Cayman seeking constitutional changes

| 23/05/2018 | 66 Comments
Cayman News Service

UK and Cayman Islands flags outside Government Administration Building, George Town

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government, with the support of the opposition, is entering into dialogue with the United Kingdom to change parts of the Constitution relating to the territory’s relationship with Britain. Premier Alden McLaughlin said he had already spoken with Prime Minister Theresa May about clarifying and amending parts of the Constitution to prevent Britain imposing its will and legislating on Cayman Islands domestic issues in future, following the recent passage of a UK law that will have a direct and unwanted impact on Cayman’s financial sector.

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, following his return from London, the premier set out his plans for fighting the imposition of a public beneficial ownership register in the British Overseas Territories before it becomes the international global standard. But he also outlined plans to address the constitutional issues that the move by the UK parliament with this law presents for the Cayman Islands.

McLaughlin said the government needed to enter into a fresh set of constitutional discussions to “avoid this type of constitutional overreach in future”. He said the matter had already been raised with the prime minister and she had agreed about Cayman and British officials entering into talks. McLaughlin said he had the support of the opposition and he would press the issue when he goes to London again next month for the Pre-Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meeting.

“We are striving to have elements of the Constitution clarified and the ability of the UK to legislate for us restricted,” he said as he outlined the proposals he would be making to amend the Constitution to protect Cayman from British overreach, pointing to the Bermuda’s constitution as an example.

McLaughlin is proposing to remove the current section that deals with the powers the UK has to legislate for the territories and replace it with a much stiffer clause that would only allow Britain to make domestic legislation for Cayman in very serious circumstances, such as a breakdown of law and order. He explained that he wanted to clarify the Constitution and restrict the UK’s power to issues relating to international affairs and only when Cayman is in breach of international standards.

“We want to remove that ability for the UK to be able to randomly legislate for us,” he said. “This matter extends well beyond the issue of beneficial ownership registers or the broader financial services sector. If the UK feels emboldened by what it has just done and believes it can do it any time it doesn’t like something here or it wants to impose something on us, it is not just the financial services industry at risk but our very existence,” the premier added.

He pointed to local immigration laws, voting rights and who can stand for election as areas that the UK might want to interfere in and begin to impose legislative changes that would “threaten the very basis on which Cayman’s system is built”, McLaughlin warned, noting that government is going to challenge what has happened regarding the registers and seek to prevent future over-reach.

“The position of the Cayman Islands Government is that this attempt by the UK parliament to legislate for us is unlawful and we do not accept it, and if the British government proceeds to Order-in-Council it will be resisted,” he said, adding that between now and then Cayman would seek to amend the Constitution.

In an usual display of unity, the premier was joined at the press briefing by Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller, who has said that on this issue the opposition stands “four square” with the premier to protect the sector and amend the Constitution.

Miller said he agreed with the premier’s proposals to seek amendments to the Constitution. “I always feared that the UK may use the ‘nuclear option’,” he said, adding that not only have they have chosen to exercise it, they have done it in a discriminatory way which will strengthen the legal case when Cayman seeks to resist the Order-in-Council through the courts.

But he said he supported the dialogue on changes to the Constitution, which as proposed would “go a long way to mitigate future actions”. Miller was also concerned about the precedent this move by the UK was setting.

“If they get away with this act, there is no telling where they would stop,” he said, as he also raised voting rights. “We know that there are forces in community that want to see changes that we could not tolerate to who can vote and we can’t allow ourselves to be out-voted at the polls,” Miller said as he offered his support to McLaughlin’s plans.

Related article: Cayman to bring fight over BO to local courts

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Independence may sound inviting to those that don’t understand the serious irreversible financial consequences that come with that package. Perhaps an understandable situation when the public hasn’t been given a clear or square financial picture for the territory – ever. Rest assured, it would include a credit downgrade so swift and severe that we would be re-classifed from investment grade to near junk overnight, default would be inevitable, black-listings would follow (and may be coming anyway), and ultimately, exclusion from the international payments and settlements systems for our flagged entities. There would be no business as usual.

    • Anonymous says:

      Guess you should get on the plane if you aren’t prepared to fight for our way of life.

      • Anonymous says:

        You still don’t get it do you? You won’t have a way of life, plain and simple. It won’t be down the the likes of those who generate your income, it’ll be down to your hopeless politicians and the electorate, most of whom haven’t got a clue.

    • Anonymous says:

      And all of that may be coming anyway, especially now that all the authorities who would do us harm know that the UK will not stand up for us. So what is your point? You sound like someone sitting on a lot of money given what’s at stake. I still have a whole career to make mine.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Correct me if wrong but he is seeking a restriction to legislate, not independence. Before writing off Cayman as a basket cause, it is worth looking at the state of major economies like UK, US, France etc, with unaffordable debt levels, eye-watering taxes, and little growth. It is their complete failure that makes places like Cayman a target for this legislation. The strategy is clear: rather than sort your own economy, undermine others with spurious legislation and slander, and then hope the money flows back. The UK may be ‘mother’ but this is undoubtedly economic warfare. I’m with the Premier on this one!

  3. Totally DISGUSTED with Govt disingenuousness says:

    The govt and all elected members of the legislative house should know, without a doubt, any and all changes to the constitution can only be effected through the electorate voter process.

    I’m not too too sure that majority of Caymanians want this change.

    Then again, the 2009 constitution does not clearly define who’s a Caymanian.

    It would be in the best interest of all those who call themselves “Caymanians” to insist that the premier and the opposition seek this change first, as a urgent priority.

    Further, once the constitution is changed to properly define “Caymanian”, then Mr. Premier & opposition, please amend the immigration law according and stop meddling/amending it to suit certain causes.

    This constitutional change is most urgent as it would, not only provide clarity on how the board should base their decisions, not only speed up the application process, not only eliminate the mess that’s currently before us, but adequately provide fit & proper governance for the best interest of all who are now considered as Caymanians, future generations and for all who wish/hope to become a Caymanian.

    Whilst the topic of changing laws is at hand, please make the ‘inheritance law’ a fit & proper law instead to automatically binding our wealth to that of the matrimonial law, where our homes and inheritance are threatened, challenged and/or lost through legal battles in divorce.

    When is our govt ever going to protect Caymanians first and foremost!!???

    Remember Mr. Premier, you said that Caymanians should not be nationalist……why are you bringing this constitutional fight to us now!!???

    CNS: Could you not leave the caps lock on when you write a comment, please. I have changed this one but I usually delete them. Thanks!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Playing into the Uk’s hands, if Cayman loses it’s financial sector, then it will be a huge burden financially to the UK, with mass unemployment, huge government layoffs, and a nice fat bill for all the infrastruture “improvements” that have happened.

    If they get Cayman to go independent then they will save themselves not only billions, but also political goodwill at home.

    Can you imagine if a UK party had to bail out Cayman, UK voters would be in an uproar.

    If you don’t think Cayman will be in trouble if it loses its financial sector, remember that most of the government is funded by work permit fees, company fees, stamp duty etc.

    Close to half the population would leave, destroying revenue from import duties and levelling the housing market.

    Most of our government workers are Caymanian, with a massive drop in revenue, the government would be forced to layoff thousands of Caymanians, with few jobs for them to bew rehired into, and few relevant skills in the tourism sector that would have to support them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even with our UK-backstopped Aa2 rating, the CIG continues to skirt the limit of PMFL, fails to account for money-spent, refuses to enact Standards in Public Life, and denies over a Billion in redacted liabilities owed to healthcare and pensions. Cayman will have to go to market and re-negotiate terms on over $250mln of existing debt coming due in late 2019. We are a fiscal sham on a loosing trajectory with the status quo. Independence talk only accelerates our appointment with destiny. The UK will happily wipe their hands of this train wreck, while our clueless MLAs continue to revel in their kleptocratic fantasy world.

      • Anonymous says:

        We haven’t borrowed in years. Are you willfully ignorant of the tremendous problems other economies have gotten themselves into by treating foreign capital like free money? We have real needs; we aren’t borrowing 100 billion pounds to pay for every whim and fantasy the UK electorate dreams up. They might be stupider than we are. At least we get exposed to the rest of the world. Who appointed you the representative of the UK? So much wrong with your post I can’t even be bothered to fully address it. You should know that my generation of Caymanians is educated overseas and well alive to your manipulation, denigration, and colonial attitude of willful harm to Crown territory. You should be deported immediately.

  5. West Bay Premier says:

    I think that the Premier is starting to act like how I see children doing to their parents today , child telling the parent what he want to eat , and do , and in better words the child being the parent/leader of the household.

    • boggy sound man says:

      It will be best for Cayman to ask Mr. Dart to take us over. He has the money and power, plus will create a Shangri-La for both the upper class and the lower classes. That will solve all our problems then.

      • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

        10.02 am Is that really the best you can contribute to this debate?

      • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

        10.02 am is that really the best that you can contribute to what should be an intelligent debate about an important national issue? If “yes” then God help us!

      • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

        10.02 am is that really the best that you can contribute to what needs to be an intelligent debate on an important national issue?

      • Anonymous says:

        That is a wonderful idea as the financial industry would flourish under a Dart run country. They also would crack down on all the rampant corruption as they would then take over running the country as they run there businesses. I for one am all for it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Absolutely makes sense as look at everything the Dart group have done on this island. Seems like a few do not like it but having Dart take over as a independent country would have us in a strong position and all financial industries would flourish. You have my vote.

          • Anonymous says:

            Corporations taking over Islands, countries? Yeh, that will end well..

          • Anonymous says:

            Those with firsthand inside experience collaborating with DART companies would be quick to correct your misplaced apotheosis. Confusion, mistakes, and course corrections aplenty among those few entrusted to make decisions.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The UK and the Cayman financial services industry are one and the same, that was entirely the point of Cayman in the first place. So what do you think’s going to happen if you go independent and lose your UK credit rating, London chooses to move its business elsewhere, financial services offices relocate due to financial and political instability, the UK expertise leaves for safer climbs, and Jamaican yardies really do invade this defenceless rock and cause total anarchy?
    Like it or not, believe it or not, the UK is still a world player when it comes to projecting both soft and hard power around the world, as the Russians found to their cost when the UK pushed for sanctions in regard to Georgia, Ukraine, Syria and latterly the Novichok scandal. British diplomatic power is still potent as is the the power of its small, under funded yet professional military. It is one of a few military forces that can project huge numbers anywhere in the world within a very short time frame. Even the mighty Chinese can’t do that.
    So basically, like us or love us, (we really don’t care either way) you are in an exclusive club that you’re better off in than out.

    Of course, you could make lots of noise, get an audience, nothing will change and you could just go for independence anyway. Your choice.

    • West Bay Premier says:

      People watch them that they don’t take the Constitution changes too far and make some changes you won’t like . It pertains to money and power that they want to make changes for .

    • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

      8.16 am you are way off course. This is not about independence! It is about amending Cayman’s constitution to limit the extent to which the UK can create laws for Cayman.
      If Cayman loses this tussle, what the hell next? Our Premier is batting to protect Cayman, you don’t need to be abusing him for doing his job! I honestly think that there is far too much rabid and toxic political bias motivating far too many CNS posters. For goodness sake can we have intelligent debating on this forum?

      • Anonymous says:

        You appear to miss the point my friend. Your constitutional change is directly linked at this point with the financial services industry and could end up being the crunch point so many believe needs to come.
        This is not an independent country and the UK has every right to ensure that it’s interests on its territory are well served. The only way you can change that is to push for independence because despite the bull and bluster we hear from the deniers, you don’t have a choice. Whether Alden cooperates or not, these registers will happen and the UK and the EU will ensure further measures follow as necessary.
        You were warned before, the financial services industry will change one way or the other and no amount of mouth breathing from playtime politicians and their loyal rabble will make any difference to the inevitable.

        • Observer says:

          6:13 pm: you are so uninformed it is pathetic.

        • Brexit Boris says:

          You are absolutely correct. What is so unfortunate, the people do not understand our status as a British Overseas Territory.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Alden doesn’t have the authority to change the Constitution whenever he feels like it. Our politicians need a swift reminder that they are public servants!

    • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

      7.24 am very obviously you do not understand how this works. No, the Premier does not wish to ” change the Constitution whenever he feels like it.” as you put it. It is simply that you first need to seek agreement from the UK govt. to any changes that you propose, and if you reach agreement, then you have to follow the constitutional process to make the agreed change, knowing full well that if the UK does not agree, you simply cannot do it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The United Kingdom is Cayman’s Nmom. If you don’t know what an Nparent is, consider yourself lucky that you haven’t gone down the internet rabbit-hole reading about those being raised by narcissists. An Nmom is a Narcissistic Mother.

    The characteristics of an Nmom are:

    1. Everything she does is deniable. There is always an excuse or an explanation. “Oh, this will cut down on tax evasion and money laundering.” We all know it won’t, this is a deliberate measure to attack our business for our Nmom’s self interest.

    2. She violates your boundaries. Our rules and independence can be lost at the drop of the hat. Our property is given away without our permission. Rules are enforced on us without being consulted, and without our consent. The Nmom tries to establish that what we have is not really ours in the first place – like our sovereignty.

    3. She favoritises. Narcissistic mothers commonly choose one child to be the golden child. What is the FAVOURITE destination of money launderers? Just so happens to be where the lovely House of Parliament is. God forbid our Nmom crack down on money laundering in London, home of the UK’s riches. Why are the BOTs the scapegoat child? How can the UK vote for Brexit on the grounds of sovereignty and then pull this bull?

    There are so many more characteristics. From destroying your relationships, to having no awareness that other people even have feelings, to being envious, and self-absorbed. The list goes on.

    The UK does not care about us, and I think which should go NC (no contact), no need to JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain ourselves – it just gives the Nmom more fuel). What orders from the council?

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree to everything you wrote. I used to date a guy like that. What a torment he was. A real Nguy!

    • The U.K. will not amend the Constitution. If they did it for Cayman they would have to do it for all the Overseas Territories. The only choice is independence if U.K. will not change the Constitution. Would not recommend independence, but we must be prepared for a much lower standard of living after 2020.

      • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

        7.36 am you should read the article properly first!!! Not all BOT constitutions are the same. The article refers to Bermuda’s constitution being different with regards to the UK’s ability to legislate for them. I believe our Premier is attempting to negotiate with the UK to prepare the way for Cayman to amend it’s own constitution, having the UK’s blessing beforehand. Common and practical sense. Then, after that, Cayman has to follow it’s constitutional legal process to change Cayman law. This has almost zero to do with other BOT territories, although I am sure that they will be watching very closely to see how it unfolds, as they may well wish to follow suite to protect themselves from the UK’s “remote control” legislation.

        • Anonymous says:

          Bermuda’s constitution has not prevented Bermuda being included in this with all the other BOTS (plus the UK, the rest of the EU and other EU countries OTs). The Crown Dependencies have avoided it so far, because, unlike the BOTs (sorry), the UK Parliament does not, for historical reasons, have the right to make laws for them. They are also not part of the EU, so Brussels has no authority over them either. They have, however implemented a UBO Register and will eventually have to provide “public access”, subject to whatever they decide is “legitimate interest”.

        • 2:54 am I did really the article properly. I recognize that all the constitutions are not the same for all BOT’s but they are similar in many ways, however, what I am saying is that London will be in no mood to start changing all of the BOT constitutions. When one BOT starts changing their constitution all the other ones will want to change their constitution too. All BOT’s are impacted by the new legislation.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Never. If Cayman is a territory the right to impose legislation from Parliament at a national level on any issue is a necessary price.

  10. nauticalone says:

    Agree with our local MLA’s here on this completely!

  11. Anonymous says:

    PPMBOT as hard as it is, do not also be guilty of your own discrimination.

    Give credit to the Leader of the Opposition, MLA Ezzard Miller for promoting and supportig a revision of the Constitution.

    Thank you MLA Miller, the first effective Public Accounts Committee Chairman!

    The PPM Chairmen were all asleep at the wheel.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ivan was having meetings and speaking on the talk show in reference to getting a constitution like what Bermuda has, but it went on deaf ears. We finally woke up and are now seeing that we do need a constitution like Bermuda – I totally agree with this and think that this will benefit the island on a whole.

  12. Anonymous says:

    All of you crabs out there need to be thankful we have someone like Mr. McLaughlin to represent the Cayman Islands this perilous time. Unfortunately I can just imagine the ignorant comments that are about to come.

    • Anonymous says:

      Certainly on the international stage I agree with you I think Alden is doing a a very good job in very difficult times and Cayman should be proud.

      If he could just get a grip of the chronic nepotism and stop the piers nonsense he might have the same standing on home issues.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its called rub my back, Irub yours only but for freemasons though…everyone else is crab to them. Therefore, open your eyes Crab…them vs. Us.

    • Anonymous says:

      When the UK withdraws credit support for our one and a half Billion PPM-fueled liability book, including $419mln due Nov 2019, we’ll see who the ignorant ones were. Month to month, this Cabinet (much like previous, of roughly the same composition) can barely make payroll. They have the forward planning horizon and financial savvy of school children. Our grandchildren will be paying for their shortsightedness and ego.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am glad that finally our politicians have understood what the U.K., has done. For the last 30 years there have been little hints that the U.K., didn’t give a rats behind about this territory. We should have prepared more for this outcome, however all is not lost. For the most part most of the members of the government and opposition are smart honest persons, they now need to work together with the private sector to catch this curve ball thrown by the U.K. It can be done and further more it must be done. I believe If we are to build on our reputation and good character as a country, ( I say country because that is inevitable) more than ever we will need smart persons of good reputation and good character. We need to put away hatred and maligning of others who might have a different idea from ours and listen to each other. Government and opposition are equally elected Caymanians and all hands are needed in deck. There is no more time for pettiness and insults hurling accross the isles of the LA. The Speaker needs to realise that he should be neutral and respect should be given to both opposition members as well as government. He is the person responsible for setting the right tone in the hallowed chambers of the LA. Anything less is bullying and is unacceptable and only undermines the unity that is needed now more than ever. Anyone who cannot be a part of the solutions will definitely be considered part of the problems and conflict. We are writing a new chapter in our history, it is now up to each of us to be able to look back and be proud of what we have written.

    • Anonymous says:

      David Ritch said twenty years ago it would no longer do the job for us to elect policitians based on personality. These are the results.

  14. Slacker says:

    If we are going to “revisit” the constitution, let’s not only focus on the financial sector, but address all issues. There are many reasons why the bar for passing was set so low, and in the end, was not approved by a majority of the electorate.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only one main reason: to prevent the ignorance and indolence of the majority of the electorate from preventing meaningful change for those of us who pay attention and give an agouti’s backside. The theory goes that those who don’t vote have declared their indifference, so there is nothing wrong with requiring a majority of those who vote. A majority of those registered to vote is appropriate for dramatic constitutional change (reorganisation of the country). For everything else, it’s more than enough to ask those who can be ordered to get out of their hammocks to express their view and count those views. Stay in your hammock, lose your voice. Your choice.

  15. Jim says:

    Dear Folks,

    An attempted change in our Constitution will either mean 2 things are coming upon us:

    #1. Independence; or,

    #2. Dictatorship (Full British Rule)

    If all else fails, I would rather a responsible route for Independence – than have our government LA dissolved under a Governor Dictatorship like what happen in Turks and Cacois. Because under such a rule, they may just CRIPPLE us for good to a mere colony!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Same old shit. Just another dip into the public purse so the Lodge brothers can get their boats or their next apartment in Miami.
    People, wake up.
    There is nothing good for you here. Why the hell don’t you hold your leaders accountable?
    This is another disgrace.

    If you think Miller is opposition, think again.
    He is “controlled” opposition and occasionally says shit just to make you think that he actually cares.

    He is Lodge, the same as McLaughlin. They both need to come clean. This is an abomination.

    How long before we wake up?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Im for it as long as it nips this beneficial ownership registers in the bud, as that threatens our economy. But if it is more smokes and whistles then whats the point, we won’t have a future.

    • Anonymous says:

      Worldwide beneficial ownerdhip and blockchain will bring accountability and reduce corruption!

      • Anonymous says:

        Unfortunately, if it’s not happening anywhere else, then it’s tantamount to economic suicide.

        • Anonymous says:

          It is though. It’s being imposed on the rest of the BOTs as well as the OT’s for the other European countries. It’s as a result of the EU’s 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5), which obliges all EU countries to maintain registers and to cross-register UBOs with the register in the country in which the UBO resides. The UK has a public UBO register (as well as many other public registers), so do most EU countries, though some are hiding behind the definition of “legitimate interest”, to restrict public access to a demonstrable “need to know”. This is expected to be transitional (as it is for the Crown Dependencies) and could be for the BOTs if they muster their legal arguments for equitable treatment. It is coming, however, Cayman can’t get away from that

          If anyone is seriously interested, try reading the actual debate in the HoC as recorded in Hansard (warning – it’s a long read). Many argued against imposition, in favour of persuation

          An interesting summary of the BOT’s position by John Penrose MP:

          “The overseas territories have been resistant to this argument for three reasons. The first—let us call it the Dutch Antilles argument—is that if they have open registers, all the hot money will head off to other less law-abiding jurisdictions. Leaving aside the issue of whether any decent person should wish to handle hot money obtained through corruption or worse, the fact is that the international consensus is to bear down on such havens, and their footprint is narrowing. Indeed, havens that embrace such transparency will secure a business advantage precisely because their legitimate business will no longer be tainted by fears of the reverse. There is an understanding of this point in at least some of the overseas territories, which, if I may put it this way, camp on the prayer of St Augustine: “O Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.”

          Note the line “the international consensus is to bear down on such havens”

          and “havens that embrace such transparency will secure a business advantage precisely because their legitimate business will no longer be tainted”

  18. Uncertain says:

    Well now … then again, that’s IF the UK approves of our proposed constitutional change.

    They always have the last say.

    • Anonymous says:

      As of course they should. Cayman wants it both ways as normal…..the benefits of being a UK territory in terms of the finance industry but at the same time wanting to effectively be independent. Just like the older child still living in their parents’ house but wanting to set the rules. Cayman needs to grow up and get its head out of the sand. If you expect to be able to completely control your own destiny then go independent – if you have the nerve to do it ! Caymanians happy to take the free UK passport but don’t want the UK involvement. That’s naivety of the highest order.

      • Anonymous says:

        About the free passport, don’t know about you but I paid for my passport that was offered to me, which I accepted. I used it once, went through England on my way to and from Switzerland. Stopover in London three days, enjoyed it, but had no desire to live there or even go back for a visit. Besides that, the only thing offered to me by the mother country, was a pencil with a tin foil crown holding an eraser on the top to comemorate the crowning of the queen way back when I was in primary school. The U.K. , can get it back when they return the ten dollars that I gave to the late Bert Watler when he was collecting money to help with the Faulkland war. Heck I cringe now when I think that I really did that, what can I say, Bert could be very persuasive!,

        • Anonymous says:

          You may cringe when thinking of paying a few dollars towards a just war in which a sister BOT had been invaded, but I bet you like the safety of knowing that our sons and daughters would die for you if some banana republic decided to invade here.

        • Anonymous says:

          Good, now surrender that passport and shut up.

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