(CNS): After around 13 meetings with various European Union leaders and technocrats, as well as officials from direct member states, the Cayman Islands delegation led by the premier is still waiting to hear whether this jurisdiction has “passed muster” to prevent any more blacklisting. Premier Alden McLaughlin, accompanied by Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers, Attorney General Sam Bulgin and government officials, will be leaving Europe this weekend to go to New York, but a press release from his office indicated that the team had met with dozens of people in an effort to press home the message that Cayman is compliant with all international standards.
“Whilst the EU delegation was not at this stage able to provide any insight on whether the Cayman Islands had passed muster and would avoid being blacklisted, they did not mention anything glaring that has so far concerned them,” McLaughlin said in the release. “However, we are taking no chances.”
He said the EU officials told the delegation that the legislation passed by the Cayman Islands and other jurisdictions in December 2018 is still being assessed by the Commission for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, and they committed to advise the Cayman Islands technical team of the outcome once the assessment is completed.
“The extensive engagement throughout the week in Europe, at the EU level as well as with representatives of several member states, including the influential French and Germans, was important to help ensure that those in the EU Commission, and in some Member States, who decide on these things, or who make recommendations to the decision makers, understand fully that we take our role as an international finance center seriously,” McLaughlin stated.
“We will continue to adhere to the evolving international standards. It also assisted in a better understanding on where some states were in their thinking,” he added.
The delegation also met with representatives from the government of the Netherlands, where concerns regarding its recently issued blacklist were raised, including the lack of engagement with Cayman prior to the list being published and the rationale for including this jurisdiction. But the premier did not reveal the outcome of those discussions.
Minister Rivers said the delegation had been directly engaging with the EU for almost two years, both at the technical as well as the political level, including some eight visits by her or the premier.
“We have worked with financial services partners at home in crafting the legislation and I am proud of the work we have done and for the support of industry,” she said. “In addition, we have consulted with the EU along the way to ensure that the elements that they were seeking to be in legislation were present. In short we are collectively doing what we can to maintain a vibrant financial services business for years to come,” she added.
Regardless of previous and these latest efforts, Cayman is still not out of the woods and in addition to waiting on the European Union decision, it could face further individual state sanctions. Another recent blow is that the government may not be getting the additional time it was led to believe it might have over the controversial issue of beneficial ownership.
While the FCO and the governor had indicated that the registers would not need to be in place by 2020 and that they could have until 2023 to address that sticky issue, Parliament has objected and it may well be that the registers must be in place by the end of next year otherwise an order-in-council will be issued.
As the premier and his delegation continue in their efforts to promote the reliability and stability of the offshore sector here, the pressures continue. But after tying up meetings in Europe Friday, the delegation will head to New York ahead of the Cayman Finance Breakfast Seminar next week, where McLaughlin will deliver an address outlining Cayman’s commitment to meeting all international global standards.