As published on caymannewsservice.com, Tuesday 17 May, 2022.
The Cayman Islands is no longer the Tax Justice Network‘s most secret jurisdiction. The British overseas territory was rated number one in 2020 and number two in 2021, but this year it has dropped way down to number 14. The United States is now number one, Germany is number seven and Britain itself is number 13. The TJN said that Cayman dropped to 14th place in this year’s rankings after disclosing data showing that the scale of financial services it provides to non-residents was lower than expected.
The TJN has turned its attention to the onshore larger economies and, as successive governments and the financial services sector here have consistently claimed, it found that they are just as secretive as offshore jurisdictions, which TJN has previously viewed as traditional tax havens. It also found that it is in those countries where the serious financial crime is occurring.
The non-profit organisation now says that anyone looking to hide their ill-gotten gains will find the United States is the most helpful.
The TJN uses a number of criteria to rank countries, including the financial and legal systems that help people and entities conceal ownership of assets. The report said the USA’s new position at the top of the world ranking was due to its refusal to exchange information with other countries’ tax authorities — the opposite of Cayman, which is revealing much more information to the authorities, though this does remain hidden for wider public view.
Despite the lower ranking, the TJN said that an “oversized volume of wealth” was being sent offshore to this jurisdiction. Cayman also remains on the EU grey list and is still facing challenges in some areas relating to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
As result, the diplomacy work to change the perception of the Cayman Islands overseas continues. Financial Services Minister André Ebanks is currently leading a delegation for meetings in the UK and Europe with key stakeholders on subjects including global tax cooperation, anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.
“We’re continuing face-to-face discussions because it builds understanding, and keeps communication open and transparent,” Minister Ebanks said in a press release ahead of his departure at the weekend. “However, in addition to these visits, the ministry’s senior policy staff keep in contact with stakeholders as much as possible via email, telephone calls and video meetings. This lays the groundwork for more productive discussions when we do have in-person dialogue.”
The meetings offer stakeholders and the Cayman Islands Government an opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest, such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, and to identify areas for further clarification and updates, officials said.
The delegation includes Parliamentary Secretary Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, Deborah Bodden and Gene DaCosta. Following the UK/EU engagement, they will join representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) for the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Switzerland next week.
“Attending EBACE will give the ministry team insights for potential regulatory developments in aviation, and give CAACI support for their business development initiatives,” Minister Ebanks said.