Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

CAYMAN ISLANDS CONTINUE TO DRAG ITS HEELS ON BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP AND SHARING INFORMATION



The two senior leaders of the Cayman Islands are still offering excuses as to why they will not agree to abide by the UK order to make available to the public a register of the Beneficial Owners of the island's corporations by 2020. They assert that it will harm their local corporate services industry, if they become transparent before the rest of the world's opaque tax havens, but in truth and in fact, unless Cayman willingly become transparent, it will be imposed upon them through an Order in Council from the United Kingdom, which after all is its sovereign. (They also want to retain an intermediary local agency's permission, before sharing any information with foreign agencies, which detractors allege is an attempt to delay an investigation, and which could give criminals time to move their dirty money).

The other argument, that such an act is not legal under the existing Constitution, because Cayman has local, domestic autonomy, candidly does not wash either, for the external consequences of its corporate secrecy affect foreign affairs, in which the UK has sole jurisdiction. Read the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act, gentlemen.

Finally, these threats to seek independence from Britain are obviously nothing more than a bluff. The biggest selling point Cayman financial services professionals pitch to foreign investor clients is the legitimacy and permanence of the Crown, which passes down to its Overseas Territories. If the Cayman Islands became independent, the corporate flight, especially the 600+ hedge funds domiciled there, would be massive. 

Given that the last twelve financial scandals in the Caymans have not resulted in a single local criminal charge, nor the recovery of foreign investments lost through fraud, the UK is correct in insisting on total and complete transparency, to identify, name & shame, and charge the fraudsters and other financial criminals who use the jurisdiction to perpetrate their dark craft. Compliance officers need to know precisely who owns and controls Cayman companies, so that they can properly advise their clients, be they banks or private investors, of the risks involved in any financial or corporate transaction contemplated there.

The Cayman Islands needs to come out of the shadows, and rendering their prized corporation industry transparent is the best way to insure that it happens. Otherwise, foreign businesses seeking tax advantages, and their capital, would be safer elsewhere.

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