Travers departs job as Cayman’s defender

| 09/02/2011

(CNS):Updated 12:30pm –After two years of rebutting public criticisms of the Cayman Islands as a tax haven and secrecy jurisdiction, Anthony Travers is stepping down from the chairmanship of Cayman Finance. In a short announcement circulated by the London public relations firm Media House there were no details about why Travers is stepping down or who will replace him as cheerleader for the financial services sector. Later on Wednesday morning Cayman Finance issued a separate statement thanking Travers. Over the last two years Travers has been outspoken and controversial in his responses to the critics of the Cayman Islands and was the first representative of the sector to persistently and directly take on the international media, challenging the overseas image of Cayman as a centre for financial skulduggery.

Travers states that he was asked to take up the chairmanship of the financial sector’s industry body when public relations were at a low ebb.

“At the time the UK and US Governments were extremely hostile to the Cayman Islands and our financial system and the Cayman Islands were on the OECD Grey List, we were threatened by hostile US legislation and were subject to unjustified criticism from the UK and the EU,” Travers says.

“I have been pleased to lead the organisation and feel we have done a great deal over the last two years to counter our many critics and establish the truth about the Cayman Islands and the value it brings to international financial transactions and the global economy. Needless to say I wish Cayman Finance and the new chairman well in its continuing endeavours.”

In his more recent attacks on the critics of the offshore financial services industry Travers has referred to charities, NGOs and those on the left as the “Tax Taliban”. In his last blog on the Cayman Finance website Travers criticised the Financial Times for its suggestions that Ireland was taking fund business away from Cayman. The chair defended the sector and said the idea there was a fund exodus from Cayman to Ireland was a “load of blarney”.

Cayman Finance revealed in its own release that during "this transitional time," the board members will share directional responsibilities," and that an announcement regarding an interim Chairman was expected shorty.

The official explanation for Travers’ sudden departure was that the former chair wanted to "spend more time attending to his other business ventures and to spend time with his family," the release said.

Wishing him the best of luck in his future endeavours,Cayman Finance said it was grateful for his contributions to the country’s financial services industry.

"Cayman Finance board wishes to acknowledge the tremendous achievements made by Travers in the past two years as leader of the organisation.  Through this time, there have been critical international pressures placed on Cayman’s reputation and Travers has explained and defended Cayman’s position admirably," Cayman Finance stated adding that the organisation remained a strong, healthy and well-funded with the board directors from the jurisdictions leading financial companies staying put.

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  1. Annonymous says:

    There were at least two major achievements during Mr Travers tenure at Cayman Finance.

    1. It was a master stroke to take Premier McKeeva Bush and CIMA Chairman George McCarthy to meet the UK Conservative Party before the 2010 election. At that meeting, which was reported on CNS, it was agreed that should the Tories win the election, they would scrap the heavy handed approach taken by then Labour minister Chris Bryant and the unsympathetic civil servants at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Following the Tories win at the election, CIG were allowed to borrow the money they needed to help us balance the budget. Sadly, word is now reaching us that the FCO are up to their old tricks, but this time Mr Travers won’t be about to fight our case.

    2. Until Mr Travers took the helm at Cayman Finance both the UK and US media had declared open season on our country. Mr Travers immediately put a PR and political programme in place whereby journalists and their editors were challenged over misleading and inaccurate stories. This resulted in a new discipline amongst these journalists when addressing Cayman Islands’ issues.

    If these were the only two achievements during Mr Travers term in office they would be remarkable. He will be a very hard act to follow and we can only hope that Cayman Finance and its board will not lose momentum. If they do the Cayman Islands could suffer dreadfully.

    • The Conservative Party, like the Republican Party in the USA, is considered to be more pro-business and OFC-friendly than the Opposition. It goes without saying that a Conservative Government is better for OFCs than a Labour one. Any relaxation of the UK Government’s stance towards OFCs would undoubtedly be to reward the Conservative Party’s base (i.e. big businesses and high net worth individuals who have money offshore) than to do a favour for the Government of a jurisdiction that the UK (whichever party is in charge) does not even want as part of its Territory because of contingent liabilities of the tupe that saw the UK take over the Turks & Caicos Islands due to rampant corruption. It is incredibly naive to believe that McKeeva Bush or Cayman Finance can exert any meaningful influence over the UK Government.

      On your point regarding the media, you are delusional if you genuinely believe that that Cayman Finance has brought about “a new discipline amongst these journalists when addressing Cayman Islands’ issues”.

  2. Say it aint so says:

    Tim Ridley, Collin Shaw or Dr Richard Rhan would be a excellent replacement. Extremely bright minds!

  3. slowpoke says:

    Intelligent, technically competent, book
    smart, etc.?  Absolutely!

    Emotional intelligence, social competence, compassion,
    etc.?  Absolutely not!

    We need to find someone who has both
    competencies.

     

  4. David R. Legge says:

    Hate to be Solomonic about this, but I’ve got two good friends here—David Marchant (see posting below) and Tony Travers. I can’t reconcile Marchant’s opinion of Travers with mine, which is the opposite. I’ve known and worked with Tony Travers for years (we’re approaching "dozens").

    Yes, he’s arrogant, yes he’s difficult, and, yes, he’s got a huge ego, but, frankly, I’ve never met a true winner who doesn’t share those qualities. (By the way, David Marchant also has these same qualities; in what he does, he, too, is the best—fearless, passionate, incorruptible, and consummately tough). Maybe what’s at work here is that we have two "alpha-males" in the same arena. I don’t know.

    But what I do know is that few people have made a greater contribution to the Cayman Islands than Tony Travers. If I could afford his counsel (which, by the way, he gives away "pro bono" to government), I would never consider another. He’s the best, the most knowledgeable, and the most-effective attorney this island has ever seen.

    I’ll tell one quick story: Many years ago, I was doing a project with government to produce a high-quality brochure promoting the island’s financial services. As I recall, the Hon. George McCarthy was Financial Secretary at the time.

    The government’s oversight committee was large (and tiresome), but had to deal with a simple production matter: Whether we should add "gold foil" to the cover—it would add class, but also cost, to the project. The debate droned on and on and, if I recall, Travers, who was in the room, appeared bored and (perhaps more honestly) about to doze.

    He came back to consciousness and asked the key question: How much does it cost?

    I told him maybe $15,000.

    He told me, fine, he would pay for it himself. "Next issue . . . "

    Many people don’t know that Tony Travers used to be a fearless pugilist—a boxer. Opponents were always wary about getting into the ring with him. I don’t blame them. Tony could take a punch, and deliver a devastating counterpunch. He’s been doing that, metaphorically, for the Cayman Islands for so many years.

    Gold Medals to you, Tony (just as I wished them for your snow-skiing son, Dow, who represented Cayman in the last Winter Olympics).

    Thanks for your service and thanks for your friendship. I’ve been enriched by both . . .

    • David,

      I’m sure Mr. Travers has many talents and qualities. You don’t end up as a senior partner of a major law firm like Maples and Calder by accident. It’s easy for me to imagine that he is a tough, hard-working and formidable adversary in business and he is clearly highly intelligent.

      However, he has glaring deficiencies that make him wholly unsuitable to be the public face of, and spokesperson for, anything, let alone something as sophisticated, complex, sensitive and frequently-attacked as Cayman’s financial services industry. This is a job that requires immense people-skills and tact, which, unfortunately, seem to be among his biggest weaknesses. He was a round peg in a square hole (just like I would be in such a position but I know my strengths and weaknesses and would never take on such a role) and, as a result, he did intangible damage to the industry he represented through his boorish behaviour.

      What on earth was he thinking when he sanctioned a Cayman Finance press release in which someone was described as “Captain Underpants” and mocked apparently for no other reason than he was gay? Gratuitous insults were a recurring theme of press releases issued during his stint as chairman of Cayman Finance. It was so bizarre that, a few months ago, I actually considered writing an entire column to it in OffshoreAlert.

      By the way, working “pro bono” for government and dipping into his pocket to help them out with $15,000 might well breach anti-corruption laws in some countries. I’ll justassume you were speaking hypothetically or, if ever questioned on the matter, your memory is hazy and you can’t actually remember who it was or if it ever happened at all!

  5. Flavius says:

    I find it rather unusual that no replacement has been announced. Does the organization not have an assistant chairman who steps into his shoes? This suggests a lack of forward planning by Cayman Finance.

    • Anonymous says:

      They probably need another infusion of cash from the Premier before they can hold elections. lol.

    • Yea right! says:

      Must have smelt the rat!

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably another post the Premier himself is going to take over. At the end, he always knows best anyway and does as he pleases, never mind the recommendations he has received from various experts (why does the Premier needs advice, he is expert in any and every field anyway).

      Just makes you wonder why he spend about $1 mil on consultation fees etc………nah, thinking about it, it really doesn’t make me wonder……….

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t announce the new Chairman immediately if you want to make it look like the old one resigned.

      However, Tim Ridley squaring off against anyone publicly is a pretty big clue.  He has kept a low profile up till now since his untimely departure from CIMA.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I guess he has found that batting his head again the government wall here is more than he wants to have to deal with – too bad he’s going because he always says it like it is.

    • Anonymous says:

      Never was a fan of Tony’s or his style. Found him unfailingly discourteous and confrontational and as a result largely ineffective.  He is very bright but you need more than near genius to navigate that difficult world of international regulation. Some diplomacy would not be misplaced. But i can’t help but wonder why he departed so suddenly.  Coupled with Jude Scott’s resignation, not just as chairman of Cayman Aiways Board of Directors but from all goverment appointments, the government must be reeling.  One can’t help but wonder what’s going on.

      • Anne on a Moose says:

        I think your post gets it about right. No doubt about his intellect, but that doesn’t mean he was effective in the role. Tony alienated many by his manner (incredibly arrogant) and his over-the-top English accent. His former partner Tim Ridley is far more diplomatic and approachable, and here’s hoping we can convince him to take over the reins.

  7. Mr. Travers’ stint as Chairman of Cayman Finance has been an embarrassment to the jurisdiction’s financial services industry.

    I can’t think of a more juvenile, unsophisticated and ineffective head of any professional organization in my 26 years as a journalist.

    He seemed intent on alienating people (for no apparent reason) to the disadvantage of the industry he was representing.

    In terms of a possible replacement: Tim Ridley is a far more sophisticated, convincing and effective advocate of Cayman’s financial services industry than Mr. Travers. I cannot understand why Cayman doesn’t make more use of him. He is Cayman’s equivalent of Bermuda-based David Ezekiel, who has been an extremely credible and effective spokesperson for Bermuda’s insurance sector for many years.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Tony for a job well done. Being direct and outspoken ruffled some feathers, but the effect was good.

  9. Anonymous says:

    A wise move by Cayman Finance. Hope its not too late to repair all of the damage that has been done. We shall see ! XXXX

  10. Wally says:

    Served us well Tony, Thank you

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for a job well done, Tony!! It’s going to be hard to fill his shoes.

     

  12. Twyla says:

    I would like to say thank you to Tony Travers for a job well done. I do hope he has other portions in the pot which will continue to defend the Cayman Islands against outside evil eyes. After all this is your home, and it is a true saying, that one never fails until they stop trying

  13. GH says:

    Wow… this is scary who will replace Anthony? He has the experience and know how to defend us. I hope they find a good replacement and someone who loves the Cayman Islands and its financial industry.