Bush advocates antitrust laws

During the debate of his defeated Private Member’s Motion in the Legislative Assembly recently, Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush called for the enactment of antitrust legislation in the Cayman Islands.

Known as competition law in most countries, antitrust legislation tries to prevent business practices that hinder trade or commerce to the detriment of consumers.

Mr. Bush made the suggestion while calling for its inclusion in anticorruption legislation. He noted that the government’s proposed anticorruption legislation did not include any mention of antitrust or insider trading provisions.

‘This is all counted as illegal in many other jurisdictions,’ he said in the Legislative Assembly last month.

‘I believe that in looking at anticorruption legislation we must also pay attention to enacting antitrust laws which will prohibit anticompetitive behaviour and unfair business practices.’

Mr. Bush argued anticorruption legislation should not just be aimed at the public sector.

‘I would like to see an Anticorruption Bill that… recognises that corruption is the misuse of entrusted power for private gain, whether that gain is financial or for political office or political advantage,’ he said.

In the United States, the Sherman Antitrust Act serves to limit cartels and monopolies. It is intended to prevent, among other things, arrangements that would tend to increase the cost of goods to consumers.

For example, under the law, collusion among competing companies to fix market prices is illegal.

The Information and Communication Technology Authority Law contains provisions that make anti-competitive business practices illegal, but it applies only to ICTA licensees.

Speaking about the issue this week, Mr. Bush said one example where it appears competitors agree to fixed rates occurs here in Cayman in the banking industry.

However, Mr. Bush said he believed unfair business practices occur, to the detriment of the consumer, in other industries as well.

‘There are several areas affected,’ he said. ‘The legislation must apply to all areas.’

Mr. Bush also thought the anticorruption bill should contain provisions about insider trading.

‘We must also deal with the issue of insider trading, the kind of transaction that takes place in breach of a judiciary duty or a relationship of trust and confidence based on the receipt of certain information that is very often a tip off.’

Speaking apparently hypothetically during the Legislative Assembly debate last month, Mr. Bush gave the example of an architect using bid information gained through an association with government to make lower bids on jobs himself. Mr. Bush also spoke of a banker who uses the information about a foreclosed loan to buy the property himself.

‘Is that not insider trading of the worst kind?’ he asked.

Although the debate on Mr. Bush’s motion went on for several days, his call for antitrust legislation or insider trading laws was not touched on by any of the other contributors to the debate.