OECD Tax Policy Representatives Visit Cayman

(L-R) Minister of Financial Services the Hon. Tara Rivers; and the Premier, the Hon. Alden McLaughlin, with Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration and Melissa Dejong, the centre’s Head of Unit for the Harmful Tax Practices / Tax and Crime, on Thursday, 3 January 2019.

High-ranking representatives from the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration visited the Cayman Islands on 3 and 4 January. The centre’s Director, Pascal Saint-Amans; and its Head of Unit for Harmful Tax Practices, Melissa Dejong, met with Cabinet and caucus members; local financial services and commerce regulators; and private-sector financial services and commerce representatives.

Mr Saint-Amans played a key role in advancing the OECD tax transparency agenda with the G20, and he continues to advise and work with the G20 on global tax developments. Besides her key role of managing the work of the OECD’s Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP), Ms Dejong leads the OECD’s tax and crime team.

Noting that he and Ms Dejong routinely visit jurisdictions in fulfilment of their secretariat role, Mr Saint-Amans said the OECD is extremely appreciative of Cayman’s commitment to global standards. He specifically mentioned Cayman’s membership in the OECD’s BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Inclusive Framework; and its membership and leadership in its Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which is the world’s largest tax body.

“All of Cayman’s efforts are building a positive reputation. In fact, your reputation with governments and the international business community is positive, because you’ve done the job in the area of transparency,” he said, underscoring that he has heard “no complaints” from governments regarding Cayman’s exchanges of information for tax purposes.

That said, “It is difficult to explain changes imposed from outside a jurisdiction,” Mr Saint-Amans said. “There is a gap between being recognised by partners, and public reputation. “(But) one should first think about what a tax haven is, before putting that label on the Cayman Islands,” he said, adding later: “Tax neutrality should not be a code name for tax evasion.”

Cayman Islands Premier, the Hon, Alden McLaughlin, said the visit from Mr Saint-Amans and Ms Dejong was helpful in giving an impartial view of Cayman’s regime and its progress. “Their comments to the various audiences confirm that Cayman’s standards, when considered alongside those of our peers and larger economies, are currently keeping pace with developments,” he said.

“Of course, as standards evolve, all jurisdictions will have scope to further enhance their regimes. Government recognises this, and is committed to developing our framework in a way that meets these standards, while also best supporting our local economy.”

Minister of Financial Services, the Hon. Tara Rivers, agreed with the Premier, saying that is why Government held extensive consultation in relation to legislation passed last December, in response to Cayman’s commitments to the EU on its non-cooperative tax jurisdiction initiative. “The time spent analysing various scenarios, and speaking with local and international stakeholders, was to position our financial services industry for continued stability and growth, for the ultimate benefit of the people of the Cayman Islands,” she said.

“The Cayman Islands is, and always has been, a very resilient jurisdiction. Historically our financial services industry grew from strength to strength, even after adopting significant changes as a result of evolving global standards over the many decades; and based on our history, we anticipate that this ability to adapt and prosper will continue into the future.” Ms Dejong, who in her FHTP capacity liaises closely with the EU on its initiative, confirmed that Cayman’s December legislation is similar to that passed in other jurisdictions, including the UK’s Crown Dependencies and other Overseas Territories.

It is expected that by mid-February, the EU will announce its assessment of the jurisdiction against its standards. Later this year, the FHTP will conduct an assessment of jurisdictions, including Cayman, against the FHTP standards. In addition to discussions about Cayman’s engagement in global tax matters, Mr Saint-Amans, Ms Dejong and participants in the various meetings talked about the entrenchment of tax issues on political agendas, and tax challenges of the digitalisation of the global economy.

Mr Saint-Amans acknowledged that the continued levelling of the global playing field in financial services is a development that Cayman and other jurisdictions have long supported, from the standpoint of equity in global standards. Both he and Ms Dejong therefore encouraged Cayman to remain engaged with global developments, to best position Cayman’s domestic policy and legislative development in the future.

Biographies

Pascal Saint-Amans, Director, OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration

Pascal Saint-Amans took on his duties as Director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration at the OECD on 1 February 2012. Mr. Saint-Amans, a French national, joined the OECD in September 2007 as Head of the International Co-operation and Tax Competition Division in the CTPA.  He played a key role in the advancement of the OECD tax transparency agenda in the context of the G20.  In October 2009 he was appointed Head of the Global Forum Division, created to service the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, a programme with the participation of over 100 countries.

Mr Saint-Amans graduated from the National School of Administration (ENA) in 1996, and was an official in the French Ministry for Finance for nearly a decade.  He held various positions within the Treasury, including heading the supervision of  the EU work on direct taxes and overseeing  legislation and policy on wealth tax and mergers and spin offs.  He was also the head of tax treaty negotiations and mutual agreement procedures.  In this capacity, he participated in the OECD Working Party No. 1 of the Committee on Fiscal Affairs as the delegate for France before being elected Chair of WP1 in 2005.  He was also a member of the UN Group of Experts on International Co-operation in Tax Matters, becoming a “rapporteur” in 2006.  Before leaving government service, he was Deputy Director in charge of litigation at the Direction Générale des Impôts.

Mr Saint-Amans also served as Financial Director of the Energy Regulation Committee between 1999 and 2002 and was responsible for the introduction of new electricity tariffs. Having earned a degree in history, Mr Saint-Amans also received a degree from the Institut d’études politiques of Paris.

Melissa Dejong, Head of Unit – Harmful Tax Practices / Tax and Crime, OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration

Melissa Dejong has worked at the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration at the OECD since 2013. She leads two teams, on harmful tax practices and on tax & crime. In respect of harmful tax practices, she manages the work of the Forum on Harmful Tax Practices which has responsibility for the BEPS Action 5 minimum standard and which applies to more than 100 jurisdictions in the Inclusive Framework on BEPS. In respect of tax & crime, she manages the work of the Task Force on Tax Crimes and Other Crimes, in the context of the Committee on Fiscal Affairs.

Ms Dejong’s first two years at the OECD were in the Secretariat for the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, where she led a series of training events on the standard for automatic exchange of financial account information, reviewed member jurisdiction’s compliance with the international standard on exchange of information on request, and provided technical assistance to developing countries.

An Australian lawyer, she started her career as an Associate to the Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia. She then worked in tax in private practice at a top tier law firm in Sydney, followed by time as a tax advisor in Singapore at Deloitte & Touche.

Ms Dejong earned degrees in law and in international relations from the Australian National University and a Masters in Tax Law from New York University.

 

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