Travers calls author of ‘tax haven’ book an ‘imbecile’

| 12/01/2011

(CNS): The chair of Cayman finance has called Nicholas Shaxson, the author of a new book on tax havens, an imbecile in an interview with Cayman’s local television news channel. Anthony Travers hit out at the book, Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World, and its author saying that the work demonstrates no more than an 11-year-old’s understanding of off shore finance. The chair of the country’s financial industry body suggested that Shaxson’s position came from the politics of envy. “I don’t know what he’s talking about and furthermore he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Travers said of Shaxson.

“There are always going to be the politics of envy. Now the politics of envy are exacerbated by imbeciles who don’t actually understand what’s going on in the Cayman Islands,” he added.

Travers told Cayman 27 that is it’s a fiction that Cayman is a tax haven or a magnet for illicit transactions. While impossible to eliminate in their entirety, he said there are places where money laundering or tax evasion are easier and Cayman isn’t one of them. “There are simply jurisdictions where it would be more sensible to perpetuate your fraud or money laundering than the Cayman Islands,” Travers stated.

In reply, Richard Murphy from the NGO Tax Justice Network, the organization of which Shaxson is also a member, said Travers’ argument might be more credible if he didn’t resort to words like "imbecile" or suggest that every criticism of Cayman "is the politics of envy".

Shaxson also responded and said that Travers had refused to talk to him when he came to the Cayman Islands. He challenged the Cayman Finance chair to explain in detail why his full arguments in the book are wrong but noted that he did not think Travers had actually read the book.

“To be honest, it heartens me that my critics feel they have to resort to name-calling and misrepresentation to try and knock me down. I now await some real arguments,” Shaxson said.

Go to the Treasure Islands book website

Go to Cayman27 video

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Business

Comments (45)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Caymanite says:

    Having sat on both sides of many TV interviews, I can assure you that the 2 minutes presented in the Cayman 27 piece were likely distilled from about an hour’s worth of discussion and taping. Indeed, most of the good stuff that people give in interviews suffers execution from the editor’s pen.  If you really want to find out what Tony has to say, read his many articles – they hit the point precisely and make no apologies. It is refreshing to read his work or hear him speak because he just calls it as he sees it and he is surgically precise in his conclusions. 

    This book is not yet available on this side of the world, so it would be no surprise if Travers has not read it.  After reading the excerpts, however, it is quite clear to me that the author does not have a clue what he is talking about – so why would anyone read further?   If he is offended at being labeled an imbecile, perhaps he should not extend lies, exaggerations and misinformation as fact.  Shaxson is okay telling the world that Cayman is full of thieves and crooks, yet he is upset when someone identifies him for what he is?  sounds like someone who lives in glass houses ought not throw stones.

  2. My2Cents says:

    It seems Nicholas Shaxson is going about this the wrong way around.

    I would like to see Nicholas Shaxson actually attempt to set up an offshore structure and attempt to use to evade taxes. Be interesting to see how far he got with it.

    Of course he would need to do the same thing in each of the offshore jurisdictions, and also the major onshore jurisdictions.

    THEN write a book pointing fingures.

    • Anonymous says:

      My2cents, a BBC reporter did this a couple of years ago, with a list of about 40 jurisdictions, starting with the most difficult and ending with the easiest in terms of setting up an account. The resulting list was in the reverse orderof what  the popular press would have you believe.  In other words, places like New York and London were the easiest to deal with, whereas the Cayman Islands was one the most difficult. Point proved that we have generally an unfair press that finds us an easy target for their prejuidices.

  3. Anonymous 8 Year Old says:

    I know you are but what am I?

  4. noname says:

    It’s so pathetic that "New York and London do it too!" is the favorite comeback line used by the defenders of Cayman’s role in international tax cheating/avoidance.

    We should have just stuck to scuba diving and the old Turtle Farm. At least we would have our dignity.

  5. Yo Mama says:

    Travers’ words are misleading. He always frames his standard rebutals to deny the old-time tax dodgers and money laundering guys with the suitcases full of cash who used to fly here. He knows, however, that the real objection to Cayman’s sleazy role in international finance is that we aid wealthy people and corporations in the LEGAL avoidance of paying taxes. Who XXX would defend a system that has a middleclass family with a mortgage and a couple of kids in college pay a significant amount in taxes while a corporation making billions pays NO taxes?

    The US economy is a rigged game and Cayman is in on the fix. It’s tax evasion made legal by the XXX Republicans in the US (accomodated by the incompetence of Democrats). They changed US laws so that they and their donor friends could ship their cash to places like Cayman and leave the burden of paying taxes to others. By any reasonable moral standard it’s still wrong, even if it’s legal.

    Wait a few years and we’ll see how Cayman looks when people finally figure out that hedge funds are yet another rotten game that screws the rest of us down the line. We are neck deep in that too and it won’t look good. But I’m sure Mr. Travers will defend our good name.

    • Corporate Satan says:

      Sadly the ‘screaming liberal’ attitude of Yo Mama is becoming more prevalent in Cayman. I smell a little hypocracy here

      When Yo Mama goes shopping in Miami does she insist on paying the full inport duty on what she brings back or does she take advantage of the tax break the law allows her on the first $375 of goods?  Surely every Cayman resident has the moral obligation to go ahead and pay the full duty and not take advantage of this legal tax break.  Shame on all of you!

      If Yo mama is American what does she think of the millions of her fellow citizens that make use of the many legal tax deductions provided by the government. Surely it is their moral obligation to pay as much tax as possible.  The reality is that over half of all income earning americans pay absolutely no income taxes at all.

      Yo mama, if you are Caymanian you must be incensed by the blatant illegal tax dodging by hundred of your countrymen that goes on every day and has for years (in the form of unpaid garbage fees and hospital bills and even unpaid pension contributions). 

      Or should morality only apply to evil companies?  People should get a free pass and even be encouraged to freeload.  Why should companies acting legally have to bail out governments and their citizens who have overspent and cant afford to pay their bills due to their poor money management skills?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately the above comment appears more and more to be true!

  7. + says:

    Prior to my recent retirement, I worked for many years at a very senior level for a large global investment management group (not based in Cayman)with assets managed worldwide. I can speak from experience, Cayman is today not what it was twenty years ago. It is a disciplined and well governed jurisdiction from a regulatory point of view and holds to high ethical standards in matters of governance and progressive commerce. Cayman standards, in my view, exceeds many competitive jurisdictions.

    I encourage all, but in particular Cayman’s government leaders, to move this country faster and further ahead by investing adequate resources to develop a more positive global image for this country. Cayman’s global financial  brand is presently somewhat  tainted, unfairly perhaps within today’s reality. There are many senior level decision makers in other countries who are judging Cayman today based on old information, outdated opinions and negative bias based on incorrect information. Sometimes the ignorance displayed by these well paid decision makers is shocking, but the blame is not soley on their shoulders. Global financial companies have many options available to them when selecting financial service support.  It is the responsibility of Cayman’s leaders and all those within the local business community and each and every person enjoying the fruits of this great country to educate the world about Cayman’s competitive advantages.

    Negative characters can dwell on Cayman’s recent increase in crime, its garbage management problems, its budget stresses and so on. People, these are not exclusive challeges to Cayman. Cayman has the advantage of size, it can be nimble. Cayman has access to exceptional globally experinced talent to lead advancement in favored pillars of this economy. With a focus on growth, a spirit of oneness and a continued and even enhanced commitment to highest standards in ethical conduct, Cayman can be a model others hold as a benchmark to which they aspire.


    • Anon says:

      Who is the idiot who gave a "thumbs down" to this rather brilliant post?

      • Anonymous says:

        09:29 Obviously its some idiot who cannot read.

      • Anonymous says:

        That would probably be the same ones who are posting excerts from the book and posting rather too punctualy correct comments in support of the same. They are rather obvious if you read all the comments.

        I know a bit of what happens in finance here and I’m afraid it’s not something that would hold my attention in a book for more than a few minutes.

        I must confess I haven’t read the book, and I don’t have any immediate plans to. But the hyperbole in the story is amusing and the challenge to Travers to read and critique the book are a cheap shot at trying to get a free peer review done, maybe for a re-write or something to pick apart later?

        Agreed he should perhaps have constructed a better come back than name calling, but sometimes you have to call it as you see it!


  8. Anonymous says:

    One book review

    A brilliant expose of tax havens and tax avoidance.Quite topical with all these tory types not paying their fair share but be warned this book is bad for your blood pressure if you are one of the unfortunates who do pay your fair share in taxes. Its frightening how little the rich contribute to the countries they make their money from.Murdoch’s companies pay about 6% tax in Britain,which shows what a parasite he is.Every honest tax payer should read this book.

    • IRON CLAD says:

      " Its frightening how little the rich contribute to the countries they make their money from."  And talk about just how BLISTERING this fact is to the section of the brain that produces vengeance and vigilantes.

      "Every honest tax payer should read this book." – Maybe that would stir up a good case of Anarchy which would be excellent for a change.

      IRON CLAD… You have no idea!

      • Braccer says:

        It is quite ironic how the very next Local News article is:


        "Bank boss denies using Cayman for tax evasion"




      • Twyla Vargas says:

        "Its frightening how little the rich contribute to the countries they make their money from?"  Iron Clad,  I wish I could honestly support your comments where Cayman is concerned.

        But I still feel that if it was not for the Rich Man’s Dollar, Cayman would still be in the dark ages. The dollar seeps through the Cayman soil one way or the other. Old-timers yes had their share and started the ball rolling but trust me the expatriates "Kept it on the field".  I am a Caymanian to the bone, born and bred and our few rich Caymanians can be counted on one hand.  The other hand and foot is expatriate Caymanians who kept the ball on the field rolling.  I hope we can appreciate and embrace each other’s efforts in this 2011.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hm. I thought embecile was a polite way of putting it….

    Just tired of everyone attacking Cayman without true knowledge and all of the facts.

    The US is a tax haven so why can’t there be others?

    What was that saying?  ‘politics of envy’?  True dat!!


  10. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps Mr Travers suffers from that tropical illness of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’.

  11. expat weirdo says:

    Maybe you can argue that there is no money laundering here… but how can you argue that there is no tax evasion? Why else would someone have money hidden offshore? (and please don’t give me the litigation answer)

    Sorry I know a lot of people with money offshore and its to evade taxes (duh)

    I’m sorry but Travers is the complete imbecile.


    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks to the TIEAs signed by EVERY jurisdiction in the world (there are currently no territories on the OECD Blacklist), your buddies are looking at big disgorgements or perhaps prison by 2015.  

      Cayman is a strategic tax neutral jurisdiction.  That does not release account holders from their obligations at home.

      • expat weirdo says:

        Yes thanks to all those ridiculous treaties that have been signed no one smart is banking in the Caymans. Panama, Seychelles, etc are much better jurisdictions.

        I can’t wait till the banking system here comes crashing down here as it is well deserved. I am sorry for the people who will lose their jobs, but not for the politicians or bank managers who caused this.

        Trust me anyone who knows about the white lists is not banking here.



        • Anonymous says:

          Now you have twisted the matter so that those jurisdictions who are still in engaged in tax evasion and money laundering are "better jurisdictions" than Cayman.

          • Anonymous says:

            This guy is uninformed.  There are NO COUNTRIES on the OECD Blacklist. The spirit of cooperation (globally) in regards to Taxation has radically shifted in the last 24 mos.  Even Panama and Seychelles have agreed to drop their drawers.  IRS has a satellite office in Panama!  We can only hope he is not out there dispensing his global savvy to real clients.

    • Twyla Vargas says:

      Can hiding all your money under your mattress and not taking it to a bank be called Tax Evasion too?  If the answer is yes, then Tax evasion has  been going on here and other parts of the world for a very long time.  If not then how can we apply tax evasion.

  12. Anonymous says:

    No wonder Travers supports McDinejad. Birds of a feather !!!

    Travers’ childish "11 year old" response will not serve us well and will give those who are targeting us a further challenge to attack us over and over and over again………we better check to see who Travers really is working for !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Remember where he’s from !

  13. nauticalone says:

    Travers response here sounds like Cayman’s other Premier Leader….juvenile and bullying!

    • No comprende says:

      Travers response?

      I did not understand one word that man said!


    • Anonymous says:

      Oh for Petes sake una stop it.  I only do hope Travers realize that it is not Caymanians againrt him.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Quote from the book, so accurate it hits like a punch in the belly:

    "There is something about island life that stifles dissent. In the island goldfish bowl, you cannot hide. The ability to sustain an establishment consensus and suppress troublemakers makes islands especially hospitable to offshore finance, reassuring international financiers that local establishments can be trusted not to allow democratic politics to interfere in the business of making money."


    • Anonymous says:

      Dissenting sentiments are everywhere, filling these commentaries daily. Unfortunately the dissenting comments seem to originate from either:

      A) a well-meaning transient population that would like to affect positive change but are powerless to do so.  Or…

      b) qualified voters that can’t be bothered to get organized and affect change themselves (perhaps employed by the gov’t that might can them)

      This is not by some sinister design, it’s just the way it is on a small island community, and fully disclosed to everyone who decides to come here. This guy concludes incorrectly that this is all part of some big evil master plan, and that is just sad!  


      • Anonymous says:

        Please,15.04, ‘affect’ and ‘effect’  have different meanings.

        • Anonymous says:

          Grammar 23:01
          Affect is a verb, used correctly as in, to “have an influence upon”.  Effect is a noun. 

          • Anonymous says:

            When you wrote, ‘to affect positive change,’ I presumed you meant, ‘to bring about positive change’, in which case you misused the word. Perhaps you really did mean, ‘to influence positive change,’ though it’s hard to see what that could possibly mean.

            Effect can be used as a verb, as in, ‘to effect positive change,’ which means to ‘bring about positive change.’ Presumably the posters who ‘thumbs-downed’  my original post lack a decent dictionary or forgot  to "Google it."


  15. Anonymous says:

    Looks horribly like foot firmly planted in mouth time for Mr Travers.

    Slagging people off without offering any counter-arguments only plays into the hands of the critics.

    Maybe he would have done better to cite –

          – and take note of the final paragraph.

    Mind you the critics might simply respond by arguing that the lack of prosecutions for money laundering in the Cayman Islands doesn’t actually mean that it isn’t happening.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Why are people who are at the most public positions unable to speak their minds without immature name calling which leaves them looking childish and foolish in the eyes of the world?

    Maybe it is the mosquito spray used around the island that breaks down the internal ability to offer opinions without schoolyard name calling.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It always amazes me that people can reside in Cayman for years, and still cling to those Hollywood portrayals of "evasion and secrecy" that persist, without actually taking the time to learn if those portrayals are accurate.  It is not the 1970s or 80s any more.  Take some time to update your preconceptions and learn what Cayman’s Financial Industry is all about, otherwise you too may find yourself sounding like an 11 year old.    

  18. Anonymous says:

    Another educated comment from people at the top on this Island for the world to consider.  Let’s hope he’s right on his facts or this could there could be a payout coming.  Don’t these people actually think?

  19. AnonBeliever says:

    "Doesn’t know what he is talking about" ???

    I am sure he does know. Even I know that there is a ‘System’ by which the RICH and ELITE rules the world and in due course we get to learn about the many thefts and fraudulence that takes place in the Financial / Investments markets every day and not excluding Cayman.

    In short… Everything ‘Money’ is all RELATIVE!

  20. Dred says:

    Please Mr Travers set this "imbecile" straight for us. We need people like you drawing the line in the sand for these pot shotters who find us easy to attack.

    Disect his book and show him for what he is. And while you are at it put Mr. Murphy in his place also.

  21. Anonymous says:

    to be honest…. not a great response from mr  travers…..kind of like the response of an 11 year old….

  22. Anonymous says:

    “To be honest, it heartens me that my critics feel they have to resort to name-calling and misrepresentation to try and knock me down. I now await some real arguments,” Shaxson said.

    Why can’t our Premier be that articulate in the face of criticism?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Tony, like McKeeva, prefers to berate rather than debate anyone who disagrees with him.