Cayman Islands consultation on beneficial ownership registry: a chance to influence policy in a secrecy jurisdiction?

Compass Cayman is reporting that the Cayman Islands government has announced a public consultation on a beneficial ownership registry, following the announcement by David Cameron last week of a publicly accessible registry in the UK.

The Cayman financial sector will no doubt respond to the public consultation, and their arguments will most likely be along the lines of what the IFC Forum (a group of offshore financial companies) is already saying about the proposed UK registry: it will damage the competitive interests of the country, the risks are too high, it will be too expensive, it will be too complicated, etc.

Could this public consultation in Cayman be an opportunity to provide some counterbalance to the offshore finance sector point of view?

There must be local citizens who are not happy with a situation in which the financial sector holds over 1 trillion USD in assets while almost 2,800 homes (out of a population of 57,000) are receiving some sort of government assistance, and who are aware of some of the negative side-effects of anonymous ownership.

At the very least, it could be interesting to try and measure public opinion. For example, in the British Virgin Islands 53% of respondents to a small online poll said that the owners of Virgin Islands companies should be kept secret. The first and only comment so far on the Compass Cayman article about the consultation starts by saying “It looks as if the UK is determined to destroy the financial services industry in the Cayman Islands”.

The date and format for the consultation have not yet been announced. In the meantime, ideas and comments welcome!

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