Bush, Panton debate financial services accords

Cayman Islands Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush has exchanged barbs with Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton, telling the Legislative Assembly that tax-exchange information agreements with US and UK authorities threaten Cayman’s financial services industry. 

Speaking as part of the budget debate on Wednesday morning, Mr. Bush warned of “skulduggery” in People’s Progressive Movement party interim accounts, but cautioned the legislature on the larger issue of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and its British equivalent. 

“With these new multilateral agreements the government has just reached, we have signed away the backbone and the lifeblood of the financial services industry,” Mr. Bush said, alluding to late-stage negotiations with the US Internal Revenue Service, the April G-5 Pilot Agreement and the June OECD Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters, all committing the Cayman Islands to automatic exchange of tax information, ultimately enabling global tax collection. 

Previously, he said, the local regulatory regime had preserved “the economic wealth and reputation of the Cayman Islands. It protected the Cayman Islands”. 

Recent multilateral understandings, however, threatened that, he said, particularly in light of Washington’s PRISM scandal in which the US National Security Agency had been compromised. 

“PRISM information is sent to third countries to be leaked and hacked,” Mr. Bush said. “The Cayman Islands has agreements with 30 countries and should not agree to the wholesale release of information until the G-20 agrees to the release of all data to each other. Otherwise, it will irrevocably damage the Cayman Islands.  

“We are being used as an experiment, and we should not enter this type of agreement, and certainly not lead the way,” he said, referring to Cayman as the first UK overseas territory to accede to British tax information sharing demands. 

“Where is the level playing field? It is short-sighted and destructive,” he said. 

Mr. Bush worried US and UK exchange agreements violated human rights and the privacy of citizens, who “had brought businesses and families here, and made us the country we are today. 

“We have been compliant in everything they [US and UK authorities] have asked us to do. They say they are going to revise the plan, but the [UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office] always wants more. 

“You are going to see serious devastation here if we sign this. This could kill Cayman’s financial services industry. Businesses will go elsewhere,” Mr. Bush said. 

In a lengthy rebuttal, however, Mr. Panton, speaking only 24 hours prior to his appearance at a local industry-wide FATCA seminar, rejected most of Mr. Bush’s fears, saying Cayman had been part of information exchange agreements for years, and the latest accords “had the support of the financial services industry”. 

“Our interest was to promote the creation of a single standard in which all jurisdictions participate,” he said, encouraging “a level playing field, and avoiding costs and multiple competing standards.” 

Efforts to align FATCA, G-5 commitments and OECD agreements were ongoing, and in “extensive consultation” with industry representative Cayman Finance. 

“We have expressed reservations,” Mr. Panton said, with most of the information-exchange proposals, observing that negotiations continued.  

However, naming Bermuda, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, the minister said all British overseas territories and crown dependencies “have made commitments” to both the G-5 agenda and the Europe-wide Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters. 

“Our policy is to engage with the private sector on these issues because it is imperative that we understand,” he said, telling Mr. Bush’s that his fears “do not reflect the view of the vast majority of those involved”.

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Mr. Bush

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Mr. Panton
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9 COMMENTS

  1. What ever one may say about McKeva Bush, I am positive he knows what he is saying. If Wayne Panton would like to get some good advice, I suggest he listens to what Bush says. Bush is an old Veteran to what is taking place with the April G5 Pilot and the June OECD Convention, on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax matters. We are doomed, and many of us realize this now, but is too ashamed and coward to say so, however; truly speaking, there is nothing we can do. Everything must fulfill. Stay watchful aware and prepared.

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  2. Remarks on financial matters from someone who admitted he did not understand what was going on at Board meetings of the Bank of which he was a director, should be taken with a shovelful of salt.

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  3. Difficult to say who is right or wrong in this regard at the moment.

    However, what I do know is that there is a difference between being educated and being institutionalized. My greatest fear as it concerns our new government is that, although well educated, they are too institutionalized for their / our own good.

    We need to understand that everything is not as it seems in this world and to realize that often there are blinders woven into the bait of higher education and acceptance at the elite table.

    Never forget that every initiative has an agenda or ultimate goal – and in these times of global turmoil and shifting of diplomatic power – the promoters of change in the world today are doing so for their own benefit – not ours.

    One confidence that I had / have in former Premier MvKeeva Bush was, although not formally educated by modern standards, he ALWAYS had his 3rd eye open and saw ’em coming from way down the road. He was NOT an institutionalized individual in the least – he has a talent for seeing things as they really are.

    As for this current crop of politicians – I am not so sure.

    My advice to them is; be wary of trying to come across as extra shiny and new, because you run the risk of playing right into the hands of those that wish to destroy us.

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  4. However, naming Bermuda, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, the minister said all British overseas territories and crown dependencies have made commitments to both the G-5 agenda and the Europe-wide Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters.

    Its not like these jurisdictions have any choice in the matter…

    If they want to remain British.

    As I’ve indicated in my former comments…prepare now for direct orders to set up tax-collection regimes on behalf of this G-5.

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  5. I agree with Mac…our financial system is the economy of this great country it is not tourism. If we all agree to this evil scheme by the IRS aka central banking system we are bound to go back to exporting turtle meat..oh yeah that’s right we ran out of that. Thank you PPM

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  6. We must be ever vigilant with those that smile with us at the table, for underneath they hold muskets pointed at us.

    Yes, as overseas territories, we must demonstrate our willingness to comply for the good of other nations, BUT, it must not be at the detriment of ourselves. The Cayman financial institution have more than demonstrated its desire and willingness to cooperate with the OECD and FATCA from years back before there was mention of the global financial crisis. Let not yourselves be misled by smoke screens of the elites that present themselves as ambassadors of democracy and freedoms for all.

    Be ever vigilant PPM with those that smile with you at the tables you sit at!

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  7. PPM supporters I hope you all see what is happening already and it is only some 6 weeks after the elections and you know what there is more of this to come. We will all have to take our punches together no matter what, but it will affect or bother you Wayne!!

    Wayne Panton don’t like McKeeva Bush (he never did) but he knows what he’s talking about!! Wayne Panton will never be the politician that McKeeva Bush is.

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  8. Mac is wrong, the Cayman Islands have 31 tax information exchange agreements, TIEAs, with various countries. Not 30. He is responsible for at least 5 of these. The last one was signed in March with Brazil by the UDP lite. Mac himself signed one with Italy on 3 Dec 2012. There’s a nice picture of him on caycompass.com shaking hands with the Italian ambassador to the UK at the ceremony. Since 2010 Mac’s government signed TEIAs with Argentina, China, India, and Mexico

    I agree with Mac’s assertion that it is not good for CI business to knuckle under to the imposition of other jurisdictions’ failed high tax regimes and inscrutable tax codes by signing TEIAs. I don’t agree with Mac knuckling under and signing 5 TEIAs while he was Premier.

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