Tax haven finance chief slams ‘impotent’ OECD

cayman islands

The world’s tax watchdog has been branded ‘impotent’ by the chairman of the
Cayman Islands Financial Services Association.

Speaking exclusively to Accountancy Age, Anthony Travers
said criticism from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on
the role of the Cayman Islands as a centre for tax evasion is ‘one of horrible

He claims the OECD has ignored some 27 multilateral taxÈ treaties signed by
the offshore centre as ‘they only count treaties in a form they approve’.

‘We’re baffled by the OECD… what they’re doing is nothing to do with the
fundamentals of tax evasion. They’re such a political animal. We’re baffled
about how they do their maths. The OECD is actually impotent,’ he said.

The caustic comments come as most offshore tax jurisdictions deal with
increasing pressure to comply with information sharing standards written by the
OECD. Recent meetings of G20 international leaders have only intensified the
demands for tax havens to comply.

Travers said the OECD’s guidelines on encouraging offshore centers to sign
international tax standards illustrates the issue is not about tax evasion, but
rather EU countries seeking to control the flow of mobile capital.

‘It’s about tax competition not tax evasion. They [the EU] regard our low tax
rates as threatening. People want to invest through a tax neutral platform.
We’re tax neutral ­ we don’t add an additional layer of tax through our
financial structures,’ he said.

Other offshore jurisdictions maintain their relationship with OECD is

Robert Kirkby, technical director at Jersey Finance, said relations between
two parties has been ‘pretty positive’. While he disputed Travers’ criticism and
recognised OECD representatives need to be consistent in their approach, he
concedes they face significant challenges.

‘Ultimately, we operate in a political world and many of the countries they
deal with are effectively superpowers so there’s a lot of persuasion and

‘I don’t envy them bringing players like China, US and Germany to the table ­
they’ve been trying to do things on a fair basis,’ he said.

He expressed some surprise at the comments from Travers because the
jurisdiction is currently on an OECD grey list and pushing for ‘white list’

Kirkby said: ‘We’re now on the white list so why would we be too critical. I
would’ve expected the Cayman’s to adopt a lower key approach but I think
[Travers] is quite passionate about the OECD and introducing this flow of tax
information, which you can’t disagree with,’ he said.

A spokesman for the Isle of Man said the offshore center has been working
with the OECD for many years and the relationship is ‘positive’.

The OECD was not available for comment as Accountancy Age went to

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