The Cayman Islands Government has not received a letter from UK Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband regarding the Labour Party’s intention, if it wins the UK election in May, to force the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to implement public registers of beneficial ownership.

‘Cayman therefore can respond only to media reports about Miliband’s insinuations regarding our beneficial ownership regime,’ said the Minister of Financial Services, Wayne Panton.

The Minister noted his surprise that a UK elected official, who should be well versed in the current discussions on this important topic, would attempt to publicly distort the reality in light of readily available, third-party assessments and facts.

‘In short, Mr Miliband is wrong. How is he not aware that the OECD, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, the Financial Action Task Force, the G20, and the International Monetary Fund all disagree with his broad general statements?,’ he said.

‘Cayman therefore finds itself in the position of repeating factual information that already is in the public domain, and as such is available to Mr Miliband and his advisers’.

The Minister noted that:

a. Cayman fully supports the global agenda of fighting tax evasion, as evidenced by its longstanding engagement in the international discussion on tax and transparency; and by its support of the UK as it significantly contributes to this discussion.

b. Cayman’s support of the global agenda is demonstrated by the fact that our current method of collecting, maintaining and updating BO information through corporate service providers, and providing the information to law enforcement, tax and regulatory authorities, is firmly in line with the FATF Recommendations, as well G20’s High-Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency, issued in November 2014.

‘In other words, Cayman’s regime – which has been in place for more than a decade – continues to align with principles that the G20 countries themselves uphold as the standard,’ Minister Panton said.

c. In light of the evolving, current international discussions, Cayman has identified specific steps – including enhancing accuracy, access, availability and monitoring and enforcement of ownership information – that will further strengthen our beneficial ownership framework.

d. Cayman has an extensive network of more than 70 exchange of information (EOI) relationships that are in line with the global standard. These relationships include partners covered by the OECD Multilateral Convention and 35 bilateral TIEAS. Cayman also has a further 15 TIEAS in negotiation.

e. In November, Cayman took a significant step against global tax evasion in joining more than 50 countries and jurisdictions in signing the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA), developed by the OECD in cooperation with G20 countries.

Cayman therefore is one of the more than 50 early adopters to begin AEOI exchanges in 2017.

The signing of the MCAA follows Cayman’s April 2013 commitment to join what was known then as the G5 pilot on multilateral automatic exchange of tax information; and the commencement in 2005 of our participation in the EU Savings Directive. Cayman also was an early signatory not only to US FATCA, but to UK FATCA, both of which are AEOI initiatives.

‘Mr Miliband should specifically note that unlike the UK, the Cayman Islands has known for more than a decade who owns Cayman companies, and we share that information with authorities carrying out investigations. Furthermore, we also share information with the UK in respect of UK taxpayers who may have interests in the Cayman Islands. The only thing that remains a secret today is why Mr Miliband is not aware of all of this,’ Minister Panton said.

He added that the public response to Mr Miliband’s statement, as well as comments from some Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, speak quite sufficiently in relation to the merits of Mr Miliband’s comments.

‘I invite him to speak with Cayman’s Government, in order to enhance his understanding of our regime,’ the Minister said.

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