No complaint about UK lord

| 26/06/2012

Blencathra.jpg(CNS): Despite reports from the UK that the House of Lords standards commission may be looking into the appointment of Cayman’s representative in London, the commissioner, Paul Kernaghan, has stated that he has received no complaints about Lord Blencathra on possible conflicts of interest. Although some UK MPs had questioned the Tory peer’s role as the director of the Cayman Islands London office, Kernaghan said he had received no complaint and was not conducting any investigation relating to him breaking the House of Lords Code of Conduct. Last month, when tensions between Premier McKeeva Bush and Governor Duncan Taylor in Cayman escalated, Bush also accused Taylor of trying to block his appointment of the British peer.

Sources tell CNS that the FCO had, in fact, wanted to check that the appointment would not pose any conflicts orfall foul of any standards and regulations regarding the British government or the UK’s upper house before Blencathra was formally appointed and the announcement made.

However, the premier went ahead and signed a contract with the peer during his visit to London in November, before the FCO had checked the appointment. It is understood that Bush wanted Lord Blencathra in his camp when he met the OT minister, Henry Bellingham, to sign the Financial Framework Agreement.

In his attack on the governor in May, when he listed what he believed were the UK government representative’s shortcomings, Bush stated, referring to Taylor, “He didn't support me hiring Lord Blencathra.”

Aside from FCO questions, however, the appointment was criticised by the opposition Labour party and in the press.

Since the complaints were raised in the UK parliament about him, Lord Blencathra took the initiative and contacted the UK Commission for Standards in Public Life, supplying various documentation, which he said demonstrated there was no conflict of interest and he was not breaking of the code of conduct. Paul Kernaghan wrote back to the peer confirming that no complaint had been made and therefore there was nothing for him to investigate.

The question of conduct arose when the UK’s daily newspaper The Independent printed a story stating that Lord Blencathra sits as a peer in the House of Lords, while also holding the post of London Office director for Cayman.

“On 17 April, they print a story saying that I may have broken the rules and should be reported,” said Lord Blencathra in a release from the Financial Services Secretariat. “Then on 18 April, they print a story saying that there have been demands for me to be investigated, without pointing out that they were the only ones making the demands.”

The peer said Cayman has been under attack in the UK press for years, ever since John Grisham’s novel, The Firm, used the islands as the backdrop for a fictional story of financial corruption. The novel was made into a popular movie starring Tom Cruise, much of which was filmed here in the Cayman Islands and featured many familiar faces as extras.

“There are some reporters and editors who are stuck on that 1993 movie, and who do not report truthfully about the quality of the Cayman Islands as an international financial centre,”  said the Tory peer, who is drawing CI$19,000 from the public purse to defend Cayman’s image and interest in London and Brussels.

“Unfortunately, this means that the public cannot move forward either – unless they are aware of positive reports written about the Cayman Islands, prepared by global oversight bodies such as the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes; the Financial Stability Board; and International Organisation of Securities Commission (IOSCO).

“These reports, and many others, speak well of the Cayman Islands’ financial services legislation, regulation, court system, and industry overall,” he added.

Lord Blencathra said that, as the London Office director, it is his job to tell the public about the jurisdiction’s achievements and strong reputation in the global financial community.

"It is a fact of life that I, or anyone else who speaks up for Cayman, will be criticised. If people like me stay silent then there is no chance of the true financial status of Cayman being fairly reported. I will continue to defend Cayman, and no doubt some reporters will continue to attack us," Blencathra warned.

See related story:

Miller calls on CIG to dismiss UK lord

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Comments (14)

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  1. Libertarian says:

    The FCO and Governor’s role is to ensure good governance and proper fiscal management of these islands – McKeeva Bush ditches them and benefits another vessel to safeguard money interest between us and the UK so to speak. The FCO's interest over these islands is now under Blencathra and his Tory backers of special interest. No doubt the Labor camp would be upset about this arrangement. Bush knew this too well and it would more than likely make the FCO’s controlover the conditions of our autonomy meaningless if you remove the role of protector of our financial centre to another. Further, if you remove the cheese and give it to another rat, most naturally it leaves the first rat without the benefits and weakens their power.

    Here, Bush is directly up against the FCO's elites. We hear so many about Bush putting us on the brink to Independence. Well we may see the opposite – Cayman, get prepared to be knocked around like a pan of cottage cheese. Because these powerful elites will not let go so easily without a fight. The FCO want first-hand control. But now they have a foe that appears to deny their superiority. McKeeva Bush so to speak through Blencathra and others, taking the role-power from one group to another. Hence, McKeeva could brag to Taylor, “He didn’t support me hiring Lord Blencathra.” Questions:  Who from the Labor Party side can touch him now?  Or, who from whatever side that is not on his side??  Just how much support is he getting from Tory?

    Blencathra states to his enemies, they “do not report truthfully about the quality of the Cayman Islands as an international financial centre.” This was supposed to be the FCO’s job to defend the financial centre, but you heard nothing from them. Instead what you heard and the Premier holds against them, are words to the international media of how Cayman has a Premier under three corruption investigations. The Governor and Bellingham knew too well what fire could do to our reputation. But here comes Blencathra who shook some seats in the FCO devoid themselves of accountability of their members, and has taken a role they were suppose to upheld so to speak.

    Cayman, we are caught in the middle of this political rivalry for cheese in the months ahead of us. Let us not forget what is at stake:  the subjugation of our autonomy as a people and what that will mean to our way of life.

    • tb1 says:

      Lib, what exactly is the cheese?  Is it the UK's clientele of a banking industry that is tax free?  And Lord Blencathra and Bellingham… are they not for the same thing to protect this centre from reputational damage and all like behind the OECD?  I don't get it…. why need two entities? 

  2. Anonymous says:

    But is Lord Blencathra really doing the Cayman Islands any favours?

    Writing in the Times this week he said, "The Cayman Islands Government is a tax-neutral jurisdiction, but it has a double tax agreement with the United Kingdom government whereby HMRC is provided with full transparency for tax purposes in relation to any account in the Cayman Islands."

    As anyone who watches tax offshore tax matters knows this simply isn’t a full representation of what has happened in the past or is happening now.

    During 2006/7 (under Chancellor Gordon Brown’s leadership) the UK’s HMRC engaged in a major initiative to recover unpaid taxes on money invested in various ways in the Cayman Islands through the large high street banks. This money mostly came from relatively small investors and HMRC had to invoke powers embodied in the European Union Savings Directive to extract the account information from the UK banks involved. It definitely was not released voluntarily and one of those involved even initially tried to refuse to release the information but was eventually forced to hand it over.

    The result in 2006/7 was that thousands of people with money stashed away in the Cayman Islands woke up one morning to find unexpected tax demands in the post.

    The fact is that in many cases it is unlikely that the tax-relevant account information referred to by Lord Blencathra was (or currently is) actually held in the Cayman Islands in a format, which is any use to HMRC. The bottom line is that it is still possible to (and personally I don’t see anything wrong with that) invest money in places like theCayman Islands without HMRC knowing anything about it.

    This information is quite clearly in the public domain and for the Cayman Islands UK lobbyist to pretend otherwise doesn’t exactly help promote the Islands integrity. Putting a convenient spin on matters has caught out more than a few politicians in the past.

    Ironically, several of the banks involved in these schemes subsequently had to be bailed out using tax payer’s money.

     

  3. Anonymous says:

    I say STAND strong behind our government. For if they fail, we ALL fail. One for all and all for one. Thanks Mr. Bush, I salute you and your efforts.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Having seen his smug response to The Times cartoon this week, his inputs seem to be doing more harm than good.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Bush stated, referring to Taylor, “He didn't support me hiring Lord Blencathra.”

     

    This should be re-phrases as:

     

    Bush stated, referring to Taylor, “He didn't support me wasting more money that has to be borrowed.”

    • Anonymous says:

      anon 22;03

      Why is it that everytime the government spends a dollar, it is proclaimed as being wasted?

      If you dont like the way  the government is spending here, then go to a country where that government will only sit on it's money..see how happy you will be about that…this stupid statement is becoming like a sick man's backside.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is just another case of the World Bank sticking their nose where it doesn't belong. Lord Blencathra had nothing to do with the actions of David Maclean when he occupied that body.

     

    Lord Blencathra denies all knowledge of any shenanigans that David Maclean might have been involved in before he acquired the body.

  7. shocker says:

    The only one who is complaining about our financial center getting represented is Miller. see link – http://centos6-httpd22-php56-mysql55.installer.magneticone.com/o_belozerov/31115drupal622/politics/2012/04/24/miller-calls-cig-dismiss-uk-lord

    Once again Miller is more leaning towards Independence.

  8. Knot S Smart says:

    We are not complaining and we are willing to payhim –  is it around US$260,000 per year?

    Thats not bad for the heavy workload he has, as compared to the President of the United States who earns US$340,000  + a $50,000 expense account – for having almost no responsibilities.

    Remember we are an economic super power with a balanced budget!

    Thats why we are able to pay our Premier around double what the President of the United States earns – when we take into account his salary, pension-double-dipping, expense accounts and travel excursions.

    So – We dont have anything to complain about. In fact we are so rich that our Govt on a regular basis is able to give the churches million dollar donations, pay our mortgages, give us $10,000 cash gifts to fix our houses, give us solar panels, and on and on and on…

    We are mired deep in a pit-of-wealth…

     

  9. cow itch says:

    duncan i have a complaint… all i want for christmas is my two front teet… LEAVE SANTA ALONE!!!!

  10. cow itch says:

    now…… who would want to complain against santa claus? ??  not me! 

  11. Free Speech says:

    "Bush also accused Taylor of trying to block his appointment of the British peer" I have to agree with Bush on this one. The FCO and Governor would love more than anything else but to have total power over this island without any hindrances. They are fed up with Bush, and it appears Bush isn't making it better for us.  He gives the FCO more reasons why they should colonially control us. And if that happens, that would be very unfortunate to our democracy, a leap from the frying pan into a boiling pot. All these politicians are about one thing. The people have no choice but to put up with their foolishness.

  12. CHECHE says:

    Why won't people stop hating on Blencathra and Keevs? Gosh.