Eleven down one to go?

| 08/07/2009

(CNS): The Cayman Islands signed its eleventh tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) on Wednesday at a ceremony held at the Netherlands’ Ministry of Finance in The Hague. Government said the agreement with the Netherlands is based on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) standard for bilateral exchange of information on tax matters and is seen as another step in removing the Cayman Islands from the post G20 OECD ‘grey list’ with the eventual signing of twelve TIEAs.

Signing on behalf of Cayman, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said it affirmed the Cayman Islands’ commitment to openness and transparency that characterise the way that business operates in the two jurisdictions.

As Cayman struggles to elevate its international reputation in the wake of an onslaught from the world’s leading nations seeking to crack down on so-called tax havens, the new UDP government has committed to signing agreements with as many OECD countries as possible. However, there are a number of indications that the signing of the target twelve treaties may not necessarily be enough to remove Cayman from the ‘grey list’. The OECD may soon be pushing for more TIEAs or evidence of the effectiveness of the agreements and implentation before elevating what it defines as uncooperative jurisdictions to the ‘white list’.

“The Cayman Islands, as far back as 2000, gave an unequivocal commitment to the OECD to co-operate on the issue of the exchange of tax information,” Bush said at the ceremony. “This signing today is a further illustration on our part to honour that commitment. It also demonstrates our willingness to partner with other countries to discourage those who are so minded to, from seeking to evade their obligation to pay their taxes to their respective jurisdictions.”

He added that the Cayman Islands have repeatedly reassured the rest of the world that we provide no safe harbour to those who are involved in any unlawful activities, be it tax evasion, money laundering or any form of trans-national criminal activity.

“We pride ourselves as a major international financial service centre that guarantees high standards of services underpinned by internationally recognised and accepted levels of regulation,” Bush noted. “We therefore welcome the kind gesture of the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to host this signing ceremony. We are grateful to all those who have worked very hard to facilitate this occasion, and we look forward to our two countries working together to ensure the effective implementation of this agreement.”

Thanking all those involved he said the signing ceremony marked the culmination of meaningful negotiations between the technocrats in Holland and Cayman.

Bush was joined by a number of delegates from the Cayman Islands including Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, and  JC de Jager, State Secretary for Finance, signed the TIEAon behalf of the Netherlands.

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