When Eric Bush returns to the Cayman Islands this July, he will arrive with a unique perspective on his home country’s global reputation, and also a Rolodex bursting with contact information for key decision-makers and influencers – two assets that will serve him well as the first Chief Officer for the new Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs.
For more than two years in London, Mr. Bush has been delving into the diplomatic arena, interacting with government officials and industry representatives, with one of his key charges being to provide a crucial counter-narrative to the oft-times deliberately demonizing stories about Cayman and its economic system that generally prevail in the United Kingdom’s capital.
Much of Mr. Bush’s work may have taken place in conference rooms, corner offices and oak-paneled boardrooms, but do not let the white-collar or blue-blooded environs deceive you – Mr. Bush’s job description is as near to trench warfare as you will find among allies during peacetime.
For decades, “The Cayman Islands” have been used as shorthand for a variety of crimes, from tax evasion, to money laundering to terrorist financing.
This corrupted image of our islands has been promulgated by big-government crusaders and regulators, in harmony with endless journalists, novelists and screenwriters, who personally or politically oppose individual privacy, property ownership, competitive taxation and the free flow of commerce.
Indeed, much of Cayman’s current “unpopularity” in the U.K. (not to mention in Brussels) derives from our historical reluctance to defend ourselves against slander, much less to define our own position in the wider world. For decades, successive governments – and the private sector – deserve a D- for their ineptitude in defending these shores against such reputational calumny.
Perhaps there was a time when Cayman and other offshore financial centers could afford to ignore disparaging utterances from overseas. Even if that were true at some point, it certainly no longer is, as evidenced increasingly by the waves of assaults on Cayman’s reputation, policies and laws by powerful entities such as the OECD, European Union and even the British Parliament. Separately and together, these decisions being made thousands of miles away threaten Cayman’s economy and residents’ way of life.
No one understands this better than Mr. Bush, who had a front-row seat for the machinations and backroom maneuvering that led to Parliament’s vote to force British Overseas Territories to adopt public beneficial ownership registries.
In his years heading the London Office, Mr. Bush traveled frequently throughout Britain and to Europe to promote, defend and argue on behalf of Cayman. He deserves hazardous-duty pay.
His new role will involve similar work elevating Cayman’s standing in the world, albeit with a greater variety of players and on larger stages. Mr. Bush’s new ministry is charged with promoting Cayman and improving its reputation with key constituencies. Item No. 1 on the agenda is the creation of a new Cayman Office for Asia in Hong Kong. And from there, to strategic locations around the globe.
We welcome Mr. Bush home and simultaneously wish him farewell on his future journeys. Wherever in the world he is, as long as he is representing Cayman, he has our support and that of his country.