July 18, 2019

Cayman Islands Ministry, US Officials discuss tax and financial services reform

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A two-person team from the Ministry of Financial Services has just returned from having face-to-face discussions with officials on tax and financial services reform, both of which are of great importance to the Cayman Islands.

“We were well received by influential Congressional staff members and advisors’, said Mr André Ebanks, Senior Legislative Policy Advisor in the Ministry’s Department of Financial Services Policy and Legislation. He and the department’s Policy Officer, Mr Wilbur Welcome, travelled to Washington, DC, on 25 and 26 September.

‘Our message appears to be resonating that Cayman is a tax-neutral, well-regulated financial services centre with world-class professional services firms’, said. ‘This is important for us, because a strong reputation drives business’.

Most of the meetings were held with advisors and staff for several US senators and representatives who are at the heart of the current US tax reform debate.

In the Senate, these include the advisors and staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri).
In the House of Representatives, Mr Ebanks and met with staff and advisors for Foreign Affairs Policy Director for Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-New York) who serves on both the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on Financial Services; Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), the Chairman of the House Joint Economic Committee; Congressman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means (Tax) Committee; and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri), who serves on the House Financial Services Committee and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

Mr Welcome said the visits were well timed. ‘One day after our meetings, Congressional leaders released their tax reform framework. We heard in many meetings how important it is for Cayman to continue educating leaders on our strong record of cooperation during this dynamic political period’, he said.

In addition to tax reform, financial services regulatory reform was an important topic in meetings with staff for several lawmakers; and officials from the US State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. Mr Ebanks and Mr Welcome also met with the State Department’s lead contact from the UK Desk.

‘Reform – including addressing issues such as beneficial ownership – appears to be a growing interest in the US,’ Mr Ebanks said.

State Department officials expressed appreciation for the opportunity to learn more about Cayman’s collection and maintenance of beneficial ownership information, and were interested in Cayman’s briefing on the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes report, which rated Cayman on par with countries such as Canada and Germany in terms of international tax cooperation.

Minister of Financial Services, the Hon. Tara Rivers, was unable to travel to DC as she and the Premier, the Hon. Alden McLaughlin, were attending financial services-related meetings in Brussels.

‘I am looking forward to follow-up meetings with key US stakeholders as soon as possible, in the effort to continue strengthening relationships and improving understanding not just in the US but also in the UK and the EU’, she said.

‘This dialogue with international counterparts helps to inform policy development and legislation on a broader scale, which in turn informs the development and effectiveness of accepted global financial services regulatory initiatives’.

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