Ugland House volleys

Website puts rumours to bed

Maples and Calder has had enough.

The law firm and its home, Ugland House, have been the focus of rancorous debate among politicians in both the United States and the United Kingdom as they wag their fingers at the Cayman Islands and accuse this county of allowing investors to evade taxes.

‘I have said many times before that I hate to disappoint people, but Ugland House’s use is really pretty mundane since it is nothing more than a registered office address for Cayman Islands entities. That said, over the past few years several journalists and politicians, including those at the highest possible level, have seen fit to criticise us without being in full command of the facts,’ said Maples and Calder joint Managing Partner Charles Jennings.

The Cayman Islands was brought up several times during the last United States presidential campaign in a negative light by Republican US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who had called Ugland House – the reputed home of more than 18,000 companies registered with the law firm Maples and Calder – ‘either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.’

To help put an end to the tongue wagging, a new websites was launched over the weekend called Ugland House Explained.

It is hoped the site, www.uglandhouse.ky, will answer what Mr. Jennings describes as persistent myths about the nature of the business being conducted from his firm’s headquarters at Ugland House in George Town.

Mr. Jennings said the site’s launch addresses what he calls months of ill-informed comment from journalists, politicians and other self-appointed experts on the offshore financial world.

“Despite the US Government Accountability Office giving us a clean bill of health after their visit last year, Maples and Calder and our representatives, both in the United States and elsewhere, have still received numerous requests for more information about Ugland House and the Cayman Islands and the work undertaken here,’ said Mr. Jennings.

The site features a wide variety of topics by various experts, including myths and facts about the nature of the companies and other business vehicles registered at Ugland House.

In addition, the site contains an explanation of Ugland House’s role; a section on Cayman and the worldwide recovery of global financial markets, which showcases how Cayman Islands entities are playing an important part in freeing the movement of capital and investment despite the credit crunch; the text of the US report of July 2008 and various published opinion pieces and interviews by partners of Maples and Calder.

‘The purpose of the website is to provide easy access to those facts, allowing not just journalists and politicians but anyone else who is interested in what offshore finance really means to come to learn what offshore financial work is all about without the prejudice and ignorance that the subject seems to attract,’ he said.

Mr Jennings said he hopes the website will be a resource for those seeking to understand or explain the nature of the offshore financial industry. It will be regularly updated with articles, quotations from politicians, economists and others worldwide, data and similar information.

He said he hopes that the website will not just seek to counter ill-informed comment about Ugland House, and by inference Maples and Calder’s business, but also highlight the positive benefits that offshore financial business can bring to the worldwide economy, and particularly to its recovery from the present financial crisis.

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