Cayman Islands set to open up funds to greater scrutiny, FT reports

  • Opening up? George Town, capital of the Cayman Islands

    Opening up? George Town, capital of the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are reportedly poised to open thousands of companies and hedge funds domiciled there to greater scrutiny, ending decades of secrecy in the offshore Caribbean territory.

According to a report by the Financial Times, the British overseas territory is introducing sweeping reforms that will make public the names of thousands of previously hidden companies and their directors. It’s all in an effort for the island nation to shed its reputation for clandestine financial activity.

The FT report says it has obtained proposals sent to Cayman-based hedge fund businesses by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) outlining its plans to create a public database of funds domiciled on the island for the first time. The database would also reportedly list the funds’ directors, the FT said.

CIMA, which declined to comment to the FT, also plans to require directors to undergo a vetting process to ensure they are qualified to act as fiduciaries for investors, the publication said.

The proposed changes come amid a barrage of international criticism for the tax haven’t minimal disclosure requirements and tough corporate privacy laws in recent years.

“The Caymans have borne the brunt of attacks on offshore centres from angry US and EU politicians as they struggled to keep pace with fast-moving new global regulations,” the report reads. “They even featured in rancorous debates over the tax affairs of US presidential candidate Mitt Romney.”

More call for reform has come from hedge fund investors than politicians, however, as they currently have no way of verifying details of Cayman funds they invest in or the directors who run them.

A 2011 investigation by the Financial Times exposed how directors for Cayman-based funds can be anywhere in the world, and are don’t necessarily always have the required knowledge or experience. The report uncovered certain directors in the Caymans that were sitting on the boards of hundreds of hedge funds at once.

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Published Jan 18, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm)

Cayman Islands set to open up funds to greater scrutiny, FT reports

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