Travers attacks ‘Tax Taliban’

| 08/12/2010

(CNS): Following his letter to a UK Labour member of parliament Emma Reynolds regarding her comments about tax avoidance and the Cayman Islands, Anthony Travers has taken aim again at Reynolds, as well as the American president and the socialist movement, which he has described as the "tax Taliban". During his speech delivered at the IMAC Cayman Captive Forum to an audience of over 1,000 international as well as local financial experts, the chair of Cayman Finance said the negativity about offshore financial centres was driven by “blame deflecting” politicians and “disturbed individuals” who believed that one high global rate of taxation would solve global poverty.

Travers accused Reynolds, the shadow cabinet Labour MP, of appearing not to be able to tell the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance when she said that tax evasion and tax avoidance were unacceptable as she asked the new UK government why it had given up demands to introduce direct taxation in the Cayman Islands over its borrowing approval.
The Cayman Finance chair questioned why she would raise tax evasion as it is not permitted or enabled by Cayman legislation and suggested she did so to demonise the jurisdiction.

“Tax avoidance is lawful and if Ms Reynolds finds it unacceptable she must amend UK law, which of course she can’t because her party is in the minority, although they had 13 years in power and apparently forgot to get round to it,” he told the audience, echoing the correspondence he recently sent to Reynolds.

Travers said he believed the widespread negativity was part of well organised and powerful public relations campaigns driven by onshore Treasury, and supranational and domestic regulatory bodies. British politicians such as Emma Reynolds and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and even US President Barack Obama were, he said, examples of politicians that were “blame deflecting … and anxious to obfuscate the failures of their domestic regulatory systems … by suggesting that in some way it is the tax or regulatory system of the offshore financial centre that is at fault.”

He claimed the problems they were trying to conceal by their demonisation of offshore centres had their source onshore. He described various socialist activist movements, such as the trade unions, major charities such as Oxfam, and Travers arch nemesis, Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network as the “Tax Taliban” .

The effectiveness of these movements were however diminishing Travers claimed as he told his audience their claims “are a heresy and are unlikely to withstand the tax transparency” that he said Cayman demonstrated.

Travers said the tsunami of negativity boiled down to competition. Tracking the start of it back to the 1998 OECD report on ‘Harmful Tax Competition’. This report, he suggested created “an Alice in Wonderland world” in which all countries should be taxed at an agreed super rate of tax.
“These negative public relations campaigns are really all about who controls global financial services and capital flows and the right to tax those capital flows,” he said. “Jurisdictions which provide tax competition are seen as a threat by the high tax jurisdictions.”

Travers concluded that the sector was in a trade war for financial services and as a result Cayman had to take the range of financial services qualitatively to a much higher standard and establish an improved substantial presence to deflect the future attacks that are already formulating.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    there are two issues here – the first is that this article is classic CNS sensationalism – I heard Travers’ speech at the IMAC conference and it was enlightening, well-informed and entertaining.  There was not a person in the room who had not had a laugh and who did not understand what the political situation is by the time he finished.  CNS has again managed to find and print the little snippets of the speech that are most likely to raise ire and create havoc rather than appropriately and accurately represent the nature of his presentation. 

    The second issue is that these other two posters obviously know very little about the topic they are commenting on.  Travers, and Cayman Finance under his leadership, have done more for Cayman’s economy in the past two years than anyone else.  Cayman has desperately needed someone with the smarts and the courage to say what has needed to be said and Tony is fitting the bill.

    Keep up the good work, Tony.  We need someone on our side! 

  2. Anonymouse says:

    Really ? "tax taliban" ?

    This bull is past the "sell by" date for the china shop.

    The grumblings from many of the firms that financially support Cayman Finance are getting louder, but I don’t hear any of them stepping up to tell Tony to step down.


  3. Honest and Decent Caymanian says:

     Tony should call it a day,  XXXX. Associating an American President etc with the Taliban   just makes himself look a fool, and does no good for the Cayman Islands.

    He should understand that at this present moment of time millions of people throughout the world are suffering because of the crisis brought on by financial institutions, and be ..much more diplomatic.