Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers will mount a new campaign next year to clear Cayman’s name and she is heading to the heart of where some of the global public’s negative perceptions are fuelled.
“It is time we take this fight to Hollywood,” Rivers said Friday during the budget debate in the Legislative Assembly.
She said funds have been allocated in the 2020/2021 fiscal package to continue her ministry’s efforts to educate and dispel the misconceptions about Cayman’s financial services industry.
While she said that Cayman efforts to change the perception of the industry are bearing fruit on the political stage, the global public still has a negative view of Cayman.
This view, she said, is being propagated through adverse throwaway references to Cayman in film.
“A targeted campaign for engagement with leading entertainment company executives is planned for the upcoming year. Our objectives for this effort are to correct the record, to educate content providers and to set the record straight about Cayman’s commitment to meeting international standards and its ongoing commitment to combat financial crime and tax evasion,” she told fellow lawmakers.
Rivers said the end result of the planned campaign is to positively influence how the Cayman Islands is referenced in film and television, “or at the very least, help to minimise what is often seen as the erroneous and misleading and misinformed throwaway references to the Cayman Islands which, unfortunately, [are] still making [their] way into popular films and television,” she said.
Cayman still lives under the shadow of the 1993 Hollywood movie ‘The Firm’, starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman, which painted the islands as a jurisdiction for money laundering and hiding money. Though the film is more than 25 years old, references to the Cayman Islands as a hub for avoiding taxes persist.
Just recently, NBC’s popular show ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ referred to Cayman when trying to track illegal money in one of its episodes.
Rivers stressed that her ministry’s direct engagement with UK officials from various international security and political organisations has had positive results. She is hoping for the same outcome through Cayman’s engagement with those within the American film-making industry.
“Our goal is to help to educate those who are writing the scripts, [who] create the stories, to at least give them a reason to pause before they choose to refer to Cayman Islands in this light,” she said.
Rivers said it would be naïve to think that there is no risk that the jurisdiction is being used in nefarious ways.
“All financial centres, both offshore and onshore, such as New York, London, Paris, etc., there [are] always ways for criminal-minded people to carry out whatever criminal activities they are so inclined to do. But Cayman has a strong history of transparency, a strong history of complying and adapting to, as necessary, international standards,” she said.
The minister, speaking on other efforts that her ministry has been engaged in, said eyes are on the Asian/Pacific markets.
Cayman’s competitors, she said, are activity engaging in efforts to reduce this jurisdiction’s financial services industry’s market share in Asia and the Pacific.
“We need to up our presence and up the ante with respect to our engagement efforts in that region,” she said.
Rivers will continue her budget debate contribution Monday.
Financial Services and Home Affairs budget allocation
$19 million 2020
$17.7 million 2021