Cayman Finance said it supported the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) in its announcement today of the signing of an agreement by the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands on the enhancements to its existing beneficial ownership system.
The announcement was made at a media conference today in Grand Cayman by the Cayman Islands Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin and Chief Officer, Dr Dax Basdeo.
Mr Jude Scott, Cayman Finance CEO said Cayman Finance appreciated working in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Government to bring a high level of expertise to negotiations with the UK.
"We are pleased the UK Government has recognised that our licensed corporate services provider verified beneficial ownership system is a world class system that provides for due diligence know-your-customer checks that are critical to proper law enforcement authorities conducting legitimate investigations and is superior to other proposed systems," he said. "Whilst there are already agreements in place that allow UK law enforcement agencies to request and obtain beneficial ownership information for the Cayman Islands, we have agreed to an enhancement to that system which will help the UK law enforcement agencies access that information with the utmost urgency, but in a way that is also appropriate for our jurisdiction. This is not a public central register."
"Beneficial ownership information details will remain with the corporate service providers managing them and information will be accessed via a central technical platform. The enhancements are in line with global standards and the United Kingdom's own position," Mr Scott said. "The terms of this agreement are essentially business as usual for Cayman, the agreement offers a path forward that builds on the work Cayman has been doing for decades, while continuing to support the important economic role we play in the global economy."
"The agreed enhancements to this system will ensure proper authorities conducting legitimate investigations can quickly identify all companies that a particular beneficial owner has a stake in without needing multiple requests and that those owners not be alerted to the existence of an investigation.
Mr Scott said the agreement was a significant step in recognising that Cayman was not a secrecy jurisdiction but a premier global financial hub that efficiently connected law abiding users and providers of capital and financing around the world, benefitting both developed and developing countries by enabling their competitiveness in global trade and facilitating international investment into their domestic economies that helped them grow and create jobs.
Mr Scott said that for over forty years the Cayman Islands had played a leading role in the fight against illegal activities and tax evasion.
"Industry and government have worked side-by-side to implement a legal infrastructure that promotes effective transparency and cross border cooperation with law enforcement that meets, and in some cases exceeds, international regulatory standards and comparable regimes in G20 countries," he said.
"This is a milestone but not the end of the road for either this agreement or our efforts to support the combatting of global financial crime. We will continue to partner with the CIG and engage with the UK as the process moves toward implementation.
"With decades of experience in successfully operating a world class global financial hub, the Cayman Islands is positioned as a leader in its ability to contribute positively to the design and development of effective cross border cooperation laws and regulations, and as such, it remains ready and willing to assist other international financial centres, overseas governments and international authorities," Mr Scott said.
The UK prime minister David Cameron announced today that all crown dependencies and British overseas territories had formally agreed to disclose information relating to the beneficial ownership of companies with two exceptions: Guernsey and Anguilla, although they were expected to soon. Mr Cameron also acknowledged the many steps already taken by the British overseas territories to implement international automatic exchange of tax information protocols, such as the OECD Common Reporting Standard, and to adopt high standards with regard to transparency.
Mr Jude Scott, Cayman Finance CEO
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Cayman Finance's mission is to protect, promote, develop and grow the Cayman Islands financial services industry through cooperation and engagement with domestic and international political leaders, regulators, organisations and media; to promote the integrity and transparency of the Industry by legislative and regulatory enactment and to encourage the sustainable growth of the Industry through excellence, innovation and balance.
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