Cayman Finance chair takes PR fight to Washington

| 27/10/2009

(CNS): Appearing at a special conference on Barack Obama’s door step, Anthony Travers was debunking the still pervasive myths regarding offshore financial service centres last week to promoteCayman’s own financial sector. Speaking at the CATO Institute during a seminar focusing on the benefits of tax competition, the chair of Cayman Finance illustrated why the US President, Gordon Brown and Senator Carl Levin are wrong about Cayman. Travers pointed out the fact that the IRS has had legal access to accounts in Cayman for a decade but has only ever conducted 20 investigations to no avail.

Talking about the wide mischaracterizations about Cayman, he explained why the jurisdiction is far from ideal for would-be tax evaders.

“To describe the Cayman Islands as a jurisdiction where tax evasion could be conducted is wrong,” he said. “Whilst Cayman law maintains a legitimate right to privacy, its confidentiality statue provides a clear gateway to enable tax transparency and specifically with effect from 2001, when it entered into the least reported on tax treaty with the United States.”

Travers added that in both medical and legal terms people would be insane to use Cayman as a place to evade taxes. “The IRS has full authority to access all accounts,” he observed. “A power of which it should be reminded since as it has exercised that power (in over decade) in relation to the now famous $1.83 trillion of bank deposits and interbank bookings on fewer than twenty occasions times with no discerning or reported benefit to the US treasury as a result.”

He went on to explain that Cayman also signed up to the European Union Savings directive in 2003 which created a proactive reporting obligation on any European residents bank account which was revealed to be a mere $35million on account fiscally insignificant in the grand scheme of financial things.

Travers detailed the unilateral mechanism which followed enabling twenty countries to have legal access for tax purposes, but it was effectively disregarded by the OECD. He said Cayman then had to sign several more treaties which amounted to the same thing in order to satisfy the OECD’s interpretation of what it perceived as the right document.

The Cayman Finance chair, who has made it his mission over the last six months to change global perceptions of Cayman’s Financial sector, got down to what he has argued is the fundamental problem with the OECD and the onshore jurisdictions. He explained that the comments made by Obama about Ugland House, Gordon Brown’s position that the world would be safer if tax havens didn’t exist and the Levin Bill were all part of a wider issue which was a growing objective by OECD countries for a global flat high rate tax.

Travers noted that a major misconception by the US and European nations was that the money which centralized in places like the Cayman Islands was somehow theirs, which he said was not true as it came from international global markets. More importantly, he explained that the money that came to Cayman in the shape of hedge funds, for example, found its way back to the onshore sector’s economies.

“At the height of the hedge fund market at the end of 2008, assets under management amounted to about $3.6 trillion of which 65% was invested back into the United States by and through US fund managers,” he explained. “The misperception that drives Senator Levin’s proposed legislation is that somehow this originally is US money … that is not the case.”

Explaining why people used Cayman, he said it was not to evade taxes but because the jurisdiction was economically efficient, it was a centre for expertise and had a reputation as anincubator for sophisticated financial products. He said Cayman had a superior corporate law which enabled firms to access international capital markets which explained things like Ugland House (Travers’ own former office). Taking Obama to task, not for the first time, Travers said, “It is superficial in the extreme to criticise that structuring because it does not resemble a car factory in Michigan,” he said.

The mischaracterisation of Cayman was driven by the desire for a global one size fits all tax – he said the offshore jurisdictions were not harbouring “weapons of tax destruction”, so what he called the tax competition argument to stop the movement of money from one jurisdiction to another was all that the onshore jurisdictions had left against places like the Cayman Islands.

 He said no one could say what this top rate of tax might be. Travers recalled the UK high level of tax in 1970s when he left (to make his fortune) it had reached 97%.

Travers warned that not understating what offshore financial centres do created erroneous tax policies which in the end would harm the US. Travers explained that on shore jurisdictions needed to address their own tax polices as their perceived missing taxes could not be found in jurisdictions such as Cayman. “There is not pot of gold in the Cayman Islands to assist the US treasury,” Travers added.

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  1. Re. "“To describe the Cayman Islands as a jurisdiction where tax evasion could be conducted is wrong,” [Mr. Travers] said.

    Does anyone in the Cayman Islands actually believe that this comment is anything other than utterly ridiculous?

    FYI, at sentencing of former Cayman-based banker John Mathewson (remember him??) at federal court in New Jersey in 1999, it was disclosed that information provided by Mathewson had led to investigations into approximately 1,500 US residents who were suspected of tax evasion.

    This outdated ‘Let’s stick our heads in the sand’ attitude is hardly what is required for Cayman to progress in the modern era, unless your idea of progression is to provoke spontaneously laughter among people who live outside Cayman.

    Mr. Travers is playing to the peanut gallery with his comments. They do Cayman a disservice outside of the island. I’m sure Ann Nealon would agree with me if she were still working on the island instead of being forced to leave in the most hill-billy of circumstances!!!

    David Marchant

    Publisher, OffshoreAlert

  2. david miller says:

    As i said before… Tony YOU THE MAN BROTHER!!  

  3. Caymanian to the bone says:

     You go Tony! This is another Caymanian who thinks you’re a rockstar!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have no problem with Mr. Travers going to Washington, London, Tokyo or wherever and telling anyone that will listen that Cayman is a great place and that those who say otherwise don’t know what they are talking about. I doubt that he has anything like the credibility among foreign government officials that some seem to think that he has, but I hope he continues to travel far and wide with that particular message and I wish him all the luck in the world persuading those foreign officials.

    I have a big problem with anyone, including any person that gains prominence by saying nice things about us overseas, trying to persuade our government that it is necessary to do away with or relax immigration controls for foreign workers in the financial services sector. That may be good for the wallets of those who support him but I am not at all convinced that it is good for Cayman and Caymanians in the long term. 

    • Anonymous says:

      So what do you want – the island just to sit back and let it all slip away – then what for Cayman ?? 

      Tony Travers is the only person we have who is  ideally qualified to fight on our behalf  , he is very well connected so please dont state that foreign govt officials dont know who he is – this chap is regarded as one of the worlds leading experts on legal & financial offshore matters  and has been for many years . 

      • Anonymous says:

        And the evidence that he has influence with legislators in G20 countries is ??????????

  5. Anonymous says:

    Travers is one of the worlds  leading  expert in offshore law/ finance that cannot be disputed

    Why then are so many people critical of him speaking on Caymans behalf –

    Please tell me who else we have to speak up for us – I genuinely would like to know

    If you cant come up with an answer then please stop criticising the one person we do have


  6. Anonymous says:

    At least the PR firm hired by CIFSA seems good at posting on blogs. Can’t wait to see what they will post after this post.

    Interesting exercise for anyone wishing to see objectively verifiable information on the impact of the presentation given in Washington last week. Put "Cato" "Travers" and "Cayman" in Google and do an Advanced Search setting the time at one week, the period of time since the seminar. I did it after reading the posts below. In fact their were only 4 Google hits. 2 of these hits are from CNS, and the other 2 are from what looks like a "mirror site". In other words – there has been no uptake whatsoever.

    Just for the record – I think Tony should continue to speak loud and clear. Ideally his presentations would be arranged that somebody outside of Cayman might listen.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a private individual no link to CIFSA , PR Company etc I watched his presentation yesterday and did so through the CATO link which may explain why the stats you are quoting dont add up . I have five  colleagues who also watched it so that would be five people  who have viewed it that I know personally. I dont know what a mirror site is but I watched it at my private residence .





    • Anonymous says:

      People are watching it direct on the CATO site -which is the obvious place to watch it –  sorry to burst your bubble !! (I dont work for PR Company or Cayman Finance )

      I followed the link that was posted on CNS on Saturday


      Watch Travers in action
      Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/24/2009 – 07:12.
      Watch Travers in action fightiing Caymans corner
      Panel 2 after 18 minutes


  7. Anonymous says:

    No one should be so deluded as to think that Mr Travers’ forays, however well intentioned, arehaving any positive effect on the policy debate going on outside of Cayman. That is not intended as a criticism of Mr. Travers, who is entitled to do whatever he wants, and no doubt is doing what he thinks needs to be done. Rather, it is a plea for government and the private sector to immediately implements a strategy that will actually accomplish what Cayman needs. 

    Mr Travers is undoubtedly doing the best he can based on the advice he is getting and his experience in the private sector. He is to be commended for being willing to spend his time doing something. Unfortunately there is no evidence that what he is doing has any hope of shaping the business end of the current policy debate on the role of offshore centres, or influencing what is coming at Cayman in particular.

    The potential for local self-delusion exists in overestimating the value of criticising various politicians in front of an audience like the Cato Institute. Cato has some wealthy individual participants, but the membership of the Cato Institute is vanishingly small and its influence in the fora where policy is currently decided is virtually non-existent. Simply put, no one who matters cares what Mr. Travers says to the Cato, and speaking to Cato or breakfast radio in the UK does not influence anything which will affect Cayman’s immediate or long term future. By way of analogy, there is no possibility that the cheerleading squad will score any points in the policy game that is being played with or without the Cato Institute, and the government sector looks like it has simply not showed up as it is still trying to find the game schedule and rule book.

    There is also no evidence that the money being spent by the private sector and Mr. Travers’ efforts are producing anything other than a temporary and very local "feel good factor" here in Cayman, and increasing Mr. Travers profile in Cayman. I you put "Tony Travers" and "Cayman" into Google you get a few hundred hits – many of them relating to the local media rather than any major international publication. On the other hand if you search Google using the name of one of Cayman’s principal critics like "Richard Murphy" and "Cayman", you get 10 times as many hits, and most of those hits relate to publications that actually influence the policy debate, particularly in the UK. It is a good thing for Cayman that the funding available to Mr. Murphy is a very tiny fraction of what is being spent by CIFSA. Perhaps CIFSA should find out who is supplying Mr. Murphy’s PR advice.

    The commercial decisions of "onshore" investors and financial firms are being heavily influenced, even directed by, the policy debate relating to offshore centres like Cayman. The actions of the G20, the OECD, the EU, the FATF and similar bodies are also influenced by that policy debate. Cayman’s best hope for influencing that policy debate and its impact on Cayman lies in securing respected objective figures who are able to present objective evidence that Cayman and its financial services sector contribute to the global economy. Again meaning no disrespect to Mr. Travers, he is simply the wrong person with the wrong CV and skill set to represent Cayman in that debate. Mr. Travers may have contributed to the development of Maples and may have made a lot of money for himself, but unfortunately those qualifications are completely irrelevant in the context of shaping the current international environment and the threats facing Cayman. The private sector’s is most likely to assist Cayman and Caymanians, firstly by lighting a fire under our government and secondly by interacting with individual overseas stakeholders and organisations in the funds and other sectors who have the potential to influence "onshore" governments.  

    We are at the beginning of avery bumpy ride. All we need to do is to look forward a few weeks. The EU is about to introduce measures which will severely challenge our funds sector and neither the government nor the private sector are doing anything about it despite the fact that the EU’s actions are likely to be significant impacts on government revenues and private sector jobs. Unlike what happened with the Savings Directive 5 years ago, this time Caymanis completely unprepared and is likely to be hard hit.

    There is also no secret that the UK is likely to use the soon to be released "Foot Review" of the Overseas Territories to further undermine the competitive position of Cayman, and neither the government nor the private sector is doing anything to influence that process or shape the impact that its imminent release will have. It is entirely foreseeable by way of example that the recent declaration by government that Cayman is "broke" will be used within the context of the "Foot Review" to justify its destabilisation of Cayman.   

    There is an urgent need for the leadership of the private sector and government to recognise what is coming at Cayman and to stop playing small time politics and to implement a strategy that is likely to secure the future of our financial services sector. Lets hope that they get on with it.


    • Anonymous says:

      Wrong on every point .What exactly do you think public relations is? And is you figure that out try getting off your sofa and doing some.The Cato audience is global so is Bloomberg so is the BBC. But on the substantive point look for the press release on the successful results of the Cayman Finance lobbying initiative which has contributed  to the Baucus /Rangel legislation replacing Levin’s Bill .In terms of delusion I suppose you think those meetings did not happen.


      • Anonymous says:

        That is fantastic. Please publish the data showing any causal relationship between Mr. Travers stating or publishing anything and any change in US policy or legislation or even draft legislation. Please keep in mind that someone from CIFSA saying "sun rise in the East", and the sun rising in the east at some time thereafter does not reflect a causal relationship. Just in case you don’t get that part of the PR concept.

        • Anthony Montana says:

          Even US senators have a hard time changing US policy or US Legislation. I don’t know if he has done or not, but to try to criticise Travers for not doing so is silly.  Has Mac caused any changes to US policy or Legislation? Do you know of anyone who has? Things are more subtle than that. Perception is key. I’m not sure exactly are you saying? We should sit back and do nothing? Or should we try to plant a seed to make the right people in the right places slowly realise "hmmm, maybe the Caymans aren’t so bad after all? ". I say the latter.

        • Anonymous says:

          Data ?  You seriously think these matters are evidenced by data ?The whole issue of public perception and legislative response is a good deal more subtle than that.Fortunately Mr Travers understands  what is involved . I wonder what he was doing is all those meetings on the Hill.Probably not asking for data .

    • Anonymous says:

      Well  Captain anonymous rule 1 of public relations which appears to have eluded you is that you have the character  to sign your name.It really has to be hurting you to see Cayman Finance succeed for the first time in decades. Now lets just take a look at who hasn’t funded Cayman Finance .

      • Anonymous says:

        There is definitely an element within the finance sector that is speaking up for Caymanians and they must be rooted out at all costs. If they are not government officials might get opinions that do not reflect those authorised by the big money boys.

    • Anonymous says:

       How can you say that Mr Travers has the wrong CV to take up the fight – he is regarded globally as one of the worlds leading experts with regards offshore financial / legal. He is therefore more than qualified to speak on Caymans behalf , I cant actually think of anyone more qualified . 

      Who do you have in mind to take up the challenge ?  I genuinely cannot think of anyone – please name names 

    • Anonymous says:

      Get on with what Einstein? The representations to Foot were all made .Cayman Finance is monitoring the EU Funds Directive .Running around screaming that the sky is falling in should not be confused with sensible criticism.  We get that you think you are the man .But how will we google you?Under anonymous?

      • Anonymous says:

        LMAO – someone posting anonymously criticizing someone else for posting anonymously

        • Anonymous says:

          Travers has put his hat in the ring – why dont you as you obviously have all the answers which is why I think it has been raised as to why you want to remain anonymous –

        • Anonymous says:

          For the record anonymous posters do get to be on the record . I am not a PR company just a grateful participant in the Cayman financial services industry .And if Google is you resource perhaps you need to talk to a PR company about how PR actually works before boring us with your irrelevancies

    • Anonymous says:

      The last time I looked Mr Travers had featured in The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Washington Times , The National Post (Canada) Bloomberg TV, BBC TV and a host of hedge fund and banking publications which are devoured by the global financial industry. 

      His brilliant analysis of our situation has been heard in London and Washington at conferences and trust me (I was there), politicians are taking notice. How do you explain the sudden silence of Messrs Obama and Brown after Mr Travers  highlighted the fact that tax trickery going on in the City of London far outweighs anything going on in even the most notorious tax haven? President Obama was equally embarrassed when Mr Travers pointed out that a certain office in Delaware was of considerably more concern to US tax authorities than anything Ugland House might represent. 


      As for Mr Richard Murphy, is the writer aware that the Tax Justice Network is a one man and a dog operation run out of the bedroom of a house in the English countryside? Supported by the contributions of left wing supporters who wish to see a uniform global tax structure the organisation has no standing in the financial world whatsover. If lazy journalists want to quote them that is their business. Only a fool would heed them.


      The writer does make one good point that our CI Government has been less than dynamic  with their own PR but again if he was better informed  he would be aware that only last week Cayman Finance, under the chairman of the ever present Anthony Travers, has put its expertise and that of its advisers at the disposal of Mr McKeeva Bush. That would appear to address the writer’s criticsm that the commercial sector and govenment are not combining strategically.


      One has to assume that the writer bears some kind of personal animus against Mr Travers. That’s a great pity because this gentleman has proved to be our most articulate defender on the world stage.      


      • Anonymous says:

        this gentleman has proved to be our most articulate defender on the world stage

        What was that expression – oh yes – "damning with faint praise".

         Then again it is at least good to see that the issue of who is representing Cayman and their competence is being raised.

      • What planet must you be living on to actually believe that Barack Obama and Gordon Brown have been ’embarrassed’ and rendered ‘suddenly silent’ by comments made by Tony Travers?

        It is highly amusing to me to think that there is anyone in the Cayman Islands who is so insular and has such a chronic lack of understanding of how the world really works that he or she actually genuinely believes this.

        Surely you are pulling our collective leg?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hhhmmm let me see  Travers isn’t the man ?I guess Governor Jack would think that wouldn’t he.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why is it so many of you have a problem with Tony Travers – I am guessing its jealousy .He isnt get paid for this- 

    You all need to get behind him as I can guarantee this is  going to be a long drawn out fight and he needs everyones support

    • Anonymous says:

      I can only speak for myself when I say that I have no jealousy with respect to Mr. Travers. He was in the right place at the right time and I don’t doubt but that he worked hard for what he has materially. My concerns relate to what I read on this site and in the printed newspapers about what he appears to advise. It appears that what he advises is all related to growing business not making people’s lives better.

      He may be right that doing away with immigration controls for non-Caymanians that want to work here is the best way for the financial services sector to grow. In my view however doing away with immigration controls is not what is best for Caymanians. My vision of Cayman is that the financial services sector should serve the interests of Caymanians not the other way around. I do not want Mr. Travers or anybody else telling our politicians that they have to forget the fact that they are elected to serve the Caymanian people, not big business interests.  

  9. Caymanian says:

    Every day this man is fighting for cayman and it’s reputation!! They need to be giving this brilliant man that ridiculous amount of money that they wasted on Lee Bridger and the Governor!  Keep it up Mr’. You’re giving us some kind of hope Sir Travers’..   A place in the hero’s corner FOR SURE!!  I really hope the ministers and the LoGB read these blogs, if they don’t they really need to start..

    • Anonymous says:

      Sir Anthony Travers sounds good – however I cant see it happening as he is not a YES man – which is just as well for Cayman

      He has been too critical of the UK Govt , FCO etc  which has been a blessing for us caymanians if we didnt have him lord knows what situation we would be in now 


      • Twyla Vargas says:

        GEE WIZZ  !! sir Anthony Travers",  He does deserve the title..   Some comments are absolutely correct by saying there are  jealous people out there, yes in Cayman we call it grudgeful and badminded.  But you know something,  I do not for one moment believe that its  Caymanians writing all this objective  S#$%:)  about Mr Travers. 

        It is some jealous outsider, and that  anonymous outsider person may be closer to him than he thinks.  " Tony watch a back" !!!   The man is not getting paid by Cayman Islands Government for what he is doing, neither is he getting any first class tickets paid for on Cayman Airways.   and even if he is also protecting his own interest, (and  tell me why should,nt he?)  He is also trying to save the ass of this country where you live…….   If we can be so bold to critize  each other especially someone who is doing good, why do we have to hide our behind in back of  an anonymous door doing it.   Dear me, come out and debate naw.

        • Anonymous says:

          Good point Twyla. I would bet that many of those involved in that CIFSA have no Caymanian blood.

          • Anonymous says:

            I agree Twyla , Tony may not be Caymanian but he has made this island his home and is committed to it – I also agree that he has an agenda – it is protecting the island and its future for his family and others it is the same agenda any normal person would have .

            I feel the backlash against Mr Travers is coming from certain individuals (non caymanian you know who you are ) sitting in their lawfirms / accountancy / finance firms who are jealous of what he has achieved in the past which none of them can ever hope to match –

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that the "Earl of Seven Mile Beach" might be more appropriate for someone who wants to change the rollover policy for people in financial services. Knighthoods should be reserved for civil servants like those who oversaw the spending by the Tempura bunch.

  10. Anonymous says:


    You want to shake up the US / UK and all our detractors send Travers in to sort them out . You could make him honorary consul to UK that would give them something to think about

  11. Backstroke says:

    At least this man has b***s, going on Obama’s turf , I cant wait for the day to prove Obama wrong, he makes my hair curl with all the rhetoric and lies that comes out of his mouth. They know full well that we are not doing what they say, but like Gordon Brown, Obama dont want the truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Obama is too be honest more concerned about Afghanistan at present as the US dont like the fact they have had the highest losses this month since they were deployed –

      Thats the problem with the US they cant take the consequences of their actions – They havent thought through what will happen if they go ahead with the mis representation of Cayman and the massive impact it will have  not only on  US companies

  12. Anonymous says:

    Keep fighting them Mr. Travers. I worked in a large Trust Company for over 14 years and know when the Treaty was put in place and U S had all the access they needed  to check on Tax avoidance etc.  Clients from Japan and all over the world invested here  so let them get the true facts! 

  13. Anonymous says:

    Cayman’s financial services industry has suffered serious reputational damage over the years that the CI Govt’s policy was to ignore the issue while overseas reporters, Hollywood writers and overseas politicians latched on to and continued to spread misconcieved and inaccurate ideas that are divorced from the truth.

    Those of us that are better informed know that it is a much better PR management practice to tackle the spread of false information head on.

    Keep it up Tony!



  14. Anonymous says:

    RE: "You have to give credit to Mr. Travers for the fantastic job he is going promoting Cayman.

    He should have a place in Hero’s corner for sure."


    I really mean no disrespect BUT Are you serious?? Which media in the USA or UK are covering Traver’s stories? I only see his articles being covered here in Cayman..we my friends are NOT the target market. We know of his messages here in the Cayman Islands….he needs to get the word out in those OTHER countries….

    • Anonymous says:

      Try reading the Financial Times ,the Guardian the Washington Post  or maybe check out all the international PR that Cayman Finance has obtained  on its website

    • Anonymous says:

      You are just showing you ignorance by making a statement that he is not known in global media circles.

      Travers took Maples from one office to a truly global presence and he is regarded as one of the worlds leading experts with regards offshore law and finance.

      What to do is go onto the web and type in his name , then cayman or  CIFSA or Cayman Finance etc etc – You will see his how highly this gentleman is regarded globally in the media

      Bloomberg when they interviewed him in London recently also had a live link from the New York lead anchor – do you have any idea the power that Bloomberg has internationally and the reputation they have . To be honest he is actually featured more in global press than Cayman media – it is actually rather sad that the very country he is fighting for doesnt recognise what an asset they have





    • Anonymouse says:

      If Mr Travers wants to get the word out in the USA he needs to get an interview with Fox News and Glenn Beck.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Travers speaking at CATO should be shown on News 27 it would help people have a clear understanding of  why Travers is the  only option Cayman have to deal with and silence the FCO  etc 

    Mac needs to give him an official role and let him do what he does best standing up for Cayman and protecting our financial and legal industry

  16. Anonymous says:

    A reasonably good synopsis but I do suggest that those who are interested watch what Travers actually says  and how he says it  on for the full effect at about 17minutes and don’t miss the panel questions which are even more entertaining. Then compare Travers efforts for Cayman with those of the Governor and assess who is of more use. 

  17. Anon says:

    You have to give credit to Mr. Travers for the fantastic job he is going promoting Cayman.

    He should have a place in Hero’s corner for sure.

  18. noname says:

    Damn this man’s good!