Overcoming perceptions

For years, the Cayman Islands has fought the common perception, popularised by Hollywood and works of fiction, that our shores were rife with money launderers, con artists and other shady foreign investors.

Perhaps, at one time, that assessment was even valid to a certain degree.

Indeed, the mystique created by that perception, might have helped put Cayman’s tourism product on the map.

But, as Financial Reporting Authority director David Thursfield indicated recently, times have changed.

Gone are the days when criminals could show up on our shores with a bag of money and actually do something with it.

Starting with the signing of the Mutual Legal Assistance and progressing through the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Law, the Cayman Islands have become a very unfavourable environment for money launderers.

With pressures from the OECD, the United States and the European Union, Cayman has to transform in to one of the cleanest investment environments in the world.

Even our real estate industry is heavily regulated with due diligence requirements, something to which even realtors in the US and the UK are not bound.

This has all cost the Cayman Island investment industry millions of dollars in time, effort, and in the systems required to become compliant.

Many say it’s not fair that Cayman should be held to different standards than those who insist we have those standards in the first place.

Certainly, not having a level playing field puts Cayman at a competitive disadvantage because we must deal with costs our competitors do not have.

Through all of this, however, Cayman is starting to establish itself as a sterling example of the way an investment community should be run in the modern world.

A recent report issued by the International Monetary Fund praised the extensive efforts of the Cayman Islands to thwart money laundering.

Despite the occasional hiccup, which is probably much more occasional than in most other jurisdictions, the Cayman Islands are obviously doing something right.

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