AT&T agrees to stop TV ad shaming Cayman

| 09/01/2020 | 114 Comments
Cayman News Service
AT&T television advertisement with a negative reference to the Cayman Islands

(CNS): Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers has scored her first win in the campaign she announced late last year to go after Hollywood for misusing and abusing the image of the Cayman Islands in books films, TV shows, videos and commercials. As part of the AT&T’s phone service campaign, ‘Just OK is not OK’, one of the commercials took a stereotypical swipe at Cayman over tax dodging. But a letter from the Cayman Islands Government has led to AT&T agreeing to change the advert.

After learning that the ministry had contacted AT&T’s legal team, CNS contacted the giant telecom company and a spokesperson confirmed it had made a decision to redo the commercial.

“This ad was intended to be humorous and to remind people that we have America’s best wireless network according to America’s biggest test. We are changing the ad,” the AT&T spokesperson stated.

Following the positive response to CNS from AT&T, the ministry said they had not yet received the formal response but it was encouraging to hear that it intended to change the advert.

“Whilst we understand the advertisement was intended to be humorous, it is not acceptable to inaccurately represent the Cayman Islands and its financial services industry,” the financial services ministry stated. “The Cayman Islands is one of the world’s leading providers of financial services. These services are provided in accordance with international financial standards and the OECD rankings place the Cayman Islands on par with other countries such as Canada and England for transparency and tax information sharing. Any insinuation to the contrary is wrong and inaccurate.”

During the budget debate in the LA in November, Rivers said she planned to meet movie makers, script writers and others in the business of creating films and TV shows that still paint this jurisdiction in a negative light in an effort to enlighten them on the real Cayman.

See below the ad that will now be changed:

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Category: Business, Financial Services, Politics

Comments (114)

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  1. Batista says:

    I work in Fatca and trust me tax dodging still goes on and always will go on, its not illegal its just finding the right loop holes in the system.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just saw the ‘remastered’ commercial today. They simply removed the word Cayman and now it says only ‘the islands’. And now it’s an even more stupid commercial.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Clearly AT&T didn’t pull the Ad if they just changed the word. How is that a victory Tara? Weren’t the BOT’s going to stand united against this crap? What is the point of Cayman chairing all of these Caribbean neighbourhood conferences, when nothing ever comes from them? There should be a substantial pooled litigation fund with Cayman contributing one share of the total.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I saw this ad today, Sunday January 12, 2020 and it still mentions “the Caymans”. So AT&T promised CIG that they would change it but did they say when? I can’t imagine
    AT& T spending big $$$ to edit an ad just because CIG “threatened”. Their ad budget alone is probably larger than all of CIG’s so I doubt that this small-island Government scares them!

  5. Anonymous says:

    All y’all sitting on your backside watching pirates US TV feeds and complaining about the content. Oh the irony.

    • Anonymous says:

      To generalize an entire country based off one thing is idiotic. That’s like us making a commercial about rednecks and racist by hearing about how much that stuff happens in Alabama…so please hush

  6. Patricia Bryan says:

    I cannot emphasis enough how thrilled I am to read of the Minister’s bounty-hunt stance on this issue of the Cayman Islands’ representation through various different channels. Far too regular my kids and I have heard or read these mis-charaterations of the islands. It has become more frequent over the past ten years on so many different forums. At first we would get excited to hear our native islands’ names on shows, movies, sitcoms, etc. although not in favorable ways. Always about evading taxes or hiding money off-shore. Just to hear our islands mentioned by famous people. But it has become to flagrantly overboard. Even to the point of jokes by comedians. Very commonly mention in all variations of television/social entertainment. I had long wondered why was something not ever done…how can the islands always be portrayed in such light yet the government did nothing? Good for you, Tara, and those behind you. Many shareholders behind these companies including production and publishers, more likely than not have investments or assets in our jurisdiction anyway. I remember when Mitt Romney last ran for presidency former President Barack Obama revealed Mitt has offshore assets in the Cayman Islands…for it only to reveal President Obama himself had/has his assets there also.

    • Anonymous says:

      Patricia, Please tell us your source for Obama’s assets in the Cayman Islands?

      FOX News?

    • Anonymous says:

      Your (the Cayman Islands’) reputation for money laundering and corruption is well earned. You don’t complain now about those large Caymanian businesses or individuals who got insanely wealthy off the backs of crooks and tax evaders. Stop whining and pay for a legitimate tv service instead of pirating others.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is a difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion (you should so some research) Tax avoidance is legal and it is based on where the parent company is registered and agreements with subsidiaries. Maybe you should actually do research prior to opening your mouth. Also it is more difficult to open and account in the Cayman Islands that it is elsewhere in the world, I would know having accounts in three different countries.

    • Anonymous says:

      At the time, it was ABC News that revealed the link between Bain Capital and Cayman not/ not Barack Obama. Need to get your facts straight Patricia.

  7. Anonymous says:

    great job Tara….i saw the commercial this morning and it has been changed to just saying Islands, so way to be on top of such things in our world tdy that helps cast a negative lite on our great islands..

  8. Anonymous says:

    I can confirm they now say ‘Islands’ instead of the ‘Caymans’. They could have just said Delaware… maybe next time.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Everyone needs to chill.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The commercial is dumb to start with.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The people commenting here that Cayman’s “reputation” is deserved are either idiots, or do not work in finance. Cayman’s regulatory regime is one of the strictest in the world. OECD, FATF, BOR, CRS, FATCA, MLRO, Economic Substance. The US, UK and others do not adhere to these initiatives. Cayman does. OECD, FATF and others are made up of nations that Cayman competes with in the global financial industry, and these competitors are trying to eliminate the competition. Their goal is to make doing business with offshore jurisdictions so arduous and expensive, that offshore will simply fee itself out of existence. Come now, try to keep up.

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      So 11:22, give me the names of some of the Chinese and Russians laundering money in Cayman real estate? The regulatory regime is so strict that only a handful of people know their names.

      Come now, try and keep up on what is going on here.

      • Anon says:

        @12:04 pm, your comment makes zero sense. To purchase property in Cayman, there must be a financial transaction. If that transaction goes through a financial institution in Cayman, that money must clear Cayman AML/KYC before a Cayman financial institution will accept the funds. Those funds cleared KYC from the remitting financial institution. So the money used to purchase property in Cayman has been vetted by the Cayman financial institution receiving the money. How the purchaser got that money and how the purchaser entered that money into the legitimate financial system is of no consequence to Cayman. We’ve done our AML/KYC job on our end. Maybe Russians and Chinese truly are laundering money here in Cayman, but if they are their money was clean before it got here.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can assure you that the Russian money coming via the Channel Islands from financial institutions there is not clean. However, having said that, the Russians have some very sophisticated ways of fooling regulators, not only in Cayman but also in the BVI, UK, Canada and the U.S.

          Oleg Deripaska, Victor Vekselberg, and other Russian billionaire oligarchs are brilliant at utilizing our western financial systems to their advantage. We are fighting a losing battle.

      • Anonymous says:

        The names would mean nothing as they are names of companies solely set up for the real estate deals.

      • Anonymous says:

        12:04, You want to stop money laundering in real estate in the Cayman Islands? Simple. Do what the rest of the western world does. You have the individual names of the people who buy / own the properties NOT / NOT a bunch of companies set up to buy one major property through the Channel Islands or BVI companies.

        Come now, try and keep up what is going on here and have transparency in the real estate market.

        Why should only a handful of people know the names of who owns property here on this dinky island?

    • Anonymous says:

      11:22 When was the last time anyone faced court action here over breaches of the financial regulatory rules that were uncovered by a local investigation? Hearing some of the stories doing the rounds, it often appears the US Federal authorities know more about what’s going on here than our own regulators.

      Also, when you try to make comparisons with the UK and the USA remember this – they both have direct taxation systems in place that are in backed up by robust enforcement. Here nobody has to disclose personal income and as far as I can see local businesses are not required to produce any kind of annual accounts.

    • Anonymous says:

      I remember being just as naive as you

      There are alot of shops on the waterfront and on SMB thats used for washing money.

      Oh btw, I work in finance….

  12. Anonymous says:

    In the 1980’s, from the time I heard the then Member for Tourism extolling the benefits that the film “The Firm” was going to bring to the country, I was skeptical. My skepticism was based on the likely negative press we would have for the jurisdiction and the image it would create.

    It would be good to look in the archives to see what if any risk analysis was done at that time before granting the permission for the local filming. We continue to be a reactive society and place too much trust in others without verifying. Trust but verify should be the mantra with our dealings going forward regardless of who is involved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anonymous @ 10.20am if you heard this in the 1980s you must be atime traveller….the book was written in 1991 and the movie was released 1993.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I watched the commercial and don’t see anything wrong with it. What is the real problem? Justify Tara’s purpose? Otherwise it is tongue in cheek. Is everything now supposed to be so straight laced that we get offended for every little thing? Are we getting on that bandwagon too?

    Please don’t vote her back in and her stupid ideas. Good or bad we want visitors. These same visitors will try to open these accounts and see it isn’t possible. The ones that never visit will talk about it and it’s free advertising.

    Didn’t most extremely famous celebrities and wealthy people begin from unscrupulous origins? Well they leveraged on that free advertising and built on it. That’s what I thought us – the Cayman Islands – was doing. Leveraging off of that reputation and building a better one.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ahh…someone has seen that the emperor has no clothes on. All those financial services laws. Done by a Ministry of people who just guess as to what to do. They are so incompetent yet they know not. Check out the conference the Ministry held at the Ritz yesterday. Blue print for government mediocrity.

    • Anon says:

      Good job, Tara!

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s free advertising whether it is positive or negative. Jamaica gets a lot of free advertising, do you think they care?!

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think they care about anything.

    • Anon says:

      The clear implication is that Cayman encourages and permits illegal financial activity by welcoming and tolerating criminals and criminal behaviour. Is such a negative reputation, particularly an undeserved one, really something you are posting that you would like? Would you like that being said about yourself personally? Is this what you would like friends and strangers alike to think of you yourself? So why do you think it is okay to have it disseminated by an ignorant third party [for their own financial benefit] about you, your family, your heritage, your friends, your fellow countrymen/women? For goodness sakes, wake up!

      • Al Catraz says:

        And the clear implication of Jamaica’s media reputation is that you can smoke weed there. You think that drives US visitors away? The type of criminals tourists are worried about are not financial ones. Fyre Festival got people to pay thousands of dollars to visit “Pablo Escobar’s Island”, for crying out loud. Cayman can’t attract the likes of Bryan Adams, of all has beens, for a return engagement.

  15. Anonymous says:

    cayman doth protest too much, methinks….

  16. Dwene Ebanks says:

    Meanwhile, Caymanians are in court trying to get beach accesses registered. How nice eh? Oh we can quickly respond to threats for the FS Industry, rightfully so or not, but leave the Caymanian people struggling to even have access to their birthright. Clap clap clap clap clap! Take a bow or curtsy now, Ministers!

    • Patricia Bryan says:

      I wonder if it could be that Government likely has more rights to circumvent anything related to the sovereignty of the crown, and not as much to the personal properties of investors who have spent millions to purchase property and invest in the islands?? If the laws permits the beach access to belong to the property bind it that may not be such an easy fix–seems to be. Laws would likely have to be revised. Lawsuits could be levied against the governments. Not one. But each owner along the water. Millions of dollars. It seems there has to be some negotiating coming into play. No one hardly wants to give up their right-of-way/ease of access; certainly not the wealthy, who pay big…to have these amenities. We must speak up though to persuade government to address this matter. Natives and residents really no longer have access to some of the best beaches on the islands for this reason. Not to swim. Not to even wall along the headline. I myself have been on the beach and saw owners looking out as if monitoring who actually walks along the waterline in front of their properties. This I don’t believe is just. I don’t believe so at all. While owners should enjoy their ownership rights, so should we as the ‘owners’ of our islands overall.

  17. Anonymous says:

    We have a corrupt financial system here. It needs to be transparent.

    • Anonymous says:

      The corruption we need to focus on, is the real, not imagined kind: gross conflicts on our Boards, in Cabinet, collusion with developers and certain senior public servant corridors. There we have career dishonest, still grafting their way through life, and directing misinformation smoke screen campaigns using our money! Enact SIPL, enable the whistleblowers and give the agencies power to investigate these relationships, payments and secret side-deals!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not the financial system it’s the political system. Enact SIPL and bring in new blood.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why are we getting all bent out of shape when it’s true? If not then let’s implement the SIPL for some transparency. Thought not.

  19. Anonymous says:

    But it’s true. We really do hide money for sleazy tax avoiders.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fair that we used to, and not that long ago.

      • Anonymous says:

        Still do, just do it according to law. Middle class and lower suffer from the super greedy.

      • Anonymous says:

        Um, we still do. It’s legal for US companies and millionaires to stash cash in Cayman and other such places to avoid taxes. It’s totally unethical and immoral for them to do this when Americans making 30 or 50k per year still have to pay taxes, but whatever. This is what happens when the US Congress is full of rich people who primarily represent the rich. They make the rules, they reap the rewards.

        There are also some very bad world leaders who have money here. And I mean VERY bad, as in killed/tortured many people and looted or are currently looting their countries. But it’s technically legal and money is money so we do it.

        -Ugly truth

        • Anonymous says:

          10:15 Last time I looked at this the big winners were the Chinese. They’re routing cash flow through these islands and not just evading taxes but cashing in on tax breaks by moving money back into China as investments.

        • Anonymous says:

          You must watch a lot of TV.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tax avoidance is not illegal…

      • Anonymous says:

        Only idiots and those with a vested interest can’t recognize that it’s wrong that rich can avoid taxes but not the poor.

      • Anonymous says:

        Unreported “sleazy” is illegal, if it exists at all. Anyone here working that line stands to go to jail themselves. The fact is, the Cayman Islands haven’t been a “private banking“ haven of any consequence for decades. That’s the crux of the PR problem when there are TV shows inferring there are “secret accounts” and complicit infrastructure supporting a fictional industry.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Caymans reputation is justified. Caymanians are the only people who think its not true. No surprise.

  21. Anonymous says:

    The unity team, always using their time wisely. 🙄

  22. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    I have to admit…… when I saw the original story about Tara Going To Hollywood, I thought it was a farce, and a waste of money.

    Well done, Ms. Rivers. It’s a start. We have been labeled as the bad guy in numerous movies and also political pundits’ prose. It’s a bunch of nonsense.

    Right now, if I wanted to open up a new bank account with the institution in which I’ve been banking for decades, it would take tons of paperwork and more than a little legwork. Someone coming into the Cayman Islands wants to open up an account, they have to devote weeks to the process (unless, of course, they are of the chosen Few).

    From what I understand, the Midwest U.S. is the “new offshore”; we have had enough, leave us alone.

    • Anonymous says:

      Big Beau, There you go again. Head still in the sand on Seven Mile Beach. “Its a bunch of nonsense” you say. You obviously have no idea what is going on around you related to financial matters. There are a number of legal ways of doing financial matters here without opening a bank account.

      Cayman’s reputation is fully justified. We do hide money here for Chinese / Russian and others, particularly in real estate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Real Estate market is rife with money laundering. Cireba cartel don’t care about that though.

    • Anonymous says:

      Her trip is a waste of money, this change was achieved through a few phone calls and emails, no need to spend public funds touring Hollywood with an entourage…

    • Anonymous says:

      Beau, All decisions related to A T & T for advertising are taken out of their headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Wonderful that Tara got an all expense paid trip to Hollywood when Hollywood has nothing to do with this. Weather is wonderful in Hollywood in January.

      This could only happen in the Cayman Islands.

  23. Anonymous says:

    She should encourage Alden to respond to letters or help him write them.

    How is this news when the Cayman’s government were proud to assist with the filming of the movie the Firm starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman which officially endorsed the stereotype?

    • Anonymous says:

      To5.26 It is news because Cayman has implemented tons of new laws to fight that practice. Todays laws and regulations are tougher than UK or USA

    • Patricia Bryan says:

      Wasn’t that a different administration then? And a different time? Maybe no one wanted to tackle it back then? Maybe it wasn’t such an over-powering concern then? Maybe more locals or persons who are aware, are complaining? Whatever the reason I am glad she’s taken the initiative, and do not let it slide. I would venture to say it is because of these types of exposures that scammers have turned to the Cayman Islands as a venue for their schemes over the past few years more than previously. Who knows. Don’t ease up, Tara. Don’t shelve this at all. Follow through.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Why? It remains true.

  25. Anonymous says:

    should have left it running. free advertising. no matter what we try to do, the rest of the world has the perception that Cayman is a financial tax haven.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Good job Ms. Tara. All the haters can put this in their pipe and smoke it!! Nothing ventured, nothing gained is what my Gramma used to say.

  27. Anonymous says:


  28. Anonymous says:

    The irony is that AT&T has been criticized for having moved 16,000+ lower and middle income US jobs to offshore call-centers in 2017, while banking $20Bln in US tax cuts.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Showtime Tara wha a mess!

  30. Anonymous says:


  31. Well, about time. says:

    This is long over due. Steps should have been taken to defend the reputation of these islands since Grisham’s “The Firm”. The Cayman Islands is a legitimate member of the global financial industry and any implication to the contrary by the media or Hollywood must be defended rigorously.

    • Anonymous says:

      They got away with it then, but now with all the law suits flying around they better look out. We could probably get a good bundle out of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      3:39 pm – you must be the life of the party!

  32. Anonymous says:

    This is so dumb. They filmed part of a movie here about money laundering in the Cayman Islands remember? It was called The Firm. If they wanted Cayman to look good why didn’t they stop it back then?

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman is a very different place than it was then as well……

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes and by your logic people who are black should still be slaves and be whipped in the middle of town.

      Finally we are learning from history and pushing back against falsehoods. If they are going to talk nonsense then let’s challenge them head on

  33. Juniper says:

    Ad was just on TV 2 minutes ago.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Won’t be real news until we see the new ad!

  35. Anonymous says:

    Looking at a gift horse in the mouth…. Free Advertisement… You think the people that are interested in the T commercial really cares about whether the Cayman Islands have stopped the money laundering (they haven’t). Do you really think by not airing the T commercial that folks for one second don’t believe that the Cayman Islands is/was used for money laundering or hiding out drug money at one time? (No one pitched a bitch when it was lucrative for the country in the 80’s and 90’s)

    Just keep trying to do the right thing… You cannot change the past… Clean up Government… Still as crooked as it comes.


  36. Anonymous says:

    Yeah so A multi billion dollar corporation that has caused immeasurable and irreversible damage to the Cayman Islands reputation gets to “change” the ad (probably to something more damaging) and doesn’t even issue a formal apology. Yep we sure showed them !

  37. Kim says:

    Excellent! Well Done Tara!

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