Alden holds his own on BBC

| 12/02/2014

(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier managed to wave the flag for the financial sector without suffering too many wounds during the anticipated interview on the BBC's news channel’ flagship show HARDtalk with Steven Sackur. During the show, which was first broadcast at 11:30pm local time on Tuesday, Alden McLaughlin admitted the genesis of the CI financial sector may have been to assist corporations in tax avoidance but things today were very different. He said Cayman’s house was now in better order than almost any other country with a financial sector, and although he dodged questions about public transparency on beneficial ownership, McLaughlin delivered the message that Cayman would comply to any new standards so long as there was a level playing field.

As he opened the show, the host, Steven Sackur, asked if the pressure on tax havens would cause Cayman to lose its allure for corporations using the jurisdiction and the complex financial vehicles it offers.

The BBC host described Cayman as one of the strangest and most unbalanced micro-economies in the world before McLaughlin went on to briefly describe the success story of Cayman from a subsistence economy to its status as an international offshore financial centre.

Tackling the ‘Ugland House question’, he explained that it was right that none of the companies there had a physical presence as it was the home of an offshore law firm, but referred to 1209 Orange Street in Delaware, USA, which has even more registered companies without a physical presence.

McLaughlin described Cayman as being much better regulated than the US state, pointing to the numerous tax deals and exchange agreements Cayman has, as well as the scrutiny from international regulators, onshore authorities and the OECD, which have found that Cayman has one of the best and most robust regulatory regimes in the world.

“The modern day Cayman is an open, transparent jurisdiction,” he said as he listed all of Cayman’s TIEA and multilateral agreements.

He dismissed the findings of the Tax Justice Network, which ranks Cayman as the fifth most secret international financial centre in the world, but also refused to say whether or not Cayman would be publishing the information it keeps on beneficial owners. He told Sackur that consultation was ongoing and that “no country in the world” reveals all the beneficial ownership of corporations to the wider public, though he acknowledged that the UK was heading that way.

The Cayman leader explained that Cayman has never had direct taxation so it creates a tax neutral jurisdiction for international companies to find cheaper financing as the jurisdiction adds no extra layers of tax liability, which is why it would remain an attractive jurisdiction for international finance.

McLaughlin agreed that it was not right for people or corporations to avoid paying tax where it was due and stated that Cayman was no longer a place where corporations came to avoid tax. He said companies and wealthy individuals know that the Cayman Islands authorities will now tell their country of origin about their business or wealth when asked.

The Cayman premier admitted that the world was moving towards automatic exchange but that would not mean an end to Cayman’s success as an offshore jurisdiction. He said increasing regulation and transparency had fuelled Cayman’s success in past years as businesses are increasingly more attracted to reputable well regulated jurisdictions.

Sackur referred to comments made by former CIMA chair, Tim Ridley, about Cayman losing its competitive edge if there was too much regulation but McLaughlin pointed out that for fifteen years Cayman had met the challenge of increasing regulation and the sector continued to grow and prosper.

Despite painting a picture of a well regulated jurisdiction, Sackur’s question about Cayman successfully prosecuting only six cases of money laundering in over seven years proved tough for McLaughlin, who nevertheless insisted that the jurisdiction had been rated as having one of the best anti-money laundering regime’s in the world.

Addressing questions about UK pressure, McLaughlin indicated that the Cayman Islands was not fed up of the mother country yet, and while a few people waved the flag of independence, the relationship with the UK was a good one.

Despite some tensions from time to time, he said the country was happy with its constitutional relationship with Britain. He did, however, press home the issue that Cayman should not be a scapegoat for the world’s financial ills as perceptions about the islands were still a long way from reality.

The show will air again locally at 4:30pm on BBC World but it is also now available on Youtube or the HARDtalk website.

Podcasts and audio versions will also be available on the BBC Worldservice website later.

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  1. noname says:

    The BBC and other media are owned by the same interests who gain from Cayman. Hardtalk was used (in this instance) to appease the public into believing that something is being done to catch the big tax dollars. The general public will continue to float the rich with their sweat and taxation. Cayman is a significant financial cog in the wheel of the NWO. Let's face it…if the shadow ruling elite who control the likes of Obama and Cameron really wanted Cayman to close…we would already be history.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, that is why Sackur was suggesting that Cayman is being used by powerful forces which it cannot control and is a disaster waiting to happen. What an idiot.

  2. Anonymous says:

    PPM SUPPORTER ALL THE WAY! He was a good choice to represent us, unlike the uneducated hothead on the other end! Ppm voter

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mckeeva would have flipped over that table and sucker punched the rudeness out of that man! Lol. Good thing he didn’t go. “clean jab and pure licks”. Lol. Lol. Lol.

    • Cat says:

      Lol… and you could see Alden was tempted to do it, because that Sackur deserved a sucker punch. That ignorant, facetious, trouble making -fool. Was always trying to interupt Alden from making his points clear, so the audience would still not have a clear understanding of Cayman. And trying to go back and use old un founded opinions of other old farts who swore they know what they were talking about. But thank goodness, Alden had some selfcontrol, because you see he was turning red and was seeing red. You tell what he was thinking. " Oooh I wish that camera would cut off right now, so i could educate you with my fists." lol

  4. Anonymous says:

    These comments show just how much many of the residents here have thier heads up thier arses. If cayman goes "automatic" with transparency, it is game over and you can kiss your 1.5 trillion, 60,000 population, nation goodbye. Try recouping all the money brought here through the financial services through tourism and watch Cayman turn into just another typicial carribean island.

  5. Whodatis says:

    Why do you "haters" continually embarrass yourselves in this way?

    Anyone that watched the interview saw that Alden handled himself very well – and in fact it was Sackur that was grasping at straws at numerous times throughout the interview.

    Hint: Cutting off your interviewee's astute response mid-sentence only to deflect or suddenly ask another question is not how it is done, Sackur, ol' chap.

    I know it irks many of you that once again Cayman and her representatives have shone on the international stage … but we honestly can't help it.


    You could always just leave though – take comfort in that wonderful option available to each and every one of you naysayers.

    Congrats Premier McLaughlin. You did a fine job as you stood tall in that den of lions – not only the BBC Hardtalk appearance but also your speech at Chatham (Babylon!) House.

    I have a newfound respect for you. I wish you and your government well for the remainder of your premiership and I implore you to keep an ear to the ground via the rumblings within the social media.

    There is where you will find the true feelings, opinion and concerns of the people you represent.

    Take care.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This interview was very difficult to watch and I was on the edge of my seat!  

    Alden came across as someone that doesn't fully understand what Maples does or what CIMA does.  

    The key here, the BBC interviewer banged on about tax avoidance, which isn't a crime.  That's all Alden had to say.  Tax avoidance is pefectly norma and legal.  Our tax information exchange agreements target tax EVASION, the real crime.  

    The Cayman Islands is a link in the structural planning of corporations and individuals who seek to minimize their tax ticket, and they achieve this because their home country's laws allow it!  

    Tax evasion by contract is the wilful non-disclosure and non-declaration of deposits or investments held in Cayman Islands banks or funds.  

    If the US or a European country suspects that this is the case, they will launch an investigation and by drawing on the tax information exchange agreement with Cayman, seek our assistance with the matter.  

    There is absolutely no need for Cayman to automatically exchange information that wasn't requested or mandated by agreement.  We're not the gossip kid on the block!

    In fact, what happened to the right to privacy?  Would we lobby to have everyone's medical information on the open market? 

    Tax evaders, Cayman will share your information if we have a request for cooperation.  

    Tax planners, tax avoidance is perfectly legal!

    • Anonymous says:

      You hit the nail on the head – and clearly many readers don't understand the concept either – what a shame!

  7. Anonymous says:

    If dat waz Bush, you wouldn't hear the end of it!

  8. Anonymous says:

    • Anonymous Thu, 13/02/2014 - 08:54 says:

      Sorry, but you've missing my main point.

      The fact is that most of the viewers do not know Mr. McLaughlin. The Premier didn't do this interview to convince those who recognise "his normal mode of communication". Rather, this was for global consumption aimed at convincing the nay-sayers and general public onshore who are not up to date on Cayman's regulatory regime. This is why the interview was done on BBC World rather than a local TV station.

      My point was that his speaking cadence (albeit his normal mode of communication"), body language and repeated swigs of water will be interpreted by the onshore Cayman-bashers differently than you would interpret them. I ponder to say they will remain doubtful. Alas, conspiracy theorists are hard to shake off.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry, but you've missing my main point.

        Your main point, which I totally appreciate and agree with, was hidden behind all your amateur 'body languahe' gobblygook so it was easy to miss.

        What you've failed to appreciate is that  this interview was not conducted to give McLaughlin or the Cayman Islands a fair forum on which to present its case.

        It was arranged to do exactly what Sackur tried his best to do, slander, discredt, provoke and instigate and to have McLaughlin 'slip up' and discredit himself and the Cayman Islands….and give Cayman's enemies ammunition to use against Cayman.

        My point is that your use of 'body language' in McLaughlin's case was totally false, while mine in relation to Sackur is totally accurate…go back and look at the interview again.

        If you actually knew what is going on out here in the UK and EU and what David Cameron is trying to do, you would put this interview in total perspective.

        Let me give you a little hint…Sackur's continually harping on about  Cayman's 1.5 trillion dollars of international financial business gives the game away.

        In the good old fashioned the way the British Empire was built…it doesn't take a genius to figure it out.

        Britain wants that 1.5 trillion dollars worth of international financial services business for themselves !

        And McLaughlin was very clear in telling Cameron through this interview…

        You will not get it without a fight !


  9. Anonymous says:

    I hope some credible NGO's are fact checking this.

    • And Another Ting says:

      Mr. Premier honesty is the best policy. You did extremely well for the first time on a world stage.  Like anything else there is room for improvement, relax ya self and speak in a rhythmic cadence, rather than sentences which seem to be jerked out of you.  Realize there was a fair element of nervousness, but with practice you will continue to improve. Do what you have been told before and get some public speaking lessons, it will serve you well.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hear, hear to "And Another Thing".  Media relations and comfort takes practice.  The more the Premier faces the press, the more comfortable he will become and the better he will do.

        Very few people could have done as well as he did, especially on foreign soil, on the world stage with a frankly rude interviewer. 

        He did well and we are proud.  What more can we ask?

  10. Anonymous says:

    The attempts to deflect allegations by cross-references to onshore businesses is not the way to go.  It came across as fairly standard pre-prepped answers given in an interview which was clearly seen as a "filler" slot.

  11. Knot S Smart says:

    Steven Sackur met his match in Alden…

    You did a good job in representing us Mr. Premier!

    Thank You…

  12. Anonymous says:

    I'm not sure I want to go along completely with all this high-fiving and back slapping.  Although he produced a better result that Mac would have there was still a lot to be desired.

    Alden spluttered and stammered, repeated himself and fidgited in his chair like he was in a hot seat. The editing repeatedly showed him grabbing a glass of water. Alden clearly looked nervous, often turning his head before responding and, overall,  his body language was not convincing. Some viewers will interpret this as "he had something to hide" despite the good points he was making.

     Mr. Premier please work on the cadence of your speaking and body language. These are critical for television.

    • Anonymous says:

      How wonderfully easy it is to criticize a job very well done when you couldn.’t possibly come near the achievement yyourself. It.’s called envy and ignorance of the highest order.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Congrats now please resume the local press briefings 

  14. Anonymous says:

    not really, he came across as somebody who could evade the obvious accusation that cayman is an off shore tax haven……… well done to alden for being a politician in avoiding the true accusation…….. the real intelligent viewer will see more…..

  15. Anonymous says:

    All this congratulating reminds me of the the Eddie Murphy starving for a cracker joke, i mean compared to the last premier anybody in that seat would look like a genious! 

    "If you're starving and somebody throw you a cracker, you gonna be like this: dang, that's the best cracker I ever ate in my life! That ain't no regular cracker, was it? What was that, a Saltine? dang, that was delicious. That wasn't no Saltine. That was… That was a Ritz. That wasn't a Ritz? dang, that was the best cracker I ever ate in my life." /smh

  16. Biggert says:

    Very well done Mr Premier. You acqitted both yourself and the Cayman Islands well on the big stage. You really are growing into the role of a fine leader. Do not let your haters and petty jealous men detract you from your destiny. You do not have to destroy to build like some others around here.


  17. McCarron McLaughlin says:

    Mr. Sackur tries to cast Cayman in a bad light, our Premier wasn't having that.

    This interview was nothing more than an attempted hack job, but Cayman was will represented. What he should be talking about is the "City of London" the main beneficiary of business originating out of Cayman, if Cayman goes the whole deck of cards come down AND THEY KNOW THIS!

    How could Mr. Sackur mention Cayman in the same breath with what happen in Iceland, it widely known that greedy bankers were arrested instead of being bailout by the Icelandic government and Iceland today has one of the most vibrant economies in the world, because they stood up to thieving bankers.

    Mr. Sackur and the British government need to put their focus on helping improve the way of life for their citizens and the world as a whole. 

  18. Anonymous says:

    So proud of my Premier. He did an excellent job, and no one should try to put him down for that. I bet not many of you critics could have done any better, proud to be a true born Caymanian and proud of our Premier. 


  19. SKEPTICAL says:

    Thank God for a senior government official (and Premier) who finally has the cojones to put his hands in the air and say – " yes, in the early days we probably did facilitate tax evasion  and money laundering" . For too long, it has been the "elephant in the room" that nobody was prepared to discuss, or more importantly admit. Crucially, as the Premier pointed out, to the best of our ability we have dispensed with that type of business. We are never going to spot every dodgy business proposal, but at least we can now be seen to bevtrying to avoid it whenever possible. There are few government officials in the past who could have coped with Stephen Sackur's blinkered questioning in what is the SuperBowl of investigative journalism, in front of a global audience – Mr McLaughlin did us proud.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Cayman should be extremely proud of Premiere McLaughlin…he's done a whole lot more than held his own…he's given an abbreviated tutorial on tax regulation bodiesthat Sakur knows absolutely nothing about.


    Sakur presented nothing more than rumour, conjecture and 'yesterday's new's..Obama's Ugland House statement was made years ago when he first took office;even Obama would be embarrassed to have himself qouted so out of date and time.

    What came through very strongly in this interview is the sheer envy that the UK and Sakur's ilk holds for the Cayman Islands..his continual reference to the 1.5 trillion dollars of assets held in such a small territory says it all.

    He is totally ignorant on global financial matters and should stick to topics that he has some knowledge of…frankly, he was an embarrassment to the BBC in this interview.


    Well done, Alden !

  21. Anonymous says:

    Can we get Ali G to interview McKeeva to get the Opposition's viewpoint?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Our premier showed high level of public discretion and a deep sense of professionalism. Congratulation.

  23. Anonymous says:



    Kinda da made me feel as if we are a tax haven … Someone else needed to go!

    • Anonymous says:
  24. Turtle Stew says:

    Way to go Bo Bo! Imagine if the other guy had went? We would probably be independent today!

    • Anonymous says:

      That's right…we'd be independent…..from Prosperity…Jamaica style with Mac on his throne.

  25. Anonymous says:

    love the line at about 21:45 where he asks if he really expects Cayman to be the moral compass of the world. great come back, you can't coach responses like that, you either have it or you don't.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Won't make a blind bit of difference to the left wing loonies who want ever more money to pour into the pockets of shirkers and layabouts or African dictators or the right wing swiveleyes who want to buy useless hi tech submarines and computer flown fighter planes just to keep the arms industry and its shareholders happy, BUT he did very well under harrassment of the usual BBC sort and all credit  to him. Thank the Lord Jesus Christ it was him and not Mr Bush.

  27. Anonymous says:

    To quote from someone else's facebook page, " Well done Alden. You did better than held your own. You also educated many persons on the issues and our position."

  28. Anonymous says:

    Well done Mr. Premier!!  You did really well.  As I said from the beginning, I knew that if you stuck to the truth, listen carefully when Sackur tried to twist your words you would be ok. I have worked in the financial industry now for over 30 years and from the earlier years we always knew who the beneficial owners of our companies and trusts were.  About ten years  ago it became mandatory that all issued bearer share certificates had to be brought bank on island and also that no further bearer shares would be issued.   However, I believe that there is no need to have that register public, because if the need arises for that information  it can be easily available, if it becomes a law then that is also ok,because our clients are legit and they are paying their onshore taxes.  These countries that  have income  and corporate tax  etc. should themselves put in place their own regulation to deal with their taxes instead of dependingz on  and trying to force IFS to do their, policing of their citizens. We are a neutral tax jurisdiction and tha t is how we run our businesses and that is the information that we pass on to our clients. It is not our responsibility to police other country's citizens.

    They now have all theTIES  that we have signed which is another vehicle for onshore governments to work from.  Mr. Sackur is just a big bully, he really .do not want the answers to his own questions, because instead of listening  to the replies he is constantly cutting off his guests on his show because his only Agenda is to dish out how he thinks it should be . I wonder if he is putting as much pressure on  his Prime  Minister to get Londonto tow the line.  The show reminds me of the  story of David and Goliath . congratulations Mr. Premier, you made us proud as I knew you would . Anyone out there who thinks otherwise, probably do not know anything about IFS and just plain do not understand.

  29. Anonymous says:

    He did a good job after all! Unlike “my heart is pure & my hands are clean”! I think if it was udp leader you would see him get too hot & fling mud & probably walk off the stage lol!

    • Anonymous says:

      Before that, though, he would have been riffling through a stack of paper, making notations and acting as though the questions were interrupting his homework.

  30. Anonymous says:

    It isn't "Steven Sacker" , its "Stephen Sackur". Just sayin'.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Sauckur looked like he himself was glad for the interview to be over as things didn't go down the way he had hoped (read badly).

  32. Anonymous says:

    Alden did a fantastic job in representing Cayman and I can say, without reservation, that he made me and many others proud!

  33. Anonymous says:

    I am sure he was well coached before he left here – but credit where credit is due, he did very well indeed. Congratulations Mr Premiere.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course his media advisers advised him.  Why should the go into the Lion's den unprepared.  All world class leaders do that.  It is par for the course.

      However, to maintain his equilibrium and continue to answer with such fluidity of thought, presence of mind, equanimity , with facts at his fingers tipped — not many world leaders could do that.

      It was a class act.  Well done!  

    • Anonymous says:

      you would be considered quite dumb, if you didnt cross your T's and Dot your I's before jumping on that show.. While I didnt share some of his own view points on how the situation would not negatively impact Cayman, I believe he did a great job at representing the country's view point on tax evasion issues. Well done Mr. Premier!

  34. Anonymous says:

    The whole thing is a a facade. Ask Alden as to whether he was in prior knowledge of the questions. Today's media treads a very thin line between credibility and downright deception. It is left to the consumers to decide the truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously you are one  who knows absolutely nothing about the topics being discussed. Please leave the space on CNS for those who actually have something worthwhile to say




    • Anonymous says:

      Just an FYI idiot, do some research, Hardtalk dont give any of their guests questions prior to their interviews…

      You mut b a UDP supporter, give the man credit, i forone am happy it was him and no Mac the gardner!!! ind you that wod be agrea interview.

    • Anonymous says:

      That's absurd. Why on earth would this particular interviewer who is noted for calling people out do such a thing?! If Alden had had prior knowledge his answers then he would have been able to more effectively explain himself. He did OK but room for improvement.

    • Anonymous says:

      I cringe to think of the mess mckeewa would have made of that.

    • Anonymoos says:

      Well this 'consumer' thinks you're an idiot.

  35. Foreign Devil says:

    Our Premier has made us proud, fabulous work sir. I particularly liked the Obamaesque finish when you flung into Mr Sakur's court it was people like him propagating the mith of  OFC's being the main offenders in money laundering and tax evasion. Bravo.

    • Anonymous says:

      What is a "mith"? Don't you read? When supposedly erudite posters garner thumbs up for murdering the english language, it's time we all move to Esperanto. I will close with this, " Uhl Banda Raziongi Maskwingi."  Good God people, pay attention in school or shut up. I am a human being and I approve this message.

      • Anonymous says:
  36. Anonymous says:

    Well done Alden. You did better than held your own. You also educated many persons on the issues and our position.

    So refreshing to have an educated, eloquest and intelligent Leader.

    • Anonymous says:

      "s' is not even close to "n" on the keyboard. Surely the poster was trying to say eloquent and not "eloquest". I am sick and fed up up of reading uneducated bullshit on this site. If you are going to post, at least post in a language that you know.

      • Foreign Devil says:

        Correct this spelling for me ahole.

        • Anonymous says:

          That's easy. "Tw*t".

          • Anonymous says:

            Considering how very close "*" is to "i" on the keyboard, we are prepared to excuse your typo, sunshine, but only on the condition that you promise to vent your domestic frustrations elsewhere in future.  

      • Anonymous says:
      • Anonymous says:

        That's because you're a two-fingered typist looking down at the keyboard to find the letters.

        People who type using nine fingers (can you guess which finger is not used?) and who don't look at the keyboard when typing at 60+ words per minute, are quite often going through the spelling in their head two or three words ahead of the current word being typed. This sometimes causes an incorrect key to be "hit" by mistake, and has nothing to do with the location of the key.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who cares…he is the premier, why  are we making such a big fuss on "he held his own", does the president of the US everytime he gives a speech or has to answer, does anyone say "heheld his own, good job"…makes Alden look like a real moron

      • Anonymous says:

        Fah real. Good point.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, for a start he isn't the president of the U.S. This entry into the Lion's Den was a first for one of our political leaders and many people here apparently expected/wanted him to fail. That he did not fail is a triumph.