Cayman’s top officials are not passively awaiting European leaders’ upcoming vote on a proposed financial services “blacklist.” To the contrary, they appear to be fighting to the finish, armed with indisputable truths about Cayman’s economy and how it benefits global commerce.
Premier Alden McLaughlin, Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers and her ministry’s chief officer Dax Basdeo, joined by several other government officials, are in London, prepared to discuss tax and beneficial ownership transparency agreements at this week’s Joint Ministerial Council meeting of the U.K. and British Overseas Territories leaders. They will also, presumably, meet with European Union officials about including these islands on their pending “blacklist.”
No one can foretell how (or whether) their arsenal of facts will affect EU finance ministers’ Dec. 5 vote, but whatever the result, we need to recognize and, frankly, applaud Premier Alden’s McLaughlin, Minister Rivers, and the entire delegation for making this in-person, 11th-hour push to make (once again) Cayman’s case. Certainly it is obvious to anyone with a pulse that our officials will be facing a skeptical, if not openly hostile, audience.
For decades, Cayman has adjusted to, and abided by, a series of increasingly intrusive regulations and rules promulgated by a European confederation of ideologically driven politicians and bureaucrats.
Over the years, a succession of Cayman leaders has attempted to accommodate (if not appease) world leaders and educate them about the role offshore financial centers play in a global marketplace. If their arguments have fallen on deaf ears, it is the fault not of the “sender” but of the “receiver.” Educating those who have no wish to be educated, or even to entertain conflicting or challenging thoughts, is a futile exercise.
If the pending blacklist truly were about creating “global fairness” (a phrase as unintelligible as it is subjective), we would expect major economies such as China and the United States to be included on the proposed EU blacklist. But, of course, they are not. The EU finance ministers know they don’t have the “clout” or the fortitude to go up against the “big boys” in Washington or Beijing.
Premier McLaughlin recently articulated what we consider to be the right posture for Cayman: It is better to be added to yet another blacklist, even if it does ultimately come with sanctions, if the contortions required to receive the EU’s blessings would twist our economy into such knots as to make it unrecognizable — and economically unviable. (The subtext, of course, is never negotiate with someone who is hell-bent on putting you out of business.)
And if Cayman is included on the EU blacklist, so be it. As nearly everyone knows (with the possible exception of EU finance ministers), Cayman is likely to be around long after the European Union has receded into a footnote in history, eulogized for what it is: A failed social (and socialistic) experiment.