Published 17th January 2019, 4:2pm
BRUSSELS, Belgium – Premier Hon Alden McLaughlin, Minister of Financial Services Hon. Tara Rivers, Attorney General Hon. Samuel Bulgin and the Cayman delegation are winding down meetings in Europe and will travel to New York over the weekend to speak at the Cayman Finance Breakfast Seminar where Mr. McLaughlin, and the delegation will continue to promote the Cayman Islands as a reliable and stable jurisdiction in which to do business.
As of Thursday, Premier McLaughlin, Minister Rivers and the delegation have had 10 meetings in Brussels, two in France and one meeting is scheduled tomorrow in Germany. On Monday, 14 January, the delegation met with Mr. David Boublil, Mr. Gints Freimanis and Ms. Emer Traynor. Mr. Boublil is a member of the Cabinet of Pierre Moscovici, the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. Mr. Freimanis is a member of the Cabinet of Valdis Dombrovskis, whose responsibilities include Financial Services and Capital Markets. Ms. Traynor is Deputy Head of Unit at the Director General of Taxation and Customs Union (DG Taxud).
Also Monday the delegation met with representatives of the European Union Code of Conduct Group (COCG). The COCG is charged with assessing jurisdictions to determine whether they potentially have tax regimes that are harmful to EU Member States. Ms Fabizia Lapecorella, the Chair of the Code of Conduct Group participated via telephone as she was in Rome.
Other members of the Code of Conduct Group meeting with the Cayman Delegation were Mr. Andreas Strub, Mr. Aloys Rigaut, and Ms Emer Traynor, representing DG Taxud. The discussions focused on the commitments made by the Cayman Islands and our intention of continuing to meet all international global standards. Ms Lapecorella noted that she was aware of the excellent cooperation and engagement by the Cayman Islands.
In both meetings with the EU representatives the Premier and Minister Rivers, along with Mr. Bulgin, outlined the leading position of the Cayman Islands, over many years, in adhering to international standards regarding regulatory and tax cooperation as well as anti-money laundering and prevention of terrorist financing. More recently the Cayman Islands, along with many other financial centers, passed legislation to adopt and implement the new international standards on economic substance.
The EU representatives thanked the Premier and delegation for meeting with them and commented that the “good work and positive engagement” with the EU was appreciated. They noted that the legislation passed by the Cayman Islands and other jurisdictions in December 2018 is still being assessed by the Commission. However, they committed to advise the Cayman Islands technical team of the outcome once the assessment is completed.
Over the rest of the week in Brussels the delegation met with the Hungarian Permanent Representative as well as with the permanent representatives of Belgium, Cyprus, Luxemburg, Austria, Romania, Spain and the Netherlands.
In France meetings were held with Mr. Gael Perraud, Deputy Director of International Taxation and European Affairs, as well as with senior representatives of Secretariat General on European Affairs. The Secretariat is a department of the Prime Minister and deals with several matters including taxation and the OECD.
In all of these meetings the delegation reiterated the positive engagement by the Cayman Islands and the measures taken to address the concerns of the EU. The Premier also sought to understand whether there were issues that need clarifying or further discussion. In the meeting with the Netherlands the Premier and Minister raised concerns regarding the blacklist that was recently issued by the Netherlands Government, in particular the lack of engagement prior to the list being published and the rationale for including the Cayman Islands on the list.
On Friday the delegation travels to Germany for the final meeting in Europe after which they travel to New York.
Premier McLaughlin commented that “Whilst the EU delegation were not at this stage able to provide any insight on whether the Cayman Islands had passed muster and would avoid being blacklisted, they did not mention anything glaring that has so far concerned them.
“However, we are taking no chances. The extensive engagement throughout the week in Europe, at the EU level as well as with representatives of several member states, including the influential French and Germans, was important to help ensure that those in the EU Commission, and in some Member States, who decide on these things, or who make recommendations to the decision makers, understand fully that we take our role as an international finance center seriously and that we will continue to adhere to the evolving international standards. It also assisted in a better understanding on where some states were in their thinking,” he said.
Minister Rivers noted that “We have been directly engaging with the EU for almost two years, both at the technical as well as the political level, including some five visits by myself to Brussels and three for the Premier. We have worked with financial services partners at home in crafting the legislation and I am proud of the work we have done and for the support of Industry.
“In addition, we have consulted with the EU along the way to ensure that the elements that they were seeking to be in legislation were present. In short we are collectively doing what we can to maintain a vibrant financial services business for years to come,” she said.