Country Rankings - Cayman Islands
Feb 19, 2015 Cayman Islands: Also Accused, WronglyWell done Bermuda and the Cayman Islands for exposing Ed Miliband's threat to blacklist tax havens with constitutional links to Britain for what it is: a political sound bite. In case you don't know who Ed Miliband is, he's the leader of Britain's Labour Party. And the way the opinion polls are shaping up, he could conceivably end up as Prime Minister after the May 7 general election, albeit in a weak minority or coalition government. So Miliband's comments cannot be written off completely given he could soon get the keys to Number 10. But his offshore barb does betray a certain ignorance of the issue he is attempting to address. Listening to Miliband, you'd think the OECD had never thought about blacklisting a tax haven before. But it's been almost 20 years since the first blacklists were issued, and the overwhelming majority of offshore jurisdictions now meet or exceed international standards on anti-money laundering and tax transparency - which is more than can be said for some "onshore" jurisdictions, as Cayman Finance's Antony Travers pertinently observed in his rebuttal. We can't of course rule out the possibility that the goal posts will move once again and new blacklists will emerge. And the OECD does like a list. But if Miliband thinks he can click his fingers and the OECD will jump, he's being a bit naive. Or just a politician. There is an election to be fought after all, and as luck would have it, the vilification of fat cat tax dodgers has emerged again as a popular cause.
Dec 05, 2013 Cayman Islands: crownedThe OECD's appointment of the Cayman Islands to be vice chair of the Peer Review Group of its Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes comes across as a case of turning the poacher into the gamekeeper, although no doubt the Cayman Islands would be highly affronted by such a comparison. And the anti-offshore brigade will be grinding their teeth at the transmogrification of their precious hate object into respectable police-island. We can merely congratulate the world's third-biggest accumulation of capital at its cleverness in negotiating the shoals of international financial governance, and wonder at the influence which has accreted to the unelected, rich country quango called the OECD. It's not the only world body which has mysteriously and almost accidentally acquired power on such a scale (FIFA springs to mind as another example), but it is one of the most prominent. Other major institutions counting as global movers and shakers such as the World Bank and the IMF are directly financed and supported by their member countries, but the OECD seems to have acquired independent existence, albeit paid for by member country subventions, and unlike the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO (all three being Bretton Woods creations) it has no scripted, universal role on the international stage. And that's worrying.
Nov 14, 2013 Cayman Islands: being transparentNovember 8: The Cayman Islands signed an intergovernmental agreement with the United Kingdom on November 05, 2013, laying the foundation for the automatic exchange of financial information about UK taxpayers who hold accounts in the Cayman Islands.
Jul 04, 2013 Cayman Islands: wordyNow this is very unfair, but I am going to punish the Cayman Islands (don't get your hopes up, Chairman Baucus) for issuing the longest-winded content-free response to the G8's call for "action plans" for establishing transparency in beneficial ownership etc etc. And this wasn't an easy competition to win: country after country, and rock speck after rock speck, took to the rostrum to deliver interminable and unconscionably worthy diatribes. Like many of them, Cayman said it was already doing everything it should, but supported everyone else in any case. Why bother to say anything at all? The UK had to be up front, given Premier Cameron's support for the G8 initiative, and said it would instal a beneficial ownership register; but I really have to wonder what this means – there is already a requirement to list shareholders on the public company register in the UK, athough of course a shareholder can just be listed as, for example, Rich Woman (Cayman) 2012 Ltd. How can the UK force out the fact that Rich Woman (Cayman) Ltd is owned by the wife of the last mayor of Moscow (just illustrative, of course) if she lives in Switzerland and operates through a Liechtenstein trust? So it's another case of hot air, smoke and mirrors. Are there elections coming up anywhere? That's usually the explanation. As the only person in the world who doesn't have an offshore bank account, you don't have to feel very threatened.
Apr 25, 2013 Cayman Islands: gets a pass markThe OECD has given the Democrats' ritual hate-object the Cayman Islands a clean bill of health in its "Phase II" inspection of the jurisdiction's actual information exchange process. This is the more challenging one, looking at how things happen on the ground, and few countries pass it first time. Cayman also announced this week that it was negotiating a Model 1 IGA with the US Treasury in order to implement FATCA. All this is relatively easy for the islands given that they are in so to speak the carriage trade, patronized by banks and hedge funds rather than by London taxi-drivers or even Belgian dentists. The islands are relatively inaccessible, very wealthy and extremely expensive to do business with.
Feb 28, 2013 Cayman Islands: fights its cornerFull marks to the Cayman Islands for hitting back at critics after the territory received yet more unwanted publicity during Jack Lew's confirmation hearing. But just maybe it would have been better to keep a stiff upper lip. Cayman and all the other low-tax investment destinations used to have a policy of maintaining as low a profile as possible. Those days are gone, not least because intense spotlights have been shone on them by the OECD, the FATF, the Congress and so on, but also because they are being forced to compete with one another for business. Recent political scandals haven't helped, either. There is no connection between McKeeva Bush's alleged wrongdoing and hedge funds, but the affair won't have helped public perception of the islands. Clam up, guys and gals!
Feb 14, 2013 Cayman Islands: makes it simplerMention Ugland House on Capitol Hill and they probably whisk you off for interrogation; this is the famed building in Cayman covered in so many brass plates you can't see what it's made of underneath - gold bars probably. So opening a company in the Cayman Islands capital, George Town, is easy, right? You just sit down with your nominee director in the cafe opposite with two rum punches, he brings out a ready-filled certificate of incorporation, you sign it, and that's it. Oh, and you give him a gold bar, of course, to add to the 18,867 he's already got. Not a bit of it! The Cayman business community is agonizing over the level of government bureaucracy and red tape, and the new Prime Minister is promising to do something about it. Promises, promises. It will mean another law, of course, called the Ordinance To Simplify Laws; but at least they're making the right noises. One thing's for sure, though: the gold bars won't get any smaller. And FATCA won't help, either: this week the jurisdiction moved a step closer to adopting IGA Model 1 to comply with the new rules; that's another form to fill, and no small one at that!
Jan 10, 2013 Cayman Islands: plunging ever downwardsWhile the BVI ends 2012 smelling of roses, its companion Caribbean destination the Cayman Islands is smelling of something distinctly less sweet. This traditional hate object for Beltway Democrats seems to be getting it all wrong, and had a simply terrible year in 2012. For all I know, the defenestrated premier is being 100% traduced, but in PR terms the affair has been a disaster for the islands, and at the minimum you have to say that the government has been cack-handed in its running of the economy, with multiple budgets being shot down by the UK Foreign Office, and the imposition of a compulsory recovery regime. There is nothing wrong with the financial sector, which is booming away as usual, but that just makes it all the more extraordinary that the government got itself into such financial trouble. If any one statelet in the world should have money coming out of its ears, it should be Cayman.
Aug 09, 2012 Cayman Islands: takes a step in the wrong directionThe Cayman Islands isn't exactly a country, although they probably think they are. Anyway, being against nationalism on principle, I am certainly not going to take sides in that debate. They are an independent actor on the international stage. Well, not quite: the UK can still force the Cayman government to act in a fiscally responsible way, and has just done so. It's amazing to me however that a place with such an overwhelming mass of banks and hedge funds and with more cash in its balance sheets than any other country in the world bar possibly Switzerland, could be short of money. There must have been incompetence, to use the kindest possible word, on a grotesque scale to achieve such a result. And what do they do about it? Why, of course, they punish the foreigners, that's right, the ones who have brought them their lush life-styles in the first place. They are not the only Caribbean territory to have resorted to such xenophobic tactics, but it's negative. It's a small matter, the new tax that is being invented, but it is the thin end of the wedge. Well, overnight and just before publication they have back-tracked, and now seem likely to abandon the expat tax. They still get a black mark though, for even thinking about it in the first place!