Travers to head up taskforce

| 15/03/2009

(CNS): Veteran of the offshore financial services sector, Chairman of the CI Stock Exchange and a former partner of Maples and Calder Anthony Travers will be chairing a newly convened Cayman Islands Financial Service Association (CIFSA) taskforce which will work in tandem with government to tackle the increasing opposition to offshore financial centres. The formation of the force was announced on the eve of the G20 Finance Minister pre-summit meeting at which a list of uncooperative nations drawn up by the OECD was discussed which includes Cayman.

The creation of the new task force was announced at a televised press briefing on Friday afternoon by government ministers and CIFSA representatives when the Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said he was happy that the private sector wanted to collaborate with government in the effort to get Cayman’s message out.

 “We in government welcome the opportunity to partner our existing efforts and resources with those from CIFSA to augment and diversify our voice on the international stage, particularly in relation to the strength, stability and contribution of the Cayman Islands financial services sector,” he said.

Minster Alden McLaughlin who has responsibility for policy relating to international financial services said that the collaboration was recognition of the seriousness of assault  that the Cayman Islands is currently under and was part of ongoing process to continue to send message that Cayman is well regulated.  “The world will not end on 2nd April,” the Minister added referring to the G20 summit. “We will continue to face these international issues and the more effort that is made both by government and the private sector the better. We are delighted about this partnership. This not just some superficial arrangement but the CIFSA is actually prepared to put money where its mouth is and is investing significant sums.”

Rejecting the idea that the formation of the taskforce was too little too late Eduardo Da Silva President of CIFSA said that the association had been working hard to change perceptions about the Cayman Islands for the five years since it was formed. He said that tax havens had been under assault for a long time and CIFSA had always been dealing with it and would continue to do so.

CIFSA Director James Bergstrom said the users of Cayman’s jurisdiction are very sophisticated and that deal flows had not necessarily been adversely affected by the growing rhetoric but the possibility of being blacklisted at G20 was very strong but not because of any fair or objective criteria.

He said there was a need to get to the decision makers to find out what their real concerns are and then try to address those concerns. Bergstrom added that whether Cayman was or was not on a blacklist the likelihood of new regulations emerging from G20 was very high and the taskforce would be ready to work with the international community. “If there is a silver lining about this,” he said, “with so much attention focused on us we can now go forward and assist with regulatory change and work with the international community to take reasonable steps to deal with any real concerns.”

Although no specific details of what the task will do in the first instance or who it is meeting were given Silva read a statement from Travers who was unable to e at the meeting stating the primary goal.

“We need first to understand better the real concerns of those legislators in the US whose opinions count.  We then have a clear obligation both to them and to the people of these Islands to assist with effective solutions and ones that are not counterproductive,” Travers stated.  “That will require a far better understanding by some of the benefits enjoyed by the US from capital that flows through the Cayman Islands to American financial institutions.  There is nothing new in this endeavour.  Co-operation of this sort has always been the accepted position of the Cayman Islands.  We see it as the primary function of this task force to ensure that if change is to be made, it should be made for the benefit of all interested parties.”

Initial members of the task force include: Anthony Travers, Chairman; Eduardo D’Angelo P. Silva, Vice Chairman; Dan Scott, Ernst & Young; Nick Freeland, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Conor O’Dea, Butterfield Bank; James Bergstrom, Ogier; Simon Whicker, KPMG; Stuart Dack, Cayman National; Gary Linford, AIMA representative.

The taskforce has identified a number of primary concerns and immediate objectives which will be to promote the clear water that exists between the Cayman Islands and those jurisdictions which are non-OECD compliant and a review be undertaken of Cayman Islands legislation and appropriate changes be recommended. I t will also seek to develop a better appreciation of the tax information exchange agreements and the unilateral disclosure of information mechanism already legislated by the Cayman Islands Government and recognition is given to the role of the Cayman Islands in providing trillions of dollars of funding to U.S. financial institutions and that the threat of extra territorial taxation is likely, as before, to reduce the tax base of the US not to increase it.

The taskforce will also be emphasizing the excellent history of cooperation in matters of crime, money laundering and tax evasion between the Cayman Islands and the U.S. and Europe and given the extraordinary stability shown by Cayman Islands financial institutions and the domestic economy throughout the credit crisis, that no credibility should attach to those who suggest that the Cayman Islands or its investment vehicles were in some way responsible.

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