These were two of four elements of a “four-point plan” to ensure the future well being of the Cayman Islands that Travers delivered to delegates at the recently-concluded GAIM (global alternative investment management) conference in Grand Cayman. The conference took place at the island’s five-star Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Seven Mile Beach.
In his remarks, which were released later to the media, Travers said Cayman must “resist the suggestion from the G20 jurisdictions that [it] introduce direct taxation,” adding, in a reference to the G20 countries: “it can hardly be said that their economies are a ringing endorsement of the concept.”
Other points outlined by Travers:
• Cayman’s immigration policy should be changed in order to provide “long term security of tenure for financial professionals” as well as more employment for local islanders
• The “nonsensical suggestions of the truth deniers concerning tax evasion and tax haven status or indeed money laundering” must continue to be refuted by Caymanians, who, Travers said, must reiterate that “what we do in Cayman is lawful and proper”
• Cayman must maintain “appropriate regulation” which recognises that Cayman vehicles trading in onshore jurisdictions “are subject to the laws and regulation of those jurisdictions”
Travers’ outlined his four-point plan at the end of a speech in which he questioned the motives of certain American and British politicians in their attacks on the Cayman Islands and other offshore jurisdictions.
Outspoken offshore commentator
Travers, 60, is well known in international circles for his outspoken two-year tenure as chairman of Cayman Finance, which ended in February when he unexpectedly stepped down, saying little more than that that he felt his work at the organisation was done.
He was particularly vocal on the subject of a supposed exodus of investment funds from the Caymans to Dublin (which he maintained was a fiction).
A former managing partner at Maples & Calder, the Cayman Islands-based international law firm, Travers received an OBE in 1998 for his services to the government and the financial sector.
Travers was raised and educated in the UK, but has spent most of his professional life in the Caymans.
As reported here last month, a former Cayman Islands’ attorney general, Richard Coles, was named to succeed Travers at Cayman Finance. as its new chairman.
‘The Kool-Aid Party’
In his speech, Travers railed at a category of well-intentioned individuals who, he said, was “wedded to the notion that one high global rate of taxation is a solution to world poverty”, and which he collectively dubbed “the Kool-Aid Party” for its philosophical opposition to the US Tea Party movement. Kool-Aid also has connotations in some circles of a willingness to blindly follow a cause.
“These people all share the common belief in large government, a large public sector, high levels of social welfare spending and therefore very high taxation,” Travers said.
He also lashed out at what he called a “more troubling” source of public relations negativity, those various “onshore Treasury, supranational and domestic regulatory bodies which in turn are driven by populist politicians” who, he noted, are keen to promote the idea that “the solution to mismanaged domestic fiscal and monetary policy lies in some mystical offshore pot of gold”.
“These blame-deflecting politicians and regulators are anxious to obfuscate the failures of their domestic regulatory systems in the G20 jurisdictions by suggesting that in some way it is the tax or regulatory system of the offshore financial centre that is at fault.," Travers said.
"This is the reason why we see hedge funds, rather than Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae, now described as the root cause of the recent financial crisis in the same way that the Enron collapse was supposed to have its cause in the Cayman islands and not Delaware.
“And the missing Bonlat monies were supposed to have disappeared in the Cayman Islands rather than in Parmalat’s head office in Italy.”