Crisis centre cashes in on war of words

| 07/06/2011

(CNS): The author of a controversial, but critically acclaimed book about tax havens, has taken on the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange chairman and his spoof book award and selected the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre as the recipient of the $1000 donation. In an attempted sarcastic swipe at the author, Anthony Travers had awarded Nick Shaxson the inaugural stock exchange book prize for the “Fairytale” category for his book Treasure Islands which came with a $1000 donation to a local charity. Shaxson took a swipe back at Travers stating the award wasn’t big enough but nominated the Cayman Crisis Centre to receive the cash. CICC Board Chair Len Layman offered his thanks to both men and said it would be spent wisely.

“I would like to thank Mr. Shaxson for choosing the Centre as the charity to receive the proceeds from this spoof book award as well as to Mr. Travers for the award.   While the debate which Mr. Shaxson and Mr. Travers are having is bringing the eyes of the financial world on the Cayman Islands we,  The Cayman islands Crisis Centre, welcome the much needed donation and hope that it will also help to bring awareness of the plight of victims of Domestic Abuse worldwide,” he said.

“We can assure both of these financially savvy individuals that the money will be well spent, helping to serve the needs of victims of domestic abuse and their children here in the Cayman Islands.  On behalf of the Board of Directors and the clients of The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre I say, "Thank you both."

Travers made his announcement in a press release last month where he criticised Shaxson’s book as a “work of intricate speculation,” where the author managed “to layer mischaracterization on misrepresentation on half truth and omission to create a fabulous tale of exuberant  derring-do without feeling the slightest obligation to resort to the research or evidence presented by the IMF the OECD, IOSCO  the FATF or indeed the US General Accountability Office,” the stock exchange chair said about the book.

Travers said he had created a tale of legend, allegory and fantasy making him the clear favourite in the new spoof award’s fiction category. “We look forward to hearing from Mr Shaxson with his designated charity,” added Travers. “It’s a rattling good light read, hugely entertaining and, my goodness, very, very, humorous.” 

CNS contacted Shaxson who said he would be electing a charity but said he was disappointed that Travers was only prepared to part with $1000 and urged him to multiply it by ten. On his own website Shaxson defended his book and challenged Travers to outline what it is that he specifically thinks is “actually factually wrong in Treasure Islands,” as he accuses Travers of “Vague mudslinging without stating clearly what Shaxson got wrong.

As the war of words between Travers the former chair of Cayman Finance and Shaxson and his other colleagues at the Tax Justice Network and Tax Research UK, brings internaiotnal publicity to both Shaxson’s book and the Cayman Islands finance sector at least on this occasion it has given a local charity, a welcome if small, donation as well.

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  1. Nicholas Shaxson says:

    Dagny – thanks for your contribution – but you are gravely mistaken in your assessment of what's been going on here. Please take a look, for instance, at my blog yesterday

    Specifically, it explains how Travers' allegations against me are factually wrong. Note what he says in the release:

    "This is a work of intricate speculation where the author has managed to layer mischaracterization on misrepresentation on half truth and omission to create a fabulous tale of exuberant  derring-do without feeling the slightest obligation to resort to the research or evidence presented by the IMF the OECD, IOSCO  the FATF or indeed the US General Accountability Office."

    And this is part of what I said, in reply:

    "His statement is is factually incorrect – and absolutely so. . . . Let’s start with the IMF. Look in the index of the UK edition of Treasure Islands, and you’ll find 15 references to the IMF, and pointers to a range of different IMF reports. Or take the OECD: there are 25 listings in the index, several of them spanning two or more pages, and indeed a whole chapter (entitled “Resistance”) which dedicates itself very significantly to looking at the OECD.

    Indeed, one of the important tasks of Treasure Islands is to expose and explain these organisations – particularly the OECD – as being very much the tools of tax haven interests, and therefore hardly likely to mount serious attacks on them (the OECD’s 1998 report notwithstanding.) So for one thing, their reports aren’t going to be the last word on tax havens.

    Perhaps what Travers may object to here is that I didn’t widely parrot his favourite reports from the IMF and OECD, but instead took a step back and looked at their role in the whole game, looked at what they said versus what they actually did, and demonstrated beyond any doubt the appalling systems they have set up to ‘appraise’ the tax havens.

    To reiterate: I quote from each of them at great length, repeatedly.

    I also do look at, and quote from, the FATF and the U.S. G.A.O., though I don’t pay them quite such extensive attention as I do to the OECD and the IMF.

    Mr. Travers, though, is correct on one point – I do largely ignore the workings of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) which tries to set up international co-operation between securities regulators. IOSCO matters, and I could easily have mentioned it in Treasure Islands. But I didn’t, for the simple reason that there are only so many pages in a book, so much to write about – and only so many acronyms most readers can cope with.  (If it means anything, I also note that the extremely pro tax haven book Offshore Financial Centres and Regulatory Competition – pressed into my hands recently by two different prominent offshore officials on two separate occasions –  only mentions IOSCO once, in passing, on p80. It’s an important player in this game, but not that important.)"


    Dagny – it doesn't look so simple, now does it? And there's more from my blog:

    "It should be noted that Travers refused to see me when I visited Cayman – and directly instructed other top officials to shun me too. (And yes, I can back that up with evidence, if he challenges meto prove it.) Second, Travers has serious form in terms of vague mudslinging in my general direction, without actually saying what, specifically, he objects to."

    Once again, I challenge him to get specific. What exactly, specifically, does he object to? As I mention in my blog, there are one or two errors in the book, which I've owned up to, and I'd be delighted if he could help me identify some more specific errors, which I will also be delighted to own up to. I will respond to his points in turn.

    This way, the process of understanding these issues will be pushed forwards.

    But I agree with you: though my understanding of Cayman charities is limited, my research indicates that it is a very worthy cause.

    Oh, and one other thing. Why not try reading Treasure Islands yourself? I'd also be interested to hear if there's anything you disagree with.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The only 'fairytale' is that scandal, underhanded techniques, money laundering, tax evasion and the like only happen in 'OFCs' (Off-shore Financial Centres). Does it happen – YES. Does it happen as much OR MORE in the UK, US, Canada, etc.? YES! [where is 'Delaware?'].

     Regardless, don't try to tell me anyone's hands are clean (including Cayman), the system was setup to allow this. If the US think taxes are being paid because its corporations are hinding money in Cayman (of other OFCs), then why don't they change the rules? Could it be because of lobbyists? Could it be because of a removal of campaign funding by certain large US organizations? Could it be because most of the high-ranking US Govt. officials have their money 'hidden' overseas? Could it be all of the above?!?!?! We're all complicit, as we know what's going on but continue to let it happen.

     BTW, shutting it down overnight would cause a collapse of the 'legimate' financial system as well as the 'criminal' one (although we're at the point I can't really tell the two apart anymore).



  3. Dagny says:

    Well done Travers!  You put Shaxson in an impossible position and the outcome is excellent – a worthy charity receives a donation and Shaxson has ultimately admitted that his book has factual challenges.  This was a good humoured approach that has raised awareness about the myopic view of these so-called activists and has communicated Cayman's opposition to the misleading statements made by them.

    Thank you for continuing to send out our messages in a way that gets the attention it deserves.  No one reads or cares about the bland, sterile comments of the boring ultra-polite.  A little character goes a long way.