, when they are in university and long afterward. Had our governments or our private sector thought ahead just a little, and invested in academic work which supports our financical services,  the current problems may have been avoided. I wonder if there is anyone in our financial services sector who is actually thinking beyond their next bonus these days?

     

     

     
  18. Anonymous says:

    I am disappointed that there is not much of an objective assessment of the claims reported in this article although I have to congratulate CNS for being a bit cautious about what was being claimed in the first paragraph.  

    I would like to claim the credit for ensuring that the sun continues to rise in the east and that the fact that it will do so tomorrow is all down to my powers of persuasion, my superior connections, and my traction in Washington. Sounds about right so bring on the applause and please make sure that the government does whatever I say from now on.  

    Before we put up another statue in heroes square, where is the evidence of the supposed traction? Where is the evidence that these people have any influence on anything one way or the other? Where is the evidence that whatever influence exists is being used to benefit Caymanians.

    The timing of all of this is too much to be coincidence.  We have a new government eager to do things. We also have a recession coming to an end. Undoubtedly as the financial services sector begins to recover as it is already starting to do in the US, some will be tempted to claim that it is all down to their superior skills of persuasion or their connections in Washington.  And some of our politicians might just believe it.

    On the assumption that objective information regarding Cayman is being presented to anyone in Washington, even if it is only the servers at a fast food restaurant near the airport, then well and good. However, where is the evidence that those who claim to have influence actually have the influence inferred. All we have seen so far is that if you spend enough money you can get your name mentioned in a few papers. So what. Anyone willing to throw money around can get their name in the paper but that does not mean that they are persuading anybody of anything other than that they are throwing money around. Look at the piece in the UK’s Guardian newspaper today. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/8521759

    Where is the evidence that Senator Levin’s listing approach to improving tax collection, which seems to be great threat that was referred to, was ever going to happen? There is none and it does not take much traction to make sure that something that was never going to happen doesn’t happen. 

    Where is the evidence that whatever it is that CIFSA wants government to do will improve the lives of Caymanians and not just the rich few in the financial services firms?

    What is it that CIFSA hopes to get out of this new arrangement with government and who is looking out to ensure that whatever it is, is good for all Caymanians. Those of us who are not senior partners in the companies and firms paying for this PR exercise have not done particularlywell out of non-transparent backroom deals between the financial services bigshots and government in thepast.  I am still waiting for that trickle down to get to me and I suspect that if there is anything to trickle down it must get blocked by all the deals and smoke and mirrors that happen higher up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear disappointed no objective assessment,

      Thank God there is at least one other balanced, perceptive person on this thread. 

  19. Anonymous says:

    Now that things appear to be underway with regards US –  

    What are CIFSA intending to do with regards UK Govt  

     

     

     

  20. Anonymous says:

    Yea seven agreements with nobody that matters.  Please.  You must be a PPM supporter to say this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually Mr. Tibbett’s govt.negotiated 8 agreements, the first one in 2001 with the US before Mr. Bush became LOGB.  The 7 agreements are with the following NordicDenmark, Sweden, Finalnd, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands Countries. You may be interested to know that territories who made it on the white list, like Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man, also signed agreements with the same 7 Nordic Countries and these were taken into account to put them on the white list. Bermuda also signed up with the same 7 countries in April after it was placed on the grey list along with Cayman.

      Whenever anyone points the facts that don’t quite fit the UDP storyline out comes the line "you must be PPM supporter". You are so partisan that you cannot acknowledge the accomplishments of anyone other than your party. God please rid of these parties.     

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’ll take credit for this.  I sent the link of Travers’ letter to my friend, the Prez.  Thank you. Thank you very much.

  22. Anonymous says:

    If this istrue, it’s great news!  I’m no conspiracy theorist but is it just too convenient to anyone else that Travers comes out with this great news a few days after the elections.  I mean could he really have timed his trip that perfectly.  Perhaps he believes that the new Government will be more helpful in making sure that the financial services industry gets to fill its roster with whoever they want for as long as they want, as opposed to "just" seven years.  I wonder what other great news will come out this week – "Employment on the rise!","Government  Accounts are now up to date!" & "Mount Trashmore is really just a small hill!"  

  23. Anonymous says:

    One reason why the big hitters kept their mouth shut is because the PPMstill thought all was just fine in Cayman.  They were so arrogant that they thought they knew everything.  Just look at the person they put as Chairman of CIMA – Alden McLaughlin’s cousin, whom we haven’t heard a peep from all this time.  We have heard more from the former chairman in a week that what this man has said since he took over.  What a shame and I hope the UDP remove him before the banking industry goes further down the drain.

  24. Caymanian to the bone says:

    Put simply, if the PPM Government was not asleep at the wheel for so long, we would have not been at the lost that we are presently are. Thank God in the interim, people like Anthony Travers and CIFSA were not and took some action to lessen the impact that we are now experiencing.

    Just watch so see how "Small Mac" deals aggressively with Washington concerning the Cayman Islands being on the "grey list" and I bet in 6-9 months time we will be "white as snow" on the white list . Just watch Cayman, just watch and see how "Small Mac" deals with the situation at hand. If you want a negotiator on your side, the man from "Old Bush" in West Bay is the man to get’s the job done without delay !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      By the way, we in West Bay now refer to the Mac as "Slim Mac", so feel free to call him that.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Interesting that it took this long for the big hitters in the financial industry to get involved. I presume that the amount of revenue being lost finally became significant to them. Shame that they took this long, because it is really their revenue that is of interest to them. Hopefully they will now remain fully engaged and spend their funds to do the industry promotion that they should have been doing all along instead of keeping their cash and letting Govt. spend ours.

  26. Knal N. Domp says:

    Good on yer, Tones!

    Now is as good a time as any to name or call the Cayman Islands by its correct, title- a Territory. Let’s all dropthe other monikers that reer variously to ‘tax haven’, ‘jurisdiction’, ‘country’ etc. etc. From now on, and until we finally elect indepence, let’s all accept that we are a Territory and call ourselves such. It will help dilute the ‘taint’ of the dubious financial practises that have come to define ourplace in the sun.

    • Anon says:

      I read the article with interest and much as I support the efforts being I but did not see anything that constituted real evidence of progress.  What "traction" exactly? Had precisely the same words been mouthed by former Minister McLaughlin the Knal would have been the first to Domp on him as facile, inept or naive. Instead, Mr. Travers is receiving accolades and I am not clear that it is merited, at least not yet.    

      What on earth does being called a "territory" have to do with the issue? Do you really think they care since the ‘mother country’ is inviting the US to crush us?   

  27. Anonymous says:

    Look at the big difference one man can make – and yet the PPM  made no meaninful impact on Washington.    What a shame – no wonder they were swept out!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously you have no grasp on the actual situation

      NO government has been very helpful to the financial sector even though they have been working for a LONG time to get this far with the US.

      The government, EITHER PARTY, does not have the connections or understanding needed to make these negotiations. Yet, to give PPM some credit, they were able to made SEVEN agreements because of their work with the FS. While seven may not seem like a significant number, that translates to SEVEN more than the UDP was able to the first time around.

       

      CONGRATS MR Travers, I hope that you are able tokeep up the fantastic work. We need a voice like you vouching for us.