GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) – André Ebanks, the Cayman Islands London representative, and Cayman finance chief executive (CEO) Jude Scott attended the UK Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week to promote the idea of tax neutrality among a rather hostile group, while their ministry and private sector colleagues were rubbing shoulders with royalty and wealth in Monaco. This is the first time the Cayman Islands government has organised an event at the Labour conference, it provided an opportunity to speak with those still skeptical about the offshore sector here.
A fringe event to discuss methods of taxation, including Cayman’s tax-neutral regime, was hosted by the Cayman delegation and moderated by Prospect Magazine. The event involved a chaired discussion between Catherine West, MP for Hornsey;Wood Green in Greater London, and Scott.
Officials stated in a release that Scott outlined the facts about tax neutrality for the audience of Labour supporters and clarified Cayman’s process for verifying and sharing ownership information versus self-reporting public registers.
“I was very pleased that the Cayman Islands government office in the UK presented the opportunity to engage with such a well-respected MP in this forum; a lot of good even-handed dialogue and discussion took place,” Scott said. “We were able to reinforce the great track record and the benefits of our tax neutral regime globally to a traditionally doubtful audience. The conversation today was balanced and informed, and I was pleased to be able to neutralise some of the historic scepticism.”
Scott said that he wanted to send the message that Cayman’s representatives are available and willing to continue to engage and be a part of this conversation.
Meanwhile, at the conference [itself], Ebanks met with Gibraltar and Falkland Islands representatives and discussed mental health issues with Mental Health First Aid England. He also met with Jonathan Reynolds MP, shadow economic secretary to the Treasury.
“My first month in the post is off to a spirited start,” said Ebanks, who was posted to London this summer. He replaced Eric Bush, who is now the chief officer in the new ministry of trade that has been created to deal with international commerce. It falls under the premier’s portfolio and includes the London office.
“Attendance at the Labour Party Conference has been invaluable this year combined with our first ever fringe event in conjunction with Cayman finance, we are ensuring that we have a much greater presence and are at the forefront of political discussions concerning our financial services,” Ebanks said. “We are delighted to have had the support from Cayman finance and that Catherine West MP was willing to engage and discuss these important topics in a constructive and open manner. We very much look forward to further types of engagement like this to continue the conversation,” he added.
Given the current political turmoil in the UK and the Conservative government’s precarious position, as well as the continued uncertainty over Brexit, a general election is almost certainly on the cards for the UK before the end of this year. While the polls indicate that Labour is training the Tory Party, the shifting sands of British politics open the possibility of Labour leading a coalition government.
While the Cayman government and the financial services sector have had traction with their message about Cayman among Conservative members, they need to win new friends in the Labour Party.
Without some influence among MPs in a party that has always been more hostile to the concept of offshore finance than their Tory colleagues, the sector could be in for an even more challenging time next year than it already is in meeting Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, dodging blacklists and planning for open beneficial ownership registers.