‘Secrecy law’ days numbered

| 24/02/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman finance, legal system(CNS): The law which is often referred to as Cayman’s "secrecy law" will soon be replaced by a Data Protection Law, the attorney general has said. Describing the Confidential Relationships (Preservation) Law (CRPL) as “the bane of our existence since the 1970s”, Samuel Bulgin told the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday morning that a report had been submitted to Cabinet on 8 February examining the issues on the most appropriate type of Data Protection Act to suit the jurisdiction. Bulgin said the document would be discussed by Cabinet in two weeks paving the way for draft legislation for a bill that will replace the controversial CRPL.

The attorney general revealed the developments regarding the end of the CRPL during his tabling of an amendment to the Criminal Justice Law regarding the need to send voluntary witnesses overseas under the terms of mutual assistance treaty requests without breaching the terms of the CRPL as it currently stands.

Bulgin explained that at present if a witness from a financial organisation in Cayman was to voluntarily attend a legal proceeding overseas to present documents in evidence, as a result of a treaty request for an overseas investigation, the individual could fall foul of the CPRL hence the need to amend the Criminal Justice Law to override the CRPL.

Following a question from opposition member Alden McLaughlin about the progress in repealing the CRPL, Bulgin explained that some time ago Cabinet had established a task force to examine whether the law had outlived its usefulness. He said that at first consideration had been given to repealing the criminal or penal elementof the CRPL, which currently provides for the criminal prosecution of an individual who breaches the law, while simultaneously exploring a data protection law to replace it.

The attorney general told the Legislative Assembly that, with the involvement of David Archbold at the ICTA, a comprehensive report had now been completed about the suitable type of legislation and a decision had been made that, rather than reform the CRPL, the Data Protection law would be expedited instead.

The CPRL, or “secrecy law” as it has often been referred to, criminalizes the unauthorized disclosure of confidential corporate information, which has caused considerable controversy over the years and given rise to the global perceptions of banking secrecy in the Cayman Islands.

Although the CRPL also offers gateways for the release of information, it does so through the courts. During the last Caribbean Financial Action Task Force review of the Cayman Islands, the jurisdiction fell short of being fully compliant in a only a few areas one of which was the transfer of witnesses. Following the passage of the bill to amend the Criminal Justice Law so that witnesses will now not breach the CRPL should they voluntarily go to give evidence in person, the Attorney General said that Cayman could look forward to moving up the FATF ranking.

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Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    seize unclaimed assets………………….

    repeal of the law will enable cig to sieze all unclaimed bank deposits/assets……………..

    of course some disputes with country of origin…. but by the time that is all sorted out,  cig will have taken billions…..  erasing deficit…


  2. Anonymous says:

    Is that Cayman’s attorney general in the picture?  Sorry, I am just curious … I do not recall seeing him before.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The CR(P)L has been the bane of the legal profession’s existence for decades now.  It’s high time that this pointless and disfunctional legislation is repealed.  It does not serve the "old" purpose of helping on-shore people hide their off-shore affairs from prying eyes, since the information is routinely disclosed as a matter of course, but only after thousands and thousands of dollars are wasted in court applications, the outcome of which is already known. 

    The delay to comply with this law by making the court application only makes Cayman look like the lair of tax-evading criminals that everyone is trying so hard to show that we are not. 

    The law also does nothing to protect actual privacy interests of anyone, which God knows needs protection in Cayman’s indiscrete "Marl Road" rumour pipeline where everyone in Cayman "knows" everyone else’s business, even when it is completely made up and malicious BS (and you know what I am referring to, may that poor man forgive your evil tongues).

    Good riddance, and welcome to the 21st century.

    • Anonymous says:

      Undoubtedly there are those in the local legal community who have deluded themselves into believing that doing away with CRPL will somehow stop onshore politicians and bureacrats in organisations like the OECD and the EU bashing Cayman for their own ends. My suggestion to those who fall into that category – dream on. The existence or non-existence of CRPL will have no effect on the incidence of Cayman bashing.

      I am with those posters here who understand that a poorly designed data protection law would damage Cayman’s economy far more than CRPL ever did or ever could. I have seen no evidence of any public consultation on the proposed data protection legislation. 

      Hopefully this is not another of the FIRE READY AIM fiascos in the making. 

      • Just trust us when we say . . . says:

        It is about small steps to protect Cayman’s future role in international finance (which may, it is true, be beyond saving by now).  I have had to explain to costs and delays of CRPL andI can assure you that the ghastly law has caused significant harm to Cayman’s reputation with some of the world’s leading law firms and banks.  Will it save Cayman by itself? No.  Would it be better to get rid of it? Yes.  Have businesses in Jersey collapsed because of their law? No.

      • Anonymous says:

        In the preparation of any new legislation, a working group is comprised to research and recommend the first draft of whatever is to be considered. Following approval by the LA, the draft is then made available for consultation by the public. Once all comments from public consultation are compiled and changes are made to the initial draft so all interested parties and concerns are addressed as best possible, a final draft is submitted to the LA to be passed (or not). It seems most of you are jumping the gun to assume a data protection law is ready to be passed and implemented, whereas it hasn’t even reached the public consultation phase yet. Patience, my friend. You will have plenty of time to have your say in the matter.

  4. Anonymous says:

    In keeping with this government’s policy, there is of course no detail on what they are proposing.

    I have had to work with the implementation of Data Protection laws in several countries. Typically this type of legislation imposes huge costs on business – hopefully somebody outside of government is looking at this because this could be another disaster in the making. 

    Chamber of Commerce – have you looked at what this could do to your members?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Data Protection legislation can produce huge burdens for both business and government driving up costs for both. T

    hese $*%^ politicians just don’t get it. They need to get off their a$$es and write laws that punish criminals not honest hardworking business people. We don’t need any more laws that expand the civil service and causes more small business to go out of business. Our politicians have already done enough of that. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    This will be very bad news for many Hollywood screen writers and Mid-Western Democratic Senators. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    um… what is the freedom of information law then?

    • frank rizzo says:

      The Freedom of Information Law gives the public a new legal right to see or obtain copies of records held by public authorities in the Cayman Islands. 

      Has little or nothing to do with the issue being discussed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, that’s discussed on a "need to know" basis only, and you don’t.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to go ahead and predict that the majority of people who comment on this article will not know what data protection legislation actual entails. See the comment made Wed, 02/24/2010 – 18:29 for a great example of someone who has no idea what they’re talking about and just assumes disaster because CRPL (an outdated concept) is overruled by more adequate legislation for the 21st century and record/data management, collection and distribution.

    • Violent Carnivore says:

      A complete lack of understanding has never stopped a poster expressing their views on this site, especially if the view is to uphold the long-term local stauts quo.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can’t see that comment – it’s been removed by the thought police.

      CNS: No, you just can’t be bothered to look properly. Here it is.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Bye-Bye Cayman!! Next will be the devaluation of the Almighty Cayman Dollar.  Financial Industry….See you in my next life. Back to fishing and chicking catching!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    And so it begins…. the wrecking crew are moving in and the balls will soon be swinging

    • Anonymous says:

      Wrecking crew – certainly. However, there are no balls associated with what is going on just as there are no brains.

    • Patricia X says:

      You obviously don’t have a clue about the harm CRPL does to Cayman.