Travers hits back at Financial Times

| 08/06/2009

(CNS): Making good on his promise to tackle criticisms of the Cayman Islands Financial Services sector whenever it occurs, Anthony Travers, the chair of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association, has written to the UK’s leading financial newspaper to respond to a critical article which ran on 1 June which suggested that this jurisdiction was at the heart of a number of US investigations. Travers told the Financial Times that the article gave a misleading impression.

The article, which Travers says gives “the impression of an opaque, crime-ridden regime”, entitled US probes target British business was published on 1 June and revealed the details of a report by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which states that British-linked businesses are the prime foreign targets of US corporate bribery probes and how UK companies and executives are being caught up in Washington’s purge on international corporate corruption.

The story states that companies based in the UK, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands account for 16 of the 29 ongoing investigations in Washington and uses a large image of Cayman as its photographic support, something which Travers was directly critical of. In his response to the paper, which was published on 5 June, Travers says the presentation of the story would lead “readers to suspect that an avalanche of US-inspired investigations is about to descend on the Cayman Islands. A photo of Cayman that takes up more space than the copy lends much weight to this illusion.”

Travers writes: “Only three unfortunate cases are reported in the Cayman Islands; the fewest of all the countries noted in the article and seemingly therefore undeserving of the prominence of your picture illustration. Bearing in mind the recent strenuous attempts by the Cayman Islands to raise awareness of its long-standing transparent tax information agreements with the US and all 27 European Union member states, it is unfortunate that the Financial Times gives the impression of an opaque, crime-ridden regime. Rather than pretty pictures of the Cayman Islands, perhaps pictures of the Statue of Liberty and Big Ben would have been more fitting.”

Since taking up the reins of the jurisdiction’s financial PR Travers has utilised a number of platforms in his bid to get a positive message out to the world about he Cayman Islands while trying to dispel the more negative perceptions that had prevailed in recent years. Aside from writing to President Barack Obama and visiting Washington’s tax academics himself, Travers has been taking up a number of opportunities to engage the international press.

Last month Travers told CNS that he intends to “deal immediately with erroneous and negative comment” about Cayman’s Financial sector wherever it occurs. He explained that there was a pressing need for a proactive rebuttal mechanism that will take effect right across the internet.

Read Travers’ full letter to FT here.

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  1. Tim Ridley says:

    As a general comment, it is correct that tax policy and the international tax intitiatives etc are matters for the Government and not the regulator, CIMA. However, closely intertwined within these international inititiatives are the issues of transparency, good governance, exchange of information and enforcement generally. That in turn goes to the regulatory regime in Cayman. So these are indeed matters on which CIMA may and should properly be consulted and speak out.  

    The continued portrayal by the international media, politicians and others of the Cayman Islands as the bad boy is largely the product of our success and our complacency arising out of that success.  But it is also the result of Cayman’s failure (not entirely our own fault it must be said) to fully implement the commitments given to the OECD back in 2000. Fortunately, the private sector and the Government have recognised the need urgently to address these issues through increased engagement at all levels, through increased arrangements for cross border exchange of information and through increased local transparency. I would add one further component that needs attention -quicker and more effective enforcement of our laws and regulations.

    It is not possible for Cayman to behave like King Canute; rather we must apply the lessons of Darwin and constantly adapt to the changing environment in order to survive and thrive. This we can do. But it will not come cheap in terms of the human and financial resources required.

    • AnotherView says:

      We can turn this many ways but sensible public policy would eliminate a "financial services regulatory body " from a direct participatory role in the negotiation of international tax treaties.  Consultation, yes, active consultation, yes, yes but don’t place such bodies at the table of "international tax negotiations" or in a public speaking role about the same.  This is the reality of financial services regulation no matter how we try to spin it, whether to suit past or present actions or otherwise.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If only they understood us. Be careful what you ask for. 

    I wonder how Mr. Travers explains the nature of the offshore business which Cayman does to the foreign legislators that he claims to be meeting with without also telling the US and the UK legislators how they could modify their legislation so that they could have the current business which Cayman has. I have been told that much of our commercial legislation was initially modelled on a combination of English and Delaware law so it shouldn’t take too much for them to grab what we now have. I hope that issue has been carefully thought through.  It has been said that the path to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps it would be better after all if those in the UK and US thought that the business we do was somehow unsavoury and not of interest to them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe that people are still asking "why us". Get real. Playing in the big leagues mean your competitors will use every dirty trick available to drive you out of business. Cayman’s problem is that we have business that the OECD states want and we came to the game unprepared to hit back when they try to take it from us. Those that drive policy in the UK and US know perfectly well that our regulatory regimes are better than theirs and that we cooperate with other jurisdictions to prevent and presecute crime. They also know that Cayman is a soft target whose business can be easily taken away.  

    Cayman is "named and shamed" in these trumped up lists and in the media feed from OECD countries not because there is anything wrong happening in Cayman but because Cayman is the easiest available target for our competitors in the OECD. Other countries hit back. Cayman has the largest chunk of hedge fund business and the largest securitisation sector which the US and UK and other OECD countries would love to have. Hong Kong is protected by China. Singapore is an FATF member (sister organisation to the OECD) and Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man have mostly private client business (the kind to which tax evasion attachs which just goes to show that none of what Cayman is trying to deal with has anything to do with tax evasion}. 

     It is good of Mr. Travers to spend his retirement years sending off letters to newspapers,. However, it will all be a day late and a dollar short unless Cayman starts to think more proactively about how we can make it painful or ineffective for the OECD to attack us (whether through having independent experts vigourously pointing out OECD hypocricy or showing the value added Cayman provides or otherwise). The nonsense with the OECD has nothing to do with any fault on the part of Cayman. It has to do with our success which is now under attack. Telling the OECD that they are right and that we will now run around signing up to tax agreements is a ridiculous way to secure Cayman’s future. 


  4. Anonymous says:

    Who is this CARLYLE MCLAUGHLIN that you speak of?  I’ve heard very little of him, which is very odd given that I work on the legal side of the financial services industry.   This individual has, as far as I can see, done very little during his tenure (I know he gave opening remarks at a funds conference once on-island). 

    If I am mistake it would be nice to learn of any initiatives he spearheaded.  Google for CARLYLE MCLAUGHLIN doesn’t give up very much unfortunately…  It would be useful to get to know a little about OUR LEADER at CIMA…

  5. Anonymous says:

    CARLYLE MCLAUGHLIN SHOULD GO!!!  You should be doing Travers’ job.  I sure hope the UDP Government replaces this person from whom we have not even heard a peep since his appointment as Chairman of CIMA.  Alden McLaughlin should be ashamed of himself for making this stupid move and appointing his cousin at a time when we are in such dire straights.  Carlyle please do the right thing and resign.  We have no faith in you. 

    • AnotherView says:

      Not sure that i understand your calls for Mr. McLaughlin to go?

      Mr. Travers is hired to do a PR job for the private sector association – he does that well.  Mr. McLaughlin, on the other hand, is the Chairman of a regulatory body – should he not maintain an objective position in all of this?  This is a tax matter, right?  – should this not fall primarily to the relevant policy level bodies within the Government (with the support of the private sector association/s, of course) and not to CIMA as a regulatory/implementing body?  This seems to be what is happening now.

      • Anonymous says:

        "should he not maintain an objective position in all of this?"

        Objective, yes.  Supine, no!

  6. Twyla M Vargas says:


    I am a Caymanian born and bred, and you can call me  Limie baby as much as you want , but I always hold to my word that an Englishman/, or Limie, whatever you may want to call him is #1 in my books.  You will get fair trade in love and war from them.

    Mr Travers, I continue to thank you for your efforts of trying to save the face of the Cayman Islands.  You have lived here for 30 years, and you are just as much a Caymanian as I am. 

    Walk good

  7. Tim Ridley says:

    Tony Travers is to be congratulated for his robust letter to the FT.

    It is important that the community here be aware that official corruption (particularly in the Third World) and claims of the laundering of the proceeds through offshore financial centres are important pieces of the current G20 programme, being executed by the OECD and other international agencies (including the World Bank). 

    Cayman must and can be on the right side of this one. The Anti-Corruption Law passed in 2008 is to come into effect on 1st January 2010, and with it the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate both suspected local public sector corruption and to assist in the investigation and tracing of assets of foreign official corruption. Curiously, not much local or international media or other attention has been paid to this excellent development as yet. That needs to change.

    For those who are interested in the full details of the AC Law and the Commission, I refer them to the article that will appear shortly in the July issue of the Cayman Financial Review.

    • Anonymous says:

      All credit to Travers and Ridley for their efforts. Can either of them say why it is Cayman’s name continually-daily- appears in the world’s press as the centre of financial arrangements which seem to outrage so many people worldwide. Why is it when we hear of a Parmalat, a Madoff, an Allen Stanford or any other less well known fiasco, we can always guarantee that within a few days/weeks Cayman’s name will be associated with it?

      On a separate but somewhat related note given our unsuccessful efforts to get on the white list, cananyone update us taxpayers on the value for money we have gotten from the so-called "Friends of Cayman" group always being wined and dined by our London Office over the last few years? Or. come to think of it, the value for money from our London Office, period?

      No, I thought not.

  8. Obama's mama says:

    Some may this this Financial Times article is in fact a Traversty

  9. Richard Wadd says:

     Three cheers for Travers, a man who takes nothing ‘lying down’, who stands up for truth and justice, and who has the interests of this country at heart …. while our own Caymanian ‘Leaders’ DID NOTHING !

    By the way, while Mr Travers has made Cayman his home for over 30 years, I find it shameful that so many  ‘Born Caymanians’ spend so much time ‘slamming’ Expats, while it is these ‘Expats’ that champion our cause, and protect our way of life.

    • Charles says:

      “By the way, while Mr Travers has made Cayman his home for over 30 years,
      I find it shameful that so many  ‘Born Caymanians’ spend so much time
      ‘slamming’ Expats, while it is these ‘Expats’ that champion our cause, and
      protect our way of life.”

      Mr. Wadd, after 30 years in Cayman the majority of us see Mr. Travers as one
      of us. He has proved himself part of this island and is defending Cayman as his
      home because it is. The people that Caymanians refer to as Expats are people
      who come here on work permit and collect money but have no interest in
      helping preseve Cayman. Don’t get me wrong, they are some Expats with genuine
      intentions that grow to love Cayman and its people, but like Mr. Travers, will have
      to prove themselves. What have you done Mr. Wadd to “champion our cause, and
      protect our way of life?”

  10. Marek says:

    Cayman has one of the most professional banking systems in the world. Every time I read some UK/US based story they paint this picture of guys in back rooms with bags of cash which of course is absolutely not the case, personally I think every person living in Cayman should start writing on all these international blogs and posting everywhere they can.

    For example, it’s the UK/US that have this massive banking fraud, this massive mortgage fraud, this massive and almost complete meltdown of the financial system, the loss of millions of jobs and countless millions of homes being foreclosed. They are also home to … huge amounts of credit card fraud, bank check fraud and they’re looking at "Cayman".

    Really, I’ve banked internationally as well as the US/UK and I can tell you that two of the easiest places to open a ‘no-questions-asked account are … you guessed it… the UK and the US.

    Whereas Cayman requries considerable indentifcation, references and proof of the source of your funds.

    Has anybody ever heard of a US or UK banker questioning the ‘source of funds’…. in my entire life I’ve never had a banker in either country ever ask me … anything… whereas I have always found Cayman bankers to be amazingly detailed in reviewing new customers and verifying all details.

    Many of the problems the US/UK and other parts of the world are having right now are based in large part on… uncontrolled banking… their uncontrolled banking

    I say… look in your own backyard…  and if you’re going to write about our banks then come here, speak with a banker, review the processes and then… you can write about them … don’t make stuff up based on some movie you saw twenty years ago.

    Shame on the Financial Times



  11. Anonymous says:

    Travers is a Limey. Where are all our born Cs that we are told are so effing bloody wonderful at everything under the sun, trying to help Cayman? Carlyle mclaughlin-where are you my fellow Caymanian? Alden? It’s the same old same old, we hate the limeys but need them to keep us going.So sad.

  12. Clearviewer says:

    Finally some one that see,s  what the UK is up to, leave them alone and they will destroy us to cover up their own misconduct.  They are as devious as the U.S. They both have money laundering in their own back yards but as a small country they will paint us as the villans three cheers for Mr. Travers.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Go Mr. Travers.  Job well done.  Every incorrect or misleading article about Cayman should be addressed.  We should be defended at all costs.  Enough of picking on us because we are successful.  I remember when some years back Cayman under the leadership of McKeeva Bush took on the UK and EU in court with respect to the tax savings directive.  When the EU court of first instance decided in favour of Cayman I remember thinking that Mr Bush has some serious guts to make this kind of move.  It was like David and Goliath.  We need strong decisive leadership.  If we lose, well we can’t say we didn’t try.  At least we don’t have the indecisive PPM at the helm anymore.  I don’t even want to think where we would have ended up.