Of courage, bravery and discernment

| 18/02/2011

Hot on the heels of the departure from office of Egypt’s western backed dictator and oppressor of his people (a departure that can largely be attributed to the bravery and courage of ordinary Egyptians) the Swiss Government announced that it had frozen the assets of the Mubarak family held in its jurisdiction.

As the Egyptian people (and the Tunisians and the peoples of all the other nations ruled by corrupt despotic leaders poised to follow a similar course) begin the search in earnest for the wealth of their respective nations, wealth that has been illegitimately spirited away by the corrupt ruling families and their sycophants, the gaze will inevitably turn on jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands.

Truthfully the focus should, in the main, be directed on the City of London, Wall Street and their masters. It is those locales and the select band of the new global elite that inhabit and control them who are the primary beneficiaries of the pillage of the wealth of underdeveloped nations.

However, jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, purveyors of the vehicles (trusts, secretive hedge funds, offshore companies) that would have been at the centre of the process of facilitation of the export of the wealth that rightfully should have been utilized in the improvement of the quality of life of sad and destitute citizens, can hardly expect to escape the spotlight.

As with the BCCI scandal, the Enron fraud, the Madoff rip off, the sub-prime mortgage con game, we can expect the self-righteous western media to find much fodder in the facilitation process we so willingly and proudly peddle.

As always once the buckets of opprobrium are poured upon us, our own elite (the Cayman Finance types), arguably the sole local beneficiaries of this inglorious enterprise, will respond with righteous indignation.

We the ordinary people will yet again be left with the reality that in response to the moans of our elite, our Government will be forced to hurriedly divert already scarce public financial resources (resources urgently required to fight crime and stimulate employment) to pay the smooth talking PR men in New York, Washington and London to burnish our yet again tarnished reputation.

The usual suspects can be expected to trot out to justify such diversion of funding and focus on the grounds of the importance of the financial industry for our well being.

When the history of the second decade of the 21st Century is written, it will undoubtedly be replete with references to the bravery, courage and discernment of ordinary Egyptian people.

One can only dream that all ordinary people were Egyptians of early 2011.




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  1. Jonathan says:

    To say that Mr. Iton is pro socialist because he is pointing out the very serious issues regarding the international financial industry is ridiculous. There is so much vitriol to be expected when one tackles this subject, it is a danger which is unavoidable though. Because of the fact that our country here is a player in the game and it is a very large part of our economy the ruffling of feathers is unavoidable but I commend Mr. Iton for taking on a subject which is too hot to handle for most. One of Bob Marley’s songs has a line which says “the truth is an offence, but not a sin” and I think that in the context of this much needed and important discussion that it holds a lot of meaning. Democracy is the best of a group of ideaologies who all share the trait of being imperfect, some more than others. “Capitalism” has been tweaked and twisted to the extent that fair trade is constantly thwarted by those who would sell their mother for a penny and any form of ethics is viewed as the enemy. The global financial meltdown was and is proof positive of this as it was the consequence of unbridled greed. The fox running the henhouse will always be a bad idea in the long run, and for those who profit from the suffering of the people of this world you will one day have to answer, as will we all. I believe in democracy as the best option of governance in this world, true democracy is hard to achieve simply because of human nature, logistics and ever increasing populations even in a perfect world, the best example I am aware of was on, ironically, pirate ships. If there are those who wish to engage in McCarthy “ism” when one points out these things I would suggest that they take a close look at how history has judged Mr. McCarthy and his antics. Those in Egypt who stood up for right and against wrong, whose patience with institutionalized corruption ran dry and who put themselves in the firing line to work towards a more just society were themselves accused of being traitors when in truth they were showing the evidence of true patriotism.

  2. Shock and Awe says:

    Anonymous 12:24:   Mubarek was respected?  In the same way a beaten dog respects it’s master?

    Take a look around.  Egypt.  Tunisia.  Bahrain.  Morocco.  Libya.  Shanghai.  The U.K.  Wisconsin.

    something is happening here

    but you don’t know what it is

    do you

    mr. jones

    People are fed up with corruption.  They are taking it to the streets.  As they have every right to do. 

    Power to the People.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There is a long and rich history of story telling here in the Caribbean and as a Caymanian who left university not so long ago, I appreciate this. It is therefore re-assuring to know that there is no danger that duppies will disappear as long as we have people who are able to transform them to meet the fashion or agenda du jour.

    Mr Iton undoubtedly has the ability to write with style and passion, even if with a certain pervasive and unswerving ideological agenda. He should not be chastised for his agenda, for in story telling and other political narrative, facts and other tawdry considerations should never be allowed to interfere with the point one seeks to make. Credit must go where it is due.

    Is it possible that anyone reading this particular story could come away with any doubt that it is the one true path of socialism, perhaps as epitomised by the unending and countless blessings enjoyed by the people of North Korea, that we in Cayman should emulate? Can there be any doubt that the very industries which employ so many people in these islands and which pay for so much that the public sector provides, should be banished in order that those who failed to progress in the sector will be avenged? Possibly, but if there is doubt then how will the new world order arise in which those who have clung unfailingly to 1960’s Marxist gibberish gain the reward that they are so sure they deserve? Perhaps if they huff and puff and write Viewpoints from time to time, all will be made right, socialism will be vindicated, and those who believe in its merits will live happily ever after.   

    • Shock and Awe says:

      17:40 Socialism which you seem to fear wouldn’t be so appealing if Capitalism hadn’t proved itself to be such an utter failure for so many millions of impoverished people both in Third World and First World countries.  As an example you picked one of the worst of the Socialist experiments in North Korea which isn’t really a Socialist system.  In retrospect however, I’m finding it impossible right now to find a positive example of a Capitalist system.  Can you name that one?  With an economy that isn’t in tatters?  In case I’ve missed it?

    • Keir Hardie says:

      Are people that stupid?  Have they drunk the American-right Fox News cool-aid that much? 

  4. Yo Mama says:

    The fact that Cayman’s financial industry caters to the some of the world’s worst dictators is another discomforting truth we don’t like to face. If we happily provide a service to evil men who murder, torture and steal billions from their countries, don’t we have some blood on our hands?

    Look at this way, if Hitler was in his hey day right now there is no doubt that our financial industry would be kissing his rear and holding some of his billions for him. And somebody like Tony Travers would smugly claim that “everybody does it”, it’s not for us to judge if a dictator is good or bad, and, of course, Hitler only does business in Cayman because of our wonderful services and not because we specialize in hiding money and helping people duck obligations back in their homeland.

    • Anonymous says:

      SO are you saying that we are doing business with the likes of Kim Jong? Hitler doesnt have to be resurrected there are numerous others who have replaced him and last time I checked they could not slip a single dollar past our borders. It is people like you who seek to discredit Cayman and make us out to be the “outlaws” and people like Mr Iton who go out of their way to walk the straight and narrow and try to impart some common sense and wisdom.

  5. Patrick Schmid says:

    Many points taken!

    I would like to throw in two cents in relation to Mr.Iton’s comments:

    1. Mr.Iton’s article is extremely well written and clear to anyone who reads and considers these matters – no one in no article can cover every aspect of every issue which emanates from a life-changing event such as what has transpired in Italy;

    2. I would never purport (nor expect anyone else to be able) to express a point of view in relation to which I have no experience – we are after all only human. However, dialogue at this level is poignant, important and allows us all to learn from our respective collective knowledge and experience (provided that we are prepared to learn and attempt to improve ourselves);

    3. I similarly respect the position of the person who commented on Mr.Iton’s article – only time will tell what the repercussions of the change will give;

    4. To me, there are three very salient and extremely important points to garner from the article and the comment however:

    (a) that we must never forget that democracies are supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people YET balanced with the recognition of internationally ratified human rights (in order to protect fundamental rights accepted as inherent to one and all, regardless of whether they are in the majority or the minority);

    (b) democracy can work – people brought the President to the end of his rule – (I explicitly refrain from expressing an opinion on his rule itself because I simply do not have that knowledge);

    (c) The Cayman Islands CAN AND WILL ONLY SUSTAIN its success and continue its success by continuously evaluating the needs of the markets and the industries to which we cater as well as the local and international public relations and diplomatic efforts and capacities which we utilise in order to keep our place in a world where the reality is often 90% perception and 10% truth;

    (d) Anyone who feels that their place in this world is secure or that the Cayman Islands’ position is secure, is lying to himself or herself and will ultimately reap the seeds of his or her on misconceptions, no matter how insulated or ‘above the rest’ they might feel!

    Finally, I would encourage everyone to have a read of the Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, which can easily be found onGoogle, particularly:

    "As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.

    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain or bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism."

    Sincerely, Patrick G. Schmid

    • au revoir says:

      patrick, a slight correction to your commentary – the events transpired in egypt, not italy…

      • patrick schmid says:

        Apology for typo…to "au revoir":

        Dear "au revoir" – below you will see comment from me in response to "au revoir" pointing out that I mention Italy in the second line of my original comments on Mr.Iton’s article. I would simply like to apologise to "au revoir" as I did actually inadvertently mention Italy – this was a mere slip in the course of writing my thoughts on Mr.Iton’s comments. I wish just to clarify that I am very cognisant of the fact that the subject was inter alia, an exercise in democracy in Egypt not Italy. I did not spot the error – I apologise to anyone who may have been offended – I clearly meant EGYPT. Sincerely, PGSCHMID

  6. nauticalone says:

    Well said once again Andre!

    Western Greed (and hypocrisy) is at the root of much of the worlds inequality.

    The good news is that “Change always comes….sooner or later”!!
    As the current affairs in Egypt….and elsewhere are evidence of.

  7. Dagny says:

    Andre – if there are expenses to be paid for brushing up Cayman’s ‘tarnished reputation" I suggestthat we send you the bill, since all of the unfounded accusations above come only from you.  There has been no reports of Mubarak funds illegally held here.  You just made that up and put it on the internet for all to see!

    It is a shame that your fantasy world is not more cheerful.  If you are going to use your imagination, it would be nice to see it put to a more positive good.

    CNS: I would guess that The Washington Post has a few more readers than Cayman News Service. Probe sought in Egypt of Mubarak family finances. Quote: At the center of the activists’ complaint are records that raise questions about offshore companies and funds based or registered in Cyprus, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, Hamza said.

    • flipper says:

      Do you feel like a twit yet?  Think, in this case, read (at least one or two additional sources) before you write!  Duh say what?

      • Dagny says:

        No, I certainly do not. 

        If you read the article, it says that there are activists raising questions about offshore companies and funds.  Further, the article states that "none of the documents presented to the prosecutor – and previously reviewed by The Associated Press – necessarily indicate illegality in business dealings" (but you have to go all the way to page 2 to read it).  The article does not state who the activists are, although I have my guesses as to who they might be.  If my speculation is correct, this is a small, but loud group on a blind mission to sell a snake oil moral requirement for everyone in the world to pay the highest possible taxes.

        Just for fun, google ‘Mubarak’ and ‘Cayman’.  Interestingly, CNS holds the number two spot for its re-posting of the Washington Post article.  There are no credible news sources covering this story and I have already pointed out the lack of detail coming from the Washington Post.



    • Anonymous says:

      As usual Dagny you rather nastily attack the messenger with all the righteous indignation that Andre refers to while totally missing the point of the message. I suggest you read the viewpoint again and see if you get it this time. Here is another reference to the possibility that Mubarak has funds in the Cayman Islands.


      Ummm, how many readers does the CNN website have again?

      Now you don’t have to go off on how much you dislike or disagree with CNN’s source (zzzzzzzzz). We get it. But try to understand that when Andre says that as people look for Mubarak’s money they will inevitably point fingers at the Cayman Islands, this is what he was talking about.

      Really, you would be much more effective if you at least tried to be civil – you come across as an ill-bred oaf, which does little to further your argument.

      • Dagny says:

        Ah, Anon 11:41, you do make me laugh!  Perhaps when I lower myself to name-calling we can have a little spar – the equivalent of a verbal thumb-fight – how about it? 

        My point is (and has always been, as you will know since I am pleased to see you follow my posts regularly), that Cayman residents are quick to publically blacken our own financial services industry and they do it without a proper understanding of what they are talking about and the impact that their words have on the global perceptions of Cayman.  You directed me to a story that quotes Shaxson (who, incidentally, along with his pal Murphy were those I suspected to be the ‘activists’ leading the accusatory charge against Cayman and the other offshore centres in this case).   These are people with their own little agendas.

        Cayman has been at the forefront of initiating all crimes anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism legislation and has aced all of the on-site reviews by the IMF, CFATF, OECD, GAO, etc. There are dozens of academic studies to support the fact that the use of Cayman structures by multinational companies and investors provides economic benefits to developed and emerging markets, providing wealth and opportunities to the poorest in the world.

        We need to stop whipping ourselves senselessly.  Shaxson is going to be doing enough of that for us – all for the purpose of getting stinking rich off of his book sales (oh, please tell me that he is donating all of the ‘proceeds’ to charity!). 

  8. Anonymous says:

    I lived in Egypt under Mubarak’s leadership and pouring praise on the ‘bravery and courage’ of the people for his overthrow is an interesting reflection on what has occured and what is likely to happen.

    The country has a population of over 80million. However impressive the demonstrations may have been on TV, those taking to the streets only represented a very small group led by people whose political and religious motivations have still to be tested.

    The big question is will they actually restore democracy? Who knows? But it is just as likely that the loss of Mubarak will plunge a country that has enjoyed peace for nearly 40 years into chaos as the various factions vie for power and extremists try to destabilize relations with Israel.

    It is way to early to hail this as some kind of glorious popular uprising against an unpopular despot – from my own experience Mubarak, whatever his faults, was widely respected.