Beneficial ownership issue left open ended after JMC

| 03/12/2015 | 29 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cayman Premier Alden McLaughlin (left) and BOT Minister James Duddridge

(CNS) UPDATED: The Cayman Islands and other overseas territories have agreed to hold beneficial ownership information in their jurisdictions via “central registers or similarly effective systems”, according to the communique released by the FCO following this week’s meeting in London with territory leaders and the UK government. The agreement on the thorny issue appears to have been left open-ended without the feared pressure from the British to make the registers public. 

In a statement released by the premier’s press office, Alden McLaughlin said, “Our position on beneficial ownership, and our zero tolerance position on corruption and illicit activity, remains unchanged.” He said there has been a mischaracterisation of the issue of beneficial ownership and of public central registers being the only solution for sharing of information.

“We have effective mechanisms for the sharing of information for tax purposes both on request and by automatic exchange of information,” the premier stated. “These mechanisms have been assessed and blessed as being in accordance with current international standards.” He added, “From any objective perspective, we are transparent for tax purposes and we collaborate to avoid an abuse of our system by criminals.”

In the communique the British overseas territories leaders collectively stated, “We agreed that addressing this issue would be given the highest priority and that progress on implementation would be kept under continuous and close review.” the communique states. A technical dialogue is now expected between the territories and UK authorities on developing a timely, safe and secure information exchange process for law enforcement.

Staving off either a publicly accessible register or even one that allows the UK law enforcement agencies direct access to information without a request of any kind was a commitment made by Alden McLaughlin before he set off for London.

“The significance of this JMC, and the mark of its success, is that we have advanced a mutual understanding with relevant UK agencies,” said Wayne Panton, the financial services minister. “The core issue for the UK and its territories is to further enhance our cooperation on investigations related to serious crime.”

He said that Cayman had invited representatives from the UK’s National Crime Agency and the Serious Fraud Office to engage with the Attorney General’s Chambers and the financial intelligence unit here in order to improve effective and efficient collaboration.

The communique also confirms public statements made by British Prime Minister David Cameron previously that it was not appropriate to refer to British overseas territories as “tax havens”, an official acknowledgment that will be welcomed by the offshore industry. The territories with financial service sectors, including Cayman, have also all committed to be early adopters of the new OECD global standard on tax transparency, with first exchange of data taking place in 2017.

Meanwhile, coming under fire in the UK from various NGOs such as Transparency International for not going far enough, the FCO’s BOT minister, James Duddridge, told the UK media that “an enormous amount of progress” had been made over the past few years on financial services transparency, but the technical side of implementing such information sharing was “tricky” and that there was no timetable yet for implementing any registers.

The agreed formal outcome of the London meeting covers a wide range of other issues, and while all of the agreed commitments will not directly impact Cayman as much as the issues regarding the offshore industry, agreements on the environment may be another important factor.

Against the backdrop of plans that threaten to destroy acres of unique and ancient coral reef structures and other marine habitat in the George Town Harbour in order to construct a costly cruise berthing facility, Cayman has committed to protecting natural resources.

The territories have agreed with the UK to create an Overseas Territories’ Environment Ministers Council to “enhance dialogue amongst all territories … and encourage them to meet annually to drive the environmental agenda in the wider context of small states and islands.”

The goal is to share scientific research and information. The agreement acknowledges that  the territories are vulnerable to climate change with coastal erosion, severe weather events and flooding, and the need to better understand the risks. The communique also outlines the importance of the marine environment to island communities.

“We recognised that long-term sustainable use of marine resources is a key element of overall marine conservation strategy for the overseas territories. Together we will strive to enhance the management of the marine ecosystem alongside local traditions and sustainable marine usage across the overseas territories. We affirmed that such enhancements must be based on the best available scientific research, must deliver clear objectives,” the agreement states.

See communique here.

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Category: Politics, UK

Comments (29)

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  1. Rhett says:

    Cayman needs to stop protecting those foreign tax evaders instead of protecting their criminal activity. These are the employers who find ANY loophole to not hire Caymanians, or fire them without cause (accepted by the CIG). Who, prey tell, is running the Country? Or better, why are they given carte blanche to run the Country? They will still stay if forced to adhere to all laws in the land of milk and honey and tourism.

  2. Hmmm says:

    So…why didn’t Alden and Wayne simply say no to Central Registers until the UK, USA and all others agree to do it? Why did they agree to the OTs’ doing it alone ? Are we saying that the OTs’ are the leaders and the USA and UK follow them ? This situation does not seem right

    • Anonymous says:

      Festering parasitic micro-nations using dodgy transfer-pricing and facilitating frauds worldwide does not seem right either.

      • Anonymous says:

        Except the point the previous commentator was making was why don’t the USA and UK implement the same mechanisms considering that they are host to the largest cases of “dodgy transfer-pricing and facilitating frauds worldwide”. As much as you may hate Cayman and like jurisdictions, you’d be blind and a hypocrite to not realise who makes the rules that allow such practices to continue. If the systems already in place were utilised correctly, there would be absolutely no need for this.

  3. Anonymous says:

    USA and their media ‘impartial’ news outlets spare no punches labeling cayman as a criminal haven. I truly believe some of the tourism advertising budget would be better spent informing the world and the general naive American population that within there own backyard (delaware) the same business is being conducted in a much more obfuscated way. It’s high time Cayman financial sector stand up big and bold and call America out on their hypocrisy and stop playing mute .

    • Anonymous says:

      The US believes in rule of law
      Cayman believes in what it can get away with

      • Anonymous says:

        So please show the public US beneficial ownership register for their companies.
        Delaware is a money launderers heaven. You can buy a company and set up its bank account all on line with no identification.

        The US has little belief in law, they only believe in profit

  4. Anonymous says:

    Presently US law enforcement have to apply to the Grand Court to get information about account holders and beneficial holders of companies here in Cayman. Many times they come on a fishing expedition, no evidence, casting a net hoping to land a big fish. This is invasion of privacy. If the UK wants to go ahead and open up their directories to US law enforcement, they are free to do so. However, the minute we do the same thing, we run the risk of companies and individuals leaving this jurisdiction for more private shores. The UK seems hell bent on dancing to the tune of Washington, and thereby destroying its overseas territories economies. As soon as the US opens up Delaware and other jurisdictions which do the same thing that Cayman does, we will comply.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not going to be a decision for local governments as it is considered a matter of national importance.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We really ought not to have a problem with a central shareholder and director register so long as there are intelligent people manning the gate and local businesses have been doing a professional job. Unfortunately, past (recent) performance by CIMA and other gov’t “watchdogs” has proven that intelligence is rarer than we think in these key positions of authority. If there is no application to the court to access private company docs, we have to put an enormous amount of collective faith in those gatekeepers that the originating request is from a legitimate party for a purpose other than to satisfy mere journalistic or pet theory curiosity. We also have to have faith that Cayman’s corporate administrators long ago purged any toxic clients, are doing good clean client business for good folks, are up to date on all KYC, and are not exposing the islands to future headline risk. This will be the acid test.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Now you see why they wanted Mac out. Alden is there for one reason and our children we be around to suffer for it.

  7. Soldier Crab says:

    To Anonymous at 1.30

    Do you really believe Mac could understand more than half of the words in the communique?
    Unfortunately it appears that most of the commentators on this story are equally ignorant.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s times like this that with all of his faults one misses Mac

    • Liverpool says:

      Explain beneficial ownership for whom Alden? if UK is involved that could mean the US using the UK to instruct us to spy on our big clients for the US to extradite them and shake them all down to give the money to Wallstreet as the US is broke the dollar about to crash so these pirates are sailing around the world piratising the Caribbean just like they did 200 years ago! we must stop them and not cooperate with them but I don’t think Alden is strong enough to stand up to them. Alden is worried about businesses leaving Cayman if they enforce regulation to give Caymanians work but this meeting of his with the FCO is frightening where we could lose it all and our worst nightmare happens, but is Alden bright enough to see this coming right at him?
      Alden please explain in full detail, strategywise etc what they really want and how we can be affected we want every detail.

  9. Operation Victory Success! says:

    The use of ambiguous words and phrases do nothing but hide the level treachery that has taken place?

  10. Quid Pro Quo says:

    The PPM have merely delayed implementation. This matter will become clearer after the 2017 elections when all will be revealed.

    Do not be surprised to find FCO approvals for all the capital works projects especially the 400 million financing for the cruise dock now that PPM have capitulated to UK demands. This is called trading a promise for a promise.

  11. Raffael says:

    Spot on Revelations 3:45 what a joke??? Yes “similar effective Systems” set up by them with storage in a data base which belongs to them and manage and oversight by their moles and spies yes “Technical Dialogue” Cayman it is “Left Open” wide Open for their eyes and abuse only. How sad none are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. A pile whisperings of sweet nuttin and Fluff from a puppet we call a premier.

  12. Anthony says:

    The UK will destroy our industry then give us the independent boot like what France done to Haiti. Alden have no balls, he is the weakest leader thus far. Wake up Cayman…..Wake up!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    There’s nothing to sell. It’s Britians island, and it’s going to happen, end of story.

  14. Revelations 3:45 says:

    This communique is the a politically correct version that means the FCO have gotten the BOT’s to agree with their position. BOT leaders now have to go back and sell this deal to their voters. They will be given a timeline for full implementation but this is a done deal!

    We anxiously await the response from Premier Alden McLaughlin and his explaination of what happens next and why he agreed to this position. If the PPM agreed to this Cayman is being put at a competitive disadvantage so what is the point?

    So much for protecting Caymans interests

    • Anonymous says:

      Revelations: Did you never study comprehension? Go read the Communique and the Premier’s statement and have your mother explain to you what they mean.

      • Anonymous says:

        Silly rabbit this politics at the highest levels give it time to sink in Cayman have been allowed to save face for now. The UK’s demand for implementation of a central registry is inevitable.

      • All Seeing Eye says:

        “There is none so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see.”

      • Anonymous says:

        I bet this poster is the proud holder of a degree from the “University of Life”.

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