If the UK and its satellite secrecy jurisdictions were taken together, they would constitute the largest secrecy jurisdiction in the world, according to their scores on the 2013 Financial Secrecy Index.
In these jurisdictions such as Cayman, Jersey or BVI the UK has extensive powers, for example to appoint key government officials and approve laws.
Three recent local news items from Cayman and the Bahamas underscore the extent of the UK’s influence in everyday governance:
– The UK last week approved the Cayman Islands 2014/15 budget plan: “United Kingdom budget watchdogs approved the Cayman Islands 2014/15 spending plan Wednesday, just five days before the Legislative Assembly was due to meet to review the upcoming budget.”
“Premier Alden McLaughlin said last week that all budget numbers – save one – came in within parameters set by the U.K.”
– Also in Cayman, the government justification for a controversial immigration policy which set a limit on the time foreign workers were allowed to stay in the country seems to have been “dead wrong“.
As it turns out “European Convention on Nationality — which states that foreigners are entitled to citizenship in countries where they’ve lived for 10 years or more — did not extend to Cayman”.
An editorial in Compass Cayman asks: ” Why did our British administrators responsible for international agreements, including the Governor (at the time, Bruce Dinwiddy) and the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, allow Cayman politicians to promote such a consequential fiction?”
– Meanwhile the Privy Council in London has granted an injunction stopping dredging activities in the Bahamas, which threaten “some of the most pristine and ecologically significant reefs in the region”.
As the Tax Justice Network notes, for the Bahamas and other Commonwealth countries having the Privy Council as their ultimate court of appeal is a “legal backstop” which “provides a potent bedrock upon which their financial services industries have been built.”