Travers awards spoof gong to tax haven critic

| 26/05/2011

(CNS): In a press release circulated on behalf of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, the chairman, Anthony Travers, has revealed his intention to give $1000 to a local charity chosen by the author and member of the Tax Justice Network, Nicholas Shaxson, in a spoof book award. In an undisguised sarcastic swipe at the man who wrote Treasure Islands, Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World, Travers has given the book the Cayman Stock Exchange’s inaugural Book of the Year award. Describing it as a “sublimely entertaining” account of bad guys, tax wrongdoers and hidden treasure, Travers said Shaxson was a worthy winner of the “FairyTale” category.

Although Travers is no longer chair of Cayman Finance, during his time in that role he declared his intention to respond to all critics of the Cayman Islands that he believed misrepresented the jurisdiction and the offshore financial services sector.

In Treasure Islands, Shaxson, who is a Chatham House associate fellow, points a finger at tax havens as being at the source of the world’s economic problems and the untold story of globalization. He says that tax havens arenot just about tax but escape from criminal laws, creditors, prudent financial regulation and democratic scrutiny and accountability as well as tax.

In the book Shaxson describes tax havens as “the silent battering rams of financial deregulation” that have forced other countries to remove financial regulations, to cut taxes and restraints on the wealthy, and to shift all the risks, costs and taxes onto the backs of the rest of us. “In the process democracy unravels and the offshore system pushes ever further onshore. The world’s two most important tax havens today are United States and Britain,” he states.

As well as criticizing onshore tax havens, Shaxson takes aim at Cayman and other offshore financial centres.

A vocal critic of Shaxson and the organisation, Tax Justice Network, of which the writer is a member, Travers is taking a different approach in his latest public criticism with the spoof award. However, he appears to be genuine about handing out the cash as he says a $1000 award will be paid to the Cayman Island charity of Shaxson’s choice.

“We are pleased to make this award to a worthy winner. This is a work of intricate speculation where the author has managed to layer mischaracterization on misrepresentation on half truth and omission to create a fabulous tale of exuberant  derring-do without feeling the slightest obligation to resort to the research or evidence presented by the IMF the OECD, IOSCO  the FATF or indeed the US General Accountability Office,” the stock exchange chair said about the book.

“It was a brave literary vision not to do so given the overwhelming weight of hard and established fact to the contrary and his decision not to address the conventional and established wisdom but to ignore it in its entirety in creating his tale of legend, allegory and fantasy makes Mr Shaxson our clear favourite for this year’s award in the fiction category.”

In the release, Travers added that the book had even caused some US Senators to believe that this fairy tale world exists and that there is a “veritable pot of gold sitting waiting for the swashbuckling US legislator at the end of the rainbow” described by Shaxson in the Cayman Islands, which confirmed Shaxson as “meritorious winner” of this spoof award.

“We look forward to hearing from Mr Shaxson with his designated charity,” added Travers  “It’s a rattling good light read, hugely entertaining and, my goodness, very, very,  humorous.”  

CNS has contacted Shaxson to ask if he will be taking Travers at his word and ensure that a worthy cause benefits from the rivalry between the two men.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    As a once powerful man becomes increasingly marginalised his actions grow more reckless to stay in the spotlight……how very sad. What's the point of the CSX having a board, they are as effective as the rest of the mlas supposedly governing behind the Premier.

  2. Anonymous says:

    > In a press release circulated on behalf of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange…


    If this is indeed true, it is very distasteful for such an organization to do so. The make up of Board / Chairman should be reviewed.

  3. BUT WATCHING says:

    Tony, can you please STOP shouting your mouth off on the international stage XXXX? Your Board should not allow you to use the name of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange as a support for your rantings. Do us all a favor XXX.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr. Travers for your repeated and clear explanation to the ignorant about what it is we do here in the Cayman Islands.

    Of course we do not facilitate the legal and quasi-legal dodging of taxes by corporations and the wealthy. And of course we wouldnever assist murderous dicatactors with hiding money they rob from their nations.

    As you often explain, clients choose to place their millions and billions here because our receptionists are so nice and our template-completing lawyers so effiecient. It is absurd to suggest that there is something sleazy or immoral at play in this.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you regard this award as a marketing exercise on behalf of Cayman, it has certainly got people talking. Readers need an exceptional storyline to catch their attention, and Tony has achieved this brilliantly, and I don't see that his remarks and sense of humour are in the slightest bit detrimental. Perhaps some of us should lighten up a bit.

    He's actually put Shaxon in an impossible position, where his only sensible  reaction will be to ignore this insulting award, at which point he looks humourless and unsporting, and someone who is prepared to cheat a charity out of $1,000. This is surely a puckish, creative and harmless way to discredit an author who has apparently misrepresented Cayman's offshore financial industry in the interests of a creating good read. Well done Mr Travers!


  6. Money Man says:

    This is immature and arrogant in equal doses. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    yet again Tony makes a fool of himself. Can somebody please tell him to retire

  8. Anonymous says:

    Poor Tony XXXXX.  Using a would-be venerable national institution to grind his jewel encrusted axe. 

    This is highly inappropriate.  Can you imagine the head of the NYSE or LSE giving out "Spoof awards"?  How on earth did this get past the other Directors?  Sack the lot of them I say.

    The award is counterproductive anyway.  Isn't the first rule of PR not to engage with this kind of thing, lest you validate and elevate it in the public mind?

    I'm afraid the joke's on you Tony.

  9. tim ridley says:

    Tony T clearly has his best tongue in his cheek reflected in the release. But, in reality, the book is not very good fiction either. It takes a strong and dedicated reader to stick it through to the end. Perhaps that is why the US edition was shortened! And why John Grisham's works are usually on the best seller lists, and Nick Shaxson's book is unlikely to make it.

  10. Paradise Lost says:

    …and how many US firms are currently using the Ugland House as an address in Cayman?  A few thousand or so?  Why?  Are they avid divers?  Do they love the sunset on 7MB?  Or maybe, they just love happy hour at Margaritaville?   

    Whatever, keep fighting the good fight Mr Travers. 


    • Anonymous says:

      I love how this shot is taken….granted to commenter ignores the state of Delaware and their similar operations where they have multitudes of companies registered at one address.


      I think the bottom line is that if the due diligence is in place and and the background checks are completed, who cares?


      Afterall, the postoffice is basically the same concept: One location housing a multitude of addressess…

      …Just saying

      • Paradise Lost says:

        It's not a matter of ignoring the state of Delaware, it's just that Delaware was not mentioned in the article.      

        No one has yet to explain to me why all these US corporations have an address at Ugland House. 

        If it walks like a duck…   

        • Anonymous says:

          tony doesn't answer these type of questions……

        • Inspector Gadget says:

          "No one has yet to explain to me why all these US corporations have an address at Ugland House. "

          I can give them my address… just as long as they pay my bills.  What are the names of these companies again?

          I will go to Ugland House and investigate this throughly, ok?

        • Anonymous says:

          Every company in the Cayman Islands must have a registered office. This is, in reality, little more than a statutory service address as required by law. This should not be confused with the principal office of a company (ie where its physical operations are based). In the case of a Cayman Islands exempted company, it must have a registered office in the Cayman Islands but the principal office cannot be in the Cayman Islands. By way of a simple analogy, we all use a PO Box as our address, but no-one is suggesting that all of the islands’ residents actually “hang out ” in the six or seven post office buildings around the island. That there are one or two registered office services providers that are very large is only natural. Registered office services lend themselves to economies of scale as with other businesses (eg Hurleys and Fosters dominate the supermarket scene).

          I hope this answers your question.

    • Paradise Lost says:

      Still waiting on a response as to why so many US corporations "hang out" at Ugland House.  Anyone? 

      • Anonymous says:

        Probably the same reason that even more "hang out" in Delaware, USA.

      • Anonymous says:

        don't ask awkward questions!…..they won't get answered

      • Rorschach says:

        TAX AVOIDANCE….there, I've said it….

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes Rorshach, and entirely legal since it's not "evasion". Every one of my family and friends in the UK, bar none, is taking every measure possible to avoid the hated and hateful inheritance tax, including the simplest measure – spending it. There are of course cleverer methods I wont go into but the point remains: nearly eveyone with a pulse does what corporations do for their shareholders, namely, legally minimise the tax paid.

          • Anonymous says:

            So true 6:45! I thought my family was the only one preparing for paying little or no inheritance tax! Perhaps it's wider spread than I thought.

          • Rorschach says:

            I may be stating an obvious point, but the reason I highlightedthe word "avoidance" and Didn't use the word "evasion" is because I know that there is a difference and that avoidance isn't illegal..however, NOT EVERYONE does…and most people still see the words as interchangeable…I was trying somewhat to point out the obvious to the person who kept asking the question, but I guess my useage didn't quite translate in this medium..oh, offense taken by me.. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Whatever it is it obviously isn't tax evasion.  Cayman has a tax information exchange agreement with the US.  So trying to evade taxes by having an office in Cayman would be futile. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    A press release circulated on behalf of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange?

    Anthony Travers and Nicholas Shaxon can fued for the rest of their lives for all I care, but when Travers releases such nonsense in the name of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange he should be fired!!!!!!!

    Did the Board of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange approve this award, or is Tony acting out the role of "UDP Cowboy Board Chairman" who is answerableto none?

    • Anonymous says:

      Tracy from Swamp says, You think so, well dont hold your breath for that one, it just aint going to happen.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is this kind of public activity what we want the chairman of our stock exchange to be doing? Do we think anybody will take as seriously if we continue like this?

    Mr. Travers is probably one of the most intelligent persons on this Island, and I have fun with his statements, but he shouldn't do them as Chairman of the Stock Exchange…

    • Joe B says:

      When you look at what the Premeir is doing,  What the MLA's are doing and not doing,  Minister of education, etc. its the same thing.  What did you think intelligent people seriously think of Cayman?