The liquidators of First Cayman Bank have opened negotiations with the bank's directors and officers with a view to holding them financially accountable for their responsibilities. A lawsuit for negligence is also being considered against the bank's auditors. This and the fact that professional fees and disbursements totalling $1.16 million were incurred in the first 23 weeks of provisional or official liquidation were the highlights of the second report of FCB's liquidators, Ian Wight and Michael Pilling, of Deloitte & Touche, dated May 14.
Further details obtained by Offshore Alert about the UK government's new proposals for regulations in its Overseas Territories confirm that what is being planned represents an offshore financial centre's worst nightmare. And there is growing evidence that independent offshore centres like the Bahamas and Antigua are also facing international pressure to conform to new standards.
Following pressure from Offshore Alert, the Cayman government has done a U-turn and launched a fresh investigation into the suspicious circumstances in which Minister of Land John McLean came into possession of Crown Land worth tens of millions of dollars. In a letter dated March 17, Attorney General Richard Coles, acting on behalf of the Governor, John Owen, wrote to us stating that McLean "is concerned that the matter should be clarified as soon as possible".
Readers who followed last month's story about the US government's lawsuit accusing four banks and the Antiguan government of illegally divvying up $7 million in drug profits might be interested to know that Antigua recently appointed the banks' owner, Bruce Rappaport, as its Ambassador to Russia.The appointment of Rappaport to this official position on December 3, 1997, adds an interesting twist to the recent lawsuit brought by the US government against the Antigua-based Swiss American Bank group and Inter-Maritime Bank, of Geneva.
The largest land development agreement to be signed in the history of the Turks & Caicos Islands calls for the construction of a harbour and duty free zone in the southern end of Grand Turk that is estimated to cost $312 million in a four phased development plan, reported the Turks & Caicos Free Press.The agreement was signed in December by the government and Grand Turk Harbour Development Company Limited, which is registered in TCI. The first phase of the plan is scheduled to begin early this year.
If there's nothing decent on television, residents of the Turks & Caicos Islands can always go and sit in on the local Legislative Council for their fix of high drama and farce.One of the better episodes of LegCo, as the elected body is known, came during a debate on The Companies (Amendment) Bill on December 4, 1997.
UK Dependent Territories that are also offshore financial centres have until 1999 to comply with a "check-list" of four key areas of financial regulations to improve standards, UK Foreign Minister Robin Cook announced in London today.
Cayman's minister for land, John McLean, is facing possible legal action after he was awarded Crown land potentially worth millions of dollars that another local resident claims is legally his.Leroy Johnson has consulted attorneys about bringing a civil lawsuit against McLean and has even gone so far as to file a criminal complaint against the minister with the Cayman police, alleging theft.
Excerpts of a discussion at a meeting on December 3, 1997 of the Finance Committee of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly in which opposition members raised the delicate matter of whether the UK government had asked Cayman to begin recognizing fiscal offences in its mutual legal assistance laws. When Offshore Alert first confirmed the existence of a tax initiative in July, the Cayman government accused us of reporting lies. But, as you might be able to discern from the dialogue, there clearly were discussions on the subject, although it appears that the issue has temporarily gone away.
The conviction of Bermuda MP Trevor Woolridge for sexually assaulting a woman has been overturned on appeal after a judge ruled that the trial magistrate's links with the ruling United Bermuda Party created a risk of bias.According to a report in The Royal Gazette newspaper, Chief Justice Austin Ward told the appeal hearing: "I am satisfied that the conduct of the trial was unfair to the appellant: there was a real possibility of injustice as regards bias."
After a court battle lasting nearly 18 months, Swissair-subsidiary Nuance International Holdings Ltd. has finally been given approval to purchase a chain of local duty free shops in the Cayman Islands.The Cayman Islands Immigration Board reversed an earlier ruling - that was itself a reversal of an April, 1996 ruling - and granted Nuance permission to purchase Island Companies Ltd.
McKeeva Bush, a director of First Cayman Bank who lied about his directorship after the bank collapsed amid allegations of fraud, is expected to be officially removed as a government minister when the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly begins its next session on Friday, October 31.Bush has become an acute embarrassment to the Cayman government since First Cayman collapsed earlier this month, particularly with an international banking conference taking place on the island.
Church minister Trevor Woolridge has quit the opposition Progressive Labour Party after being convicted of sexually assaulting a woman parishioner.
Twelve months after a similar law was introduced in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, which is home to more than 200,000 foreign companies, became the second Caribbean Dependent Territory to pass wide-ranging anti-money laundering legislation at the behest of the UK government. Bermuda is expected to be next, possibly before the end of the year.
UK GAO report outlines drive to force offshore regulators to co-operate more with foreign authorities
A wide-ranging report into the Dependent Territories by the UK National Audit Office has outlined a further drive by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to force financial regulators in offshore jurisdictions to co-operate more with foreign authorities.
The ruling Free National Movement party gained another seat in the Bahamian parliament when it won a by-election in the South Andros constituency, which the opposition Progressive Liberal Party had held for 41 years.The seat had been vacated by former Prime Minister and PLP leader Sir Lynden Pindling, who had represented South Andros for 30 years before retiring from politics after his party's humiliating defeat in the March 14 general election.
British policeman Colin Coxall has been forced to resign as Bermuda's Police Commissioner six months before the end of his three-year contract following pressure from the government. He will step down on October 31.
Statistical comparison of Caribbean-based offshore financial centers. Figures supplied by Foreign & Commonwealth Office/National Audit Office.
A petition to de-certify the election in November, 1996, of Linford Pierson as a Member of the Cayman Legislative Assembly was due to be withdrawn this month.Former MLA Berna Thompson-Murphy, who lost her seat to Pierson in the 1996 election, had filed a petition in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands in December, 1996, claiming Pierson's election should be thrown out and that she should replace her.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the UK and Cayman Islands governments are still denying the existence of an initiative from London requesting that Cayman begin co-operating with tax investigations carried out by G7 countries, as was reported last month by Offshore Alert.The ‘does it or doesn't it exist' debate has reached almost farcical proportions, largely as a result of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London refusing to discuss the subject in any depth and the Cayman government refusing to discuss the subject at all.
Letter to OffshoreAlert's editor from Nev Johnson, Press Officer, Foreign and Commonwealth Office trying to coorect "erroneous" rumours about the Cayman Islands being forced to co-operate with tax investigations. It later transpired that the "rumours" were accurate.
Does it exist or doesn't it? That was the question being asked in the Cayman Islands this month after widespread reports that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London sent a directive to Governor John Owen instructing Cayman to pass legislation opening up bank accounts for tax investigations carried out by the world's major countries.
A series of recently-concluded talks between the US government and a Cayman government/private sector delegation that began last week in Washington have been termed "extremely beneficial" by Cayman governor John Owen, who headed the delegation.The meetings were designed to "continue to foster good relations with the US government" and to discuss problems of mutual interest, said Owen, who initiated the first series of talks last year.
Letter to OffshoreAlert's editor from Nev Johnson, Press Officer, Foreign and Commonwealth Office concerning news that the Cayman Islands was being forced to co-operate with foreign tax investigations.
The Cayman Islands has introduced another piece of anti-money laundering legislation with the passage this month of the Misuse of Drugs (International Co-operation) Law 1997, which allows foreign countries to apply for legal assistance when investigating drug-related offences.
The future of Taiwan's economic link with the Bahamas has been jeopardized after the Bahamas broke its eight-year diplomatic relationship with Taiwan in favour of China, the Nassau Guardian reported.The policy shift followed the opening of an $80 million container port in Freeport, in which Hutchison Port Property, a subsidiary of Anglo/Sino firm Hutchison Whampoa, has a 50 per cent stake, reported the Guardian.
Bermuda's lawyers, a firm of whom recently charged a client $400 for obtaining a $5 copy of someone's will, have surpassed themselves in the area self-preservation through the passage of amendments to The Companies Act 1981.Following the introduction of The Companies Amendment Act 1996, which became law last year, it has become more difficult, if not impossible, for creditors of failed Bermuda-registered companies to sue those who are partly responsible for the failures.
Since Offshore Business News & Research was formed in November, 1996, several clients have asked why the company is based in Miami and not in one of the offshore domiciles it covers, such as Bermuda, the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands. The reason is that OBNR's founder has already been thrown off one island for writing investigative articles about powerful people and there is little doubt in his mind that he would be thrown off others for publishing similar stories. Such a scenario is not a consideration in the United States, where there is genuine freedom of the press and that is why OBNR is located in Miami, which also happens to be a gateway to the Caribbean. Below, Mr. Marchant goes into the circumstances of his forced removal from Bermuda, where he lived and worked from 1990 to 1996. He believes that what happened to him illustrates that, while Bermuda is generally a sophisticated society, occasionally it lives up to the ‘tinpot island' image that it has tried so hard and successfully in recent years to overcome.
Sir Lynden Pindling has announced he is stepping down as leader of the opposition Progressive Liberal Party after 32 years, including 25 as Prime Minister, and is also quitting politics following his party's comprehensive defeat in the Bahamas General Election on March 14.Pindling was one of only six PLP MPs to keep hold of their seats as Hubert Ingraham's Free National Movement party won a record 34 of the 40 seats available. The PLP will meet soon to elect a replacement.
Bermuda was in shock last week following the sudden resignation of David Saul as Premier after just 19 months in office.Saul caught everyone by surprise by giving only a week's notice that he was stepping down as leader and announcing that he was also quitting as an MP a few days after that.His resignation has caused concern among international businessmen, who fear a leadership battle could affect the economy.
Letter to OffshoreAlert's editor from Michael D. Constantine, Deputy Superintendent, Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Financial Services Commission.
Letter to OffshoreAlert's editor from Dale Peters regarding derogatory comments about the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The hearing to decertify the November 1996 election of Cayman Island Member of Parliament Linford Pierson was today adjourned until April by Grand Court Justice George Harre to allow Pierson to take his place at the opening 1997 session of parliament.
Bahamian opposition leader Sir Lynden Pindling, who all but destroyed his country's international business sector when he was Prime Minister from 1967 to 1992, has been accused of inciting gang members to murder a member of the government in the run up to a General Election on March 14.Housing Minister Chuck Virgill was shot to death just one day after Pindling appeared to incite members of drugs gangs who support him to take violent action against the government.
Bermuda's Progressive Labour Party has written to the island's international companies asking for contributions towards their campaign fund for the next General Election.
Is the Cayman Islands new ‘Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Law' a smoke and mirrors act - as some in rival jurisdictions have indicated - or is it a genuine attempt at deterring money laundering? The answer will only be known the first few times that the Cayman authorities receive requests for assistance from law enforcement agencies in the U. S. and the U. K.
Cable & Wireless is suing the Bermuda government for breaking its monopoly on international calls by granting a licence to newly-formed rival TeleBermuda International. TeleBermuda plans to begin operating next month and is threatening to slash overseas rates by up to 17 per cent for calls to some countries. Sources in Bermuda say Cable & Wireless have not ruled out the possibility of applying for an injunction to prevent TeleBermuda from offering their service until the legal dispute has been determined by Bermuda Supreme Court.
The Minister of Finance has begun separate bankruptcy proceedings against lawyers Julian Hall and Charles Vaucrosson one week after obtaining judgments against them for alleged unpaid government fees and taxes.
The Bermuda Monetary Authority has announced an updated Code of Conduct to assist in the detection and disclosure of information in relation to money laundering.
Many Bermuda retailers will have to merge to survive, the tourism industry should be remarketed and new premier David Saul's skin colour is not a bar to him winning a general election, according to one of the island's most distinguished business and political figures, Sir David Gibbons.In a wide-ranging interview on the state of the economy and measures that can be taken to improve it, the Bank of Butterfield chairman and former premier said there was evidence that local building projects and international company formations and expansions put on hold because of the referendum were now being reactivated.
Bermuda's $29 billion-capitalized international business sector looks set for a renewed boom following the emphatic rejection of independence last month and the appointment of a new, business-oriented premier, David Saul.There are already signs that investors in insurance and other areas who had held off until after the referendum result was known are now going ahead with their plans to form on the island.
The Bermuda Government's proposed compulsory national pensions scheme for the workforce will not necessarily lead to a boom in the business of life assurance companies on the island, according to one local insurance boss.John Sainsbury, head of Argus Insurance, said, initially, many of the plans are likely to be small and the administrative costs for insurers are likely to be high.
Lawyers Julian Hall and Charles Vaucrosson are among 12 defendants who are being sued by the Minister of Finance for a total of $1.05 million in unpaid taxes and fees.The government department has started legal action at Supreme Court to recover money it claims it is owed.
The likelihood of foreign exchange controls being lifted in their entirety in the Budget on February 14 is considered to be virtually non-existent by Bermuda's financial community. While a complete overhaul of Bermuda's financial regulations may have been the Government's intention as recently as a few months ago, the issue has been turned on its head by talk of independence, according to businessmen.