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Gilbert Morris

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best viagra look times;”>Immediately, generic cialis decease I saw this as a last chance to defend the notion of the rule of law. And whilst I think most “Caribbean Financial Centres” are and have been little more than jurisdictions offering some financial services rather than actual financial centres, case I sprung into action. I drew up an outline for an Organisation of International Financial Centres (OIFC). I arranged small meetings with Ministers responsible for financial centres. I wrote to every financial centre Directorate in the Caribbean. In 2011, I

 

 

gave the Hamilton Memorial Lecture for the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) at Hamilton, Bermuda. (http://stepcaribbeanconference.com/Delegate/Archive/Speaker_List_CC11.htm)

 

I called on financial sector officials in the IFCs advising them that at the G-20 meeting, after China’s refusal, Mr. Obama asked China to develop guidelines for cross-border financial services regulations. I advised that IFCs should form a Working Group with the objective of going to China, offering to assist in the drafting of those guidelines. Leaders of a few centres responded but most seemed to lack the confidence to take such bold action. I warned them that if China crafted those guidelines without their input, it was likely that the IFCs would have no final leverage to define, protect or advance their position or perhaps existence. In 2012 and 2013, I was commissioned to write a series of papers for the IFC Review Journal, London (the most recent: Organise or Die: The Future of Financial Centres – www.ifcreview.com/restricted.aspx?articleId=6537&areaId=41) in which I re-emphasised the point.

 

There was no coordinated response. The G-20 awaited China’s guidelines in 2010 at Toronto & Seoul; in Cannes in 2011; in 2012 at Los Cabos, Mexico; and again in Russia 2013. Still nothing. I was left to conclude that there is something fatalistic about Caribbean leadership, and that we lack the instinct for broad strategic initiatives, with the objective of “moving the needle” on global issues; fearing it seems, that we are not significant enough, believing that we cannot force an influence even in those areas essential to our well-being or existence.

 

I concluded further:

 

  1. We have not merely failed in cultivating Financial Centres, we lack the thinking that underpins financial centres as a essential feature of the global financial system.

 

  1. We are merely jurisdictions bottom-feeding in the global financial system, despite the significance (of Cayman, BVI and Bermuda, especially) in efficiency, capital aggregation and cost of capital mobilisation.

 

  1. Our political leaders do not understand the difference between a financial centre (a legal and foreign policy/trade and services structure and financial services (financial products). They obsess about products, the least meaningful application of political power to financial centres.

 

  1. For most IFCs – as is the case in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos – for instance, our financial sectors are accidental and structured improperly. Our political directorate finds financial services nebulous and irritating and we are not the principal drivers of the sectors, based on a deep understanding of the global financial system and our role within it.

 

  1. We lack the foreign policy resources and expertise, or the discipline and insight to know that we do not know how to cultivate an actual financial centre.

 

  1. We lack a clear perspective on what is actually happening with the G-20, OECD, FAFT, IRS, EU impositions and we are prepared to abandon our own constitutional rules to comply, thinking we can accommodate those whose aim is our annihilation

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    . The article in the Financial Times (G-20 leader back drive to unmask shell companies), represents the result of our failure and incapacity.

 

 

It confirms and furthers the understanding which may be drawn from my 1998 lecture at Cambridge University, at which I said: “What we are witnessing with this OCED Blacklisting has little to do with taxes. It has everything to do with the economic philosophy of the future, in which powerful larger nations have abandoned the rule of law by forcing their “rules” – which they do not follow – on smaller nations. Yet, smaller nations have also abandoned the rule of law in their sad reaction to the Blacklisting, trading the prestige of the rights of their citizens by agreeing to unconstitutional initiatives, without argument or the presentation of alternatives”.

 

If I am right – again, sadly, I fear – the death of financial centres will have been exaggerated because London, will have itself, The US will have Colorado, Delaware, Alaska, Wisconsin and Nevada; Russia will still have Cyprus; China will have Macau, Shanghai and the eternal Hong Kong; India will have Mauritius and Turkey is launching its own. The Middle East will be permitted to do whatever they want so long as they have oil, and Panama will be left alone so long as the canal is essential to Eastern Seaboard/China trade.

 

Singapore will continue to stand out as the shining example of what IFCs – particularly Caribbean Financial services jurisdictions – should have been cultivating over the last 20 years. It is not merely well-regulated. Singapore set out to ensure it created a “leverage position” for itself – such as I advised on the China Guidelines – in the global financial system; meaning that larger nations must tread carefully when dealing with Singapore; since they represent one fifth of the world’s currency trading platform. It reinforces my argument made for the last 25 years that governing one’s country well is a strategic advantage for small nations, which too few small nations understand. Second, Caribbean jurisdictions – used to begging or capitulating or both – failed to generate, deepen or advance leverage options as Singapore has done, staking its future not merely in good governance or strategic financial services, but also in strategic relationships, such as its role in sourcing and aggregating Chinese Foreign Investment; which gives Singapore a voice, role and prestige beyond its minuscule size. (Panama must be given credit – under the tutelage of my learned friend His Excellency Ambassador Morgan – for having recognised the leverages in having demanded the return of the canal in 1979 and achieving it in 1999; using the canal to force a ‘hands off’ position for its financial sector against the G-20).

 

In conclusion, as I have argued on other occasions, the tragedy will be the rule of law globally, and locally, the loss of the only significantly global sector of our ‘one legged economies’ in the region. Major international banks have hightailed, and what will be left are third tier financial institutions consistent with our capacity and our weak structures born of intuition, lacking innovation, which we attempted to preserve through capitulation. (We seem to have a “feed off of whatever is left” strategy; as we see senior lawyers in The Bahamas asking for the allowance of foreign lawyers in a country where the number of lawyers are increasing faster than the rest of the region. They have failed to develop or sustain the financial services sector, and so now that they have fed off of it, without improving or preserving it, its on to the next thing).

 

 

Last, I have no fear of contradiction when I say: The G-20 financial centres have not complied with their own demands driven by the OECD and the FATF. At the 2009 G-20 meeting in London, President Lula of Brazil – as then he was – made it plain that it was the G-20 – criminal bankers and incompetent regulators – who nearly destroyed the global banking system. Yet, at that meeting with Royal Bank of Scotland nearly gone; Lehman Brothers gone, Bear Stearns gone, Northernrock gone, almost all of Iceland gone, all owing to this criminality and incompetence, with the financial world collapsing around them, the G-20 leaders concentrated on International Financial Centres that had nothing to do with the crimes or the crisis. Last year in the midst of the LIBOR scandal, the G-20 again fulminated about financial centres. This year, even with a global scandal brewing because of G-20 banks colluding to breach Iran sanctions, resulting in the death of soldiers.

 

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-10/barclays-hsbc-sued-by-u-s-soldiers-over-attacks-in-iraq.html), still, they concentrate on IFCs.

 

IFCs have adopted Tax Information Exchange Agreements – which are unconstitutional, they adopted the protocols of the protocols in Title III of the USA Patriot Act 2001, which are unconstitutional and amongst other things, our jurisdictions are adopting further unilateral protocols under the FATCA – the initial proposals of which I argued against in 2006 and before (http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/caribnet/cgiscript/csArticles/articles/000047/ 004730.htm).

 

A thinking person must imagine that given all the Tax Initiatives to which the Caribbean IFC have capitulated, only two results are really possible that should condition the perspective on IFCs:

 

Either:

 

  1. Having capitulated to the G-20 rules over the last 15 years, we must be the best most well-regulated jurisdictions in the history of the global financial system and so the continued attacks by the G-20 are bogus

 

or,

 

  1. The initiatives the G-20 have imposed for 15 years, are dangerous, ineffectual, incompetent and so the G-20 cannot be trusted to impose rules, and again their continued attacks would be bogus

 

Either way, the G-20 can only maintain its one-sided impositions on IFCs through force, which is inconsistent with international legitimacy based upon the rule of law founded on the Vienna Convention on the validity of international agreements in 1969, under which no agreement is valid if achieved by force.

 

In the FT.com article, next year’s G-20 initiative is to attack “tax avoidance” a perfectly legal financial management tool, which is likely to lead to additional goal-post moving unconstitutional impositions. The result of this illegitimacy of international action will be that Financial Centres will migrate to other powerful nations within the G-20 and those which can say no, like Panama. The ability to cultivate global rules for coordinated cross-border regulations will become prolix,

 

 

bundling with other issues between large nations, determined in ‘balance of power’ terms, rather than on the rule of law. As such, we appear to be on a return to the global system of the 18th and 19th centuries, in which ‘might was right’; the question is, did we ever leave it?

 

No Caribbean leader has shown the confidence or self-regard to answer that question.