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(CNS Business): Caymanians who are writing negative things online are undermining efforts to promote the jurisdiction’s financial services sector overseas, said Cayman’s new UK-based representative. Lord Blencathra told CNS in an email interview that his aim was to keep selling the positive messages about Cayman, again and again and again. “But it cannot be done if it is undermined by things said and written by Caymanians,” he said. The Tory peer said he was saddened by negative comments on the web as the internet is read not just by local people but by politicians and global financial players as well.
“What appears on the web and the reality are poles apart but observers sitting thousands of miles away might be fooled into think that life is awful in Cayman,” said the new director of the London office and former UK Conservative MP.
“These critics should spend a few weeks in winter in the poorer areas of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Tower Hamlets in London, or Glasgow and then thank the Good Lord for their blessings,” he told those writing negative posts online as he referred to just a few of the many cities in Britain with severe problems of poverty and deprivation.
“Freedom of expression is the greatest freedom we have and is the central pillar of our democracy. And it is a British right and a Caymanian right to have a good moan about things but being too negative undermines all the work we do presenting the correct good image overseas,” the peer added.
David McLean, who was given his peerage and appointed to the UK House of Lords earlier this year, said his role was to give the Cayman Islands a voice in Westminster and with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He said that the current UK prime minister has Cayman’s interests at heart, and if the UK coalition government is happy with what Cayman is doing, it will fight for the jurisdiction both in Europe and Britain.
Appointed to lead the charge for promoting Cayman overseas by the premier last month, Lord Blencathra was confident that while David Cameron is prime minister, European countries such as France and Germany that “would dearly like to damage the City of London and its friends in Cayman” won’t get the chance. Cameron’s recent veto of potentially harmful proposals to the City will also benefit the Cayman Islands and its financial services industry, McLean noted by way of illustration.
He explained that his role was to help Cayman fight those who misunderstand the important and positive part it plays on the global financial stage.
“It is clear that many of the major players in the EU bitterly resent the success of the City of London and will do anything they can to curb this success. As Cayman plays a vital role in partnership with the City, I must ensure that our role is understood and that our involvement is key to the City’s well-being,” he said.
The London Office is working closely with organisations supportive of the Cayman Islands as an IFC, especially Cayman Finance because they have influence and high level contacts with banks, lawyers, accountants and hedge funds, he noted.
“The greatest enemy to the Cayman Islands is ignorance of our compliance with all major international standards for financial services, the recognition of our high degree of cooperation with regulatory agencies, and a failure to understand the role we play globally," McLean said.
“That is why it is so important that the Cayman Islands Government and organisations such as CIMA and Cayman Finance continue to deliver the message, powerfully and unabashedly, in London, Washington and in global media that we have so much to offer and that we have ticked every box on tax transparency and regulation. Getting this message across is the greatest challenge.”
Echoing the sentiments of the former chair of Cayman Finance and staunch advocate for the financial services sector, Anthony Travers, McLean said that some parts of the UK media are philosophically opposed to low taxation and believe that high tax should be the norm throughout the world. He said there were the many left wing organizations, including charities, who claim that the problems of the developing world can be laid at the door of tax neutral countries such as Cayman.
“What they cannot or will not accept is that large scale government corruption in some of these developing nations, the absence of the rule of law, or civil war and no property legislation are the major contributors to their ills,” he added. The London office director said it was poorly understood that Cayman facilitates investment into “developing nations due to the efficiency of utilizing financial structures in a tax-neutral jurisdiction,” which, he said, allowed the pooling of investor interest from around the world.
McLean also noted that he intended to promote Cayman’s other positive aspects.
“I want to sell the attractions of Cayman as a leading holiday destination with the finest water eco system in the whole Caribbean and with world beating marine wildlife parks. I also need to let the world know that it is a friendly, stable country for investors with a fine workforce,” he added.
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