Letter to the Financial Times 4th December 2015.
Sir, If those briefing David Cameron were to pay even cursory attention to the statistical and factual evidence of the past decade, he would be less likely to tilt at the windmill suggested by the Tax Justice Network and the various charities seeking to lobby on the subject of unrestricted beneficial ownership in the Overseas Territories (“Cayman Islands reject Cameron’s tax offensive”, November 30).
It is already the case that the Overseas Territories set the global gold standard for transparency of beneficial ownership, provided the requests are made by a Tax Authority pursuant to the relevant treaty or by a law enforcement authority. No sound reason exists for insisting on a public register of beneficial ownership given the legitimate right to privacy in private commercial matters and the increasing wickedness of criminals, blackmailers, extortionists and terrorists with which high sounding governments seem incapable of dealing.
The suggestion that the proposed Register would represent any form of global standard is derisory, given even the important US jurisdictions, notably Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada, will not be subject to the new OECD Common Reporting Standard, to which the Cayman Islands has already acceded, and maintain no beneficial ownership information whatsoever for tax authorities, law enforcement or indeed, anyone else.
Furthermore, the unrestricted access granted to tax authorities and law enforcement in the Cayman Islands over the past decade, has resulted in statistically insignificant additional revenue raised for the IRS, HMRC or other tax authorities and nor has any evidence been adduced that proper criminal inquiry has been obstructed.
The suggestions of these charities, whose resources would doubtless be better employed in alleviating poverty within the terms of their respective charters, continue to grotesquely overstate the problem and should form no basis whatsoever for British government or indeed any other government policy which should be fact-based.
Chairman, Cayman Islands Stock Exchange
Read the article on the FT.com website here