Cayman to bring fight over BO to local courts

| 23/05/2018 | 17 Comments
Cayman News Service

Premier Alden McLaughlin and Governor Anwar Choudhury

(CNS): The premier has said that the Cayman Islands will resist the Order-in-Council from Britain if it seeks to impose a public beneficial ownership register before the rest of the world adopts this model of transparency. Alden McLaughlin said that having taken advice from leading constitutional lawyers in London, the government will not seek a judicial review there or challenge the UK law, which requires the British Overseas Territories to have the registers before the end of 2020, in the British court system but to press the case here in Cayman’s courts.

McLaughlin explained that based on discussions with a number of leading QCs, including Jeffery Jowell, who assisted in the drafting of the 2009 Constitution, and Lord David Pannick, the government would make its legal challenge to the Order-in-Council that would be imposed by the UK and fight the case in the local courts.

He said that under no circumstances would the Cayman government engage with any British officials that may seek to establish a public beneficial ownership register. “We are not going to cooperate in any preparation of a register; we will not amend the law,” he said.

McLaughlin committed to continuing to exchange information with the UK and other international law enforcement and taxation agencies in the fight against financial crime and corruption. But he said Cayman now sees the exchange agreement on beneficial ownership, which the jurisdiction had agreed with the UK previously as an alternative to the imposition of a public register, as no longer valid.

He said the UK’s vote in parliament imposing the public register invalidated that agreement and system. Government would now look closely at how that is working, McLaughlin said, adding Cayman would move to a voluntary exchange and continue to act responsibly on the international stage.

“We are not intending to step away from what we regard as our responsibility to assist with the fight against financial crime and global corruption but the precise terms on how we co-operate, based on the exchange of notes, is another matter as there are some problems with it,” he said, adding that Cayman was now freed from the earlier obligations under that agreement.

McLaughlin emphasised the difference between privacy and secrecy and the jurisdiction would resist an open register, not because the change would bring down the local offshore sector but because it was wrong, discriminatory and inappropriate.

He said the clear advice was that Cayman’s best course of action is to challenge any decision by the UK to impose the register through local legislation in our courts. McLaughlin explained that challenging it in the UK would bring a different set of problems and issues relating to the law there and arguments around parliamentary supremacy.

“We intend to win,” he said, emphasising why the legal fight in Cayman would be preferable to one in Britain.

McLaughlin also said that Cayman remains more than two years away from the deadline and the regulatory landscape changes quickly, so anything could happen. He repeated what Cayman has always said about public registers, that when it becomes a global standard Cayman will implement an open register too, but not until it is on a level playing field.

Related article: Cayman seeking constitutional changes

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Category: Business, Financial Services

Comments (17)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Where is our local and overseas financial marketing and PR people that we spend so much moolah$$ on?! Their inaction has led to this misconveived reputation.

  2. Anonymous says:

    alden is a big lodge member…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Our out-classed leadership doesn’t know how to negotiate. Instead of squirming and flailing like an obstinate adolescent, 180 degrees opposite the global Zeitgeist backed by a decade of equally failed Cabinet PR, we ignore the extraordinary opportunity to remodel our already-announced beneficial ownership regime. We should have professional adults in high-level talks collaborating to redefine the definitions of “In-scope Persons/Entities”, UBO percentages, and “lawful disclosure” to satisfy all stakeholders. We could actually set the disclosure standard for the planet – repelling any bad actors, and satisfying MP voters, while protecting healthy business from curious monkeys. Let’s get some adults working on an acceptable solution please. What we CANNOT BE DOING, is looking like we are changing our constitution to shield a deliberately criminal industry, which WE know doesn’t exist. The rest of the planet, sadly, remains misinformed and unconvinced by anything less than full disclosure.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good post

    • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

      8.58 am having read you post, I must disagree with what you are trying to say. I believe that our Premier is spot on in his approach to the constitutional problem. How could we contest the matter in the UK courts? That would be tantamount to admitting their cart-blanche freedom to rule us by writing our laws for us. Recognise one thing, that while in the UK, Mr. McLaughlin was able to access the brightest and most experienced legal and constitutional minds, who are very likely sympathetic to the Cayman cause. Also, the fact that the House of Lords did not kick the proposed legislation straight back downstairs is simply because they did not wish to embarrass Theresa May who is hanging onto power by her fingernails, and they know that the proposed changes will never ever pass a proper legal and constitutional test, and so they avoid getting May’s blood on their hands. Note that promptly after this, May appointed a bunch of new peerages to secure the support for Tory policies in the House of Lords, and avoid future embarrassment in that forum. Bottom line is, it appears to me that our Premier is approaching the challenge as any good lawyer should.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So Alden’s plan is to do nothing for the next two years?! Even if we eventually ‘win’, we will have lost by then…

  5. Anonymous says:

    And what jurisdiction does the Grand Court have over Parliament when making an Order-in-Council?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, no kidding. Coming soon…another failed billable to Dr Steve McField.

    • Anonymous says:

      Following the tradition of parliamentary supremacy as we do here in the Cayman Islands, the Grand Court has the same power to declare an incompatibility with the Bill of Rights as the UK Courts do. It is basically an official declaration by the Court that the Legislative Assembly is permitting human rights to be transgressed and an instruction to them to do something about it. All of our politicians are united. All territories are united. How is the UK going to maintain its position in the face of that? It would be rank hypocrisy and wilful harm to diplomatic relations with the 250,000 people that make the saying “the sun never sets on the British Empire” still true. Do you want the UK to do this or something? I love how all the Brits have come out in favour of losing their jobs because it’ll be their countrymen who closed their employers. It’s frankly hilarious.

  6. Diogenes says:

    Wonder if they are going to take the opportunity to amend section 49 of the Constitution
    Mckeeva has already publicly stated he would support changes to the constitution in that regard

    Whether or not the government is interested in that change in particular I am sure, any of
    the changes likely will be made without any public input or consultation, and I highly doubt the changes will be limited to the relationship between the legal relationship between the UK and Cayman. They will take this opportunity to change anything they have found irritating or restrictive in the last 9 years.
    We shall see the areas that are amended and what concerns this government really has, protecting the financial services industry and our legislative independence or bolstering their own positions

    We shall see

  7. nauticalone says:

    Agree with you Hon Premier!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good, sounds like Alden may actually be growing a pair.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Fight BO! Shower daily and use a good deodorant!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Load of crap. This is just another exercise to gouge the public purse at the expense of innocent people.
    You people need to stop your shit.
    All this is is Freemasons enriching Freemasons.
    Your game is so obvious.
    I am surprised that more people have not caught on yet.


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