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Cayman's Travers Rebukes International Misrepresentation

by Jason Gorringe,, London

17 April 2013

The Chairman of the Cayman Islands' Stock Exchange Anthony Travers has condemned allegations made by Austria's Finance Minister Maria Fekter that the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands have received illegitimate money flows, disinformation which is going unchallenged by the G20.

Under pressure from European heads of state to adopt the automatic exchange of banking information with the rest of Europe, Austrian Finance Minister Fekter sought to deflect scrutiny of the nation's banking secrecy laws by pointing out that, in her opinion, the group of twenty nations had failed to challenge the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, which she claimed in the past had facilitated money laundering activity.

Denouncing the comments, Travers, who is also Managing Partner at law firm Travers Thorp Alberga, stated: "I am deeply troubled that the meritless attacks on the Overseas Territories by Austria's Finance Minister Maria Fekter appear to be gaining traction. Furthermore there seems to be no contrary assertion from the UK Government and the British Chancellor George Osborne as to the true position... this is an attack based on mischaracterization."

"A cursory review of the publicly available statistics under the European Saving Directive which established fully transparent proactive tax reporting shows bank deposits in Cayman of EU residents of a statistically irrelevant US$25m."

Travers argued that: "The correct answer to Fekter should have been that the Overseas Territories already demonstrate full tax transparency. Given that the UK tax authority HM Revenue and Customs has full treaty access to Cayman accounts for UK tax purposes, the provisions of FATCA are simply duplicative, wholly unnecessary and will raise no additional revenue."

"I can speak with authority on the Cayman situation but it has not escaped my notice that Chancellor Osborne has also attacked our friends in BVI which has similar tax transparency with the UK and the USA."

"He should know that the BVI has an extensive network of some twenty one tax information exchange agreements providing for complete tax transparency notably to HMRC and the IRS; that they are concluding the FATCA negotiation with the UK, and the US, and that they are considering moving to proactive reporting with the EU under the Directive."

"Cayman (and BVI and Bermuda) regard tax evasion as firmly off the table and yet we are continually labeled tax havens, a term that has become synonymous with illegality and wrongdoing," he continued.

"Our measures in Cayman far exceed the tax transparency available in Austria (and many other places including the US) and yet we find no rebuttal from Chancellor Osborne, rather the contrary."

Concluding, Travers stated: "One can only gaze in awe at the misinformation being promoted by a UK chancellor and wonder why he appears willing to assist the French and Germans in their avowed quest to irretrievably damage The City of London's global dominance."

TAGS: Finance | Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) | tax | investment | business | offshore confidentiality | interest | fiscal policy | FATCA | law | banking | international financial centres (IFC) | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | Virgin Islands | tax authority | offshore | agreements | banking secrecy | Austria | Compliance | Tax

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