Dr. Gilbert Morris Defends Financial Services In The Caribbean

05/22/16 12 AM

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Dr. Gilbert Moss provided this defence of the Financial Services offered by Caribbean countries.  He writes: “There is a false narrative raging across the world, which has gained traction in America and Europe in which ordinary citizens are being invited to believe that their loss of income, debts, paucity of jobs and the general economic malaise crippling their communities is not because of mismanagement, poor judgment, irresponsible warmongering and even corruption at home…but that the sole reason for their distress is the existence of International Financial Centres (IFC) – particularly former colonies in the Caribbean – together with jurisdictions such as Cayman Islands, BVI, Bermuda and Turks and Caicos Islands.”  You may click here for the full piece.

Gilbert Morris With Former PM Owen Arthur

04/10/16 12 AM

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Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados 

Dr. Gilbert Morris, the political commentator, writes as follows: “The Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur and I had a friendly debate about the future of the Caribbean here in Turks and Caicos put on by Fortis the power company. This is the 3rd such event. Last year the presentation was given by His Excellency Andrew Young Jr.

All the presentations are in the link:
Watch it Live!! Fortis TCI 2016 Plenary Session! Today, March 30, 2016 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
http://livestream.com/lifeproductions/plenary

 

The Panama Papers By Gilbert Morris

04/10/16 12 AM

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Dr. Gilbert Morris 

Mark Brantley, the Minister of Foreign Affairs St Christopher and Nevis

This is a special analysis by Dr. Gilbert Morris, the political commentator of Bahamian and Turks Island status, who wrote this piece in answer to the leaks of the Panama Papers along with Mark Brantley, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Kitts.

Click here to read… 

 

  

 

Gilbert Morris – Trouble in Paradise: Inside Canadian banks’ billion-dollar Caribbean struggle

03/08/15 2 PM

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They arrived in droves starting at 5:30 a.m., desperate to secure a steady pay cheque. By midmorning, the anxious mob totalled 5,000 people. Sandals, a Caribbean hotel chain, was hosting a job fair in Barbados to hire staff for a brand new resort. Because thousands of people showed up for 600 jobs on the October morning last year, scores of applicants were forced to wait outside under the blistering sun.

Things went from testy to unruly as the temperature neared 32 degrees; Sandals had no choice but to call the cops.

The chaos is one face of the ugly downturn sweeping through the Caribbean. Though the global financial crisis technically ended a few years ago, its punishing aftershocks are still being felt—and they’re amplified on island states that depend on tourist dollars for support. Countries like the Bahamas and Barbados are marketed as idyllic vacation spots with white sand beaches, but their local economies are anything but serene.

In the Bahamas, the unemployment rate was 15.7% at the start of February—higher than in Portugal, one of Europe’s worst-hit economies, and well over double Canada’s rate. The situation is even worse in Barbados—and arguably even more surprising, since the loyalty of British tourists to “Little England” had seemed to be bred in the bone.

The colonial tie meant little during the financial crisis, and the resulting downturn drove Barbados’s debt load to nearly 100% of its gross domestic product. Struggling to pay the bills, the government fired 3,000 public servants last year. It’s also gone cap in hand to hotel developers, offering major tax concessions to spur investment—hence the scene at Sandals.

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Financial institutions are, of course, at the epicentre of this storm. Take the case of Sagicor Financial Corp., a leading regional life insurer, based in Barbados. Because the country’s sovereign debt has been downgraded several times, Sagicor’s corporate debt rating has also suffered. In January, the company abruptly announced it was relocating its head office outside of Barbados, shocking the island’s 290,000 citizens.

Canadian lenders have it even worse. Our banks are often praised for sidestepping the U.S. mortgage crisis and for avoiding the ugly economic woes that still wreak havoc in Europe, but the truth is, they’ve hit trouble in paradise. Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce are by far the Caribbean’s three largest lenders, dominating both personal and commercial banking. Combined, they’ve written off more than $1 billion in the region since the Great Recession.

To stanch the bleeding, the banks have been restructuring their regional operations by shrinking their footprints and by leaning on specific countries, such as energy-rich Trinidad and Tobago, to drive growth. At first it seemed like a smart plan, but then energy prices plummeted. Some 45% of Trinidad’s GDP comes from the energy industry, as do 80% of its exports.

Shareholders barely noticed when Canada’s banks started suffering from this tropical malaise five years ago. Because the Big Six lenders were on a tear, many of their mistakes were glossed over. Bank CEOs, however, have warned that the bull run is waning. Spooked by spiralling writeoffs, investors repeatedly asked bank chiefs about the region at a major industry conference in January. More than anything, they simply want to know what the hell is happening in the backyard of Canadian banking.

A long history in the Caribbean

Canada’s commercial ties to the Caribbean run deep. Starting in 1864, the group that founded Merchant’s Bank in Halifax financed trade with British-owned islands in the Antilles. Ships leaving Canada packed with timber and flour returned home with sugar, rum and cotton.

Scotiabank planted roots in the British West Indies, as they were then known, by opening a branch in Jamaica in 1889. RBC began its Caribbean foray even earlier, in 1882, and CIBC set up shop in Barbados and Jamaica in 1920. Canadians were so enamoured with the region that Prime Minister Robert Borden talked to his British counterpart, David Lloyd George, about taking over some islands in 1919 (or so legend has it).

For all that history, our banks are sometimes still chided for being from afar. “Everybody always talks about these ‘foreign banks,’” says Anya Schnoor, a Jamaican who runs Scotiabank Trinidad. “I always say to everybody: If you’ve been in a region 125 years, we’ve kind of gone beyond” that line of reasoning.

The Canadian banks used to face tough competition from the likes of Barclays and Citibank, but that started to change at the turn of the century. In 2001, CIBC combined its regional operations with Barclays’ to form FirstCaribbean International Bank; five years later, CIBC bought out Barclays’ remaining stake for just over $1 billion (U.S.). It was the largest deal of CEO Gerry McCaughey’s era.

While Scotiabank largely opted for organic growth, investing in its local wealth and insurance arms, RBC inked its own acquisition in 2007, buying back Trinidad’s RBTT Financial Group for $2.2 billion (U.S.). (RBC originally owned RBTT, but sold it to public shareholders in the late ’80s.)

Each of these investments seemed promising at the time. With tourism booming and energy prices soaring, economic growth was robust—between 2000 and 2007, Trinidad and Tobago’s averaged slightly over 8% annually. The region’s profit margins were also fat, particularly in lending.

By 2008, the three Canadian banks had $42 billion in assets across the English Caribbean—2.5% of their combined total assets, but more than four times those held by the 40-odd locally owned banks. With such a dominant footprint, RBC, Scotiabank and CIBC hardly had to spend to build brand awareness—they could milk money just by being there. In 2007 CIBC FirstCaribbean made $256 million (U.S.), contributing 7% of the bank’s total profit.

Then the financial crisis hit.

At first, the pain wasn’t too severe because Brits, Canadians and Americans didn’t cancel the vacations they had booked before the crash. But in 2010, Jamaica became the first to blink, turning to the International Monetary Fund for assistance. Almost four years later, Barbados did the same when its central bank nearly ran out of its precious foreign exchange reserves. The government is now in regular talks with the IMF, which recommends sweeping changes. This suggests that two of the region’s three traditional economic powerhouses can’t support themselves.

Scotiabank was the first financial institution to acknowledge the pain. As the lead lender to a developer that bought resorts on Cable Beach in the Bahamas, the bank suffered a $75-million hit on its $200-million loan in 2010. Through a complex restructuring, a Chinese bank stepped in to bail out the developer, ultimately financing a project comprising six hotels, a 100,000-square-foot casino, 200,000 square feet of convention facilities and an 18-hole golf course. A year later, CIBC wrote down its investment in FirstCaribbean by $203 million.

It was then largely quiet until January, 2014, when RBC shocked its peers with plans to sell its Jamaican operations to Sagicor, incurring a $100-million loss. The year since has been chock full of charges and pullbacks, including another $420-million writedown of FirstCaribbean’s goodwill; the closing of RBC’s Caribbean wealth management business; and scores of loan-loss provisions from all three lenders.

Today, more than half of CIBC’s total gross impaired loans—or loans that show any signs of trouble—originate in the Caribbean. At Scotiabank, the equivalent share is 35%. In other words, this tiny cluster of islands has the potential to generate bigger writeoffs than both banks’ monstrous Canadian lending portfolios. As for RBC, 11% of its Caribbean lending portfolio is impaired, versus just 0.33% of its equivalent Canadian business. Now we know why Caribbean loan margins were so fat: The outsized returns reflected higher risk. In finance, after all, there is no free lunch.

Escalating lending woes

What started as a corporate lending problem has morphed into a mortgage-market meltdown. Consumer credit is also suffering. Just before Christmas, RBC took another $50-million charge related to its Caribbean residential mortgage book, while CIBC has warned that further FirstCaribbean writedowns could come.

Before the crisis, foreigners piled into Barbados, buying up properties on the island’s west coast. The boom was so fierce that a luxury mall—Limegrove Lifestyle Centre—was built, attracting tenants such as Cartier and Louis Vuitton. Developments like the Port Ferdinand luxury marina, which can house 120 vessels up to 18 metres long each, also sprung up. Today, however, both are surrounded by properties with “For Sale” signs. The situation is eerily similar in the Bahamas, where it would take more than a decade to unload all the foreclosed properties at the average annual rate of home sales.

Much of this mess dates back to practices put in place years ago—in some cases, before the Canadian banks made their Caribbean acquisitions. “The credit adjudication of RBTT left a lot to be desired,” says Richard Young, the former head of Scotiabank Trinidad, who retired in 2012. “I used to compete with them, so I knew the type of stuff they were doing.” If, for example, a client had a good relationship with a branch manager, he or she could simply call up and get extra credit, regardless of their banking profile. “The customers loved it.”

FirstCaribbean, meanwhile, was happy to lend during a property boom. There was a belief in Barbados that real estate prices would go up by 10% a year. Believing the hype was bad enough, but once the bubble popped, CIBC was left holding bad loans tied to houses and land.

Although each bank now has its own restructuring plan, the common denominator is the need to lower costs. Since revenues aren’t growing, savings have to come from slashing expenses. That’s easier said than done. RBC, for example, operates in 18 countries and territories in the region. It is governed by 17 regulators and deals in eight currencies. Negotiating layoffs and centralizing back-office functions is a nightmare.

To make matters worse, the Caribbean is an inefficient market. In Trinidad, people joke about waiting years to receive a tax refund. Roads are so bad that getting around a capital like Port of Spain takes a major chunk out of the workday.

Such inefficiencies have crept into the banking sector. Mobile banking barely exists in the Caribbean. RBC’s branch—or banking hall, in local lingo—in Port of Spain’s Independence Square is one of the bank’s biggest in the world; it has to be, because West Indians would rather wait in line than pay electronically. The effect on costs is brutal. A recent study of Trinidadian banks found that total operating costs averaged about 6% of total assets; the figure in the European Union was just 2%.

Trinidad isn’t alone. Until Scotiabank opened a new branch in Montego Bay, Jamaica, last fall, the lineup at its existing branch demonstrated that Jamaicans will wait an hour or more to deposit a cheque.

Port of Spain. Kibwe Brathwaite

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The Canadian way of doing business is also at odds with Caribbean culture. Terrence Farrell is fluent in both worlds. A native Trinidadian who served as deputy governor of the country’s central bank, he completed his PhD at the University of Toronto. Many West Indians, he says, will claim “God is a Trini” or “God is a Bajan”—the slang names for Trinidadians and Barbadians. The meaning: “We are fortunate; things will always work out for the best.” In Farrell’s view, too many people think, “we don’t need to make any effort, we don’t need to plan, to harness our resources, to work hard.”

West Indians also have incredible national pride. Canadians may view the Caribbean as one coherent region, but each island likes to take digs at the other, and in many cases they really don’t trust one another. “Bajans operate on two speeds,” according to a Trinidadian saying. “Slow, and slower.”

A lack of economic diversity

Such cultural assumptions are, of course, debatable. But bank investors can’t ignore the hard facts of the Caribbean’s underlying economic woes; nor can they ignore a changing regulatory landscape.

For tourism, the Canadian, U.S. and U.K. economies finally look promising—maybe. “The truth is, you can get sun, sea and sand anywhere nowadays,” warns Pamela Coke Hamilton, an American-educated lawyer who heads the Caribbean Export Development Agency, based in Barbados. It kills her to say it, because she was raised in Jamaica, but the Caribbean is one of the most expensive sun destinations to visit, and a recent IMF study found the region’s share of global tourism is falling.

Another major problem, Coke Hamilton says, is that the islands mostly offer the same thing, so they simply take tourists from one another. Today the Cayman Islands is a hot destination, siphoning off high-end tourists from Barbados and Bahamas. A few years from now, Cuba could be the sexy spot—especially if U.S. developers pile in. Coke Hamilton argues that each country must develop a unique strategy. Health City Cayman Islands, for instance, opened in 2014, designed to lure North Americans looking to shorten surgery wait times, for a price.

On the regulatory front, a recent crackdown on tax evasion, particularly by U.S. lawmakers, has forced banks to abide by new rules. In 2010, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act became law, holding financial institutions to much tougher reporting standards for offshore assets. Barbados and the Cayman Islands had been well known as tax havens, giving Westerners good reason to do business and to own properties there. Globally, regulators are also getting tougher on money laundering—which is done, among other channels, through offshore accounts in the Caribbean—and that’s made banks think twice.

As for the energy market, prices aren’t expected to rebound any time soon—which means Trinidad is in trouble. In January, American and British energy explorers were still chatting over rum punches in Port of Spain’s hotel bars, but that could quickly change. The country’s lack of economic diversity has a price. “In Canada, you’ll have a hit in certain provinces, but [the country] can absorb it a little easier,” says Reshard Mohammed, chief financial officer of Scotiabank Trinidad. In his country, “a prolonged issue will be more problematic.”

Trinidad does have some substantial buffers—its unemployment rate is just 3.2% and its “A” sovereign debt rating is the highest in the Caribbean. But Farrell, who is a director at Trinidadian lender Republic Bank, warns that the government didn’t save much for a rainy day. Norway, he points out, started producing oil in the 1970s, and its sovereign wealth fund is now worth almost $900 billion (U.S.); Trinidad has been producing energy for 100 years, but its equivalent fund is worth just $5 billion. (Of course, Alberta’s isn’t much better, relatively speaking.)

What the future holds

Some banks are more willing to admit missteps than others. “It’s fair to say that there were some mistakes we made around leadership and the business model,” says Kirk Dudtschak, RBC’s head of Caribbean banking since 2013. When RBC bought RBTT, it had dreams of creating a pan-Caribbean bank, a strategy that entailed eliminating individual country heads in favour of a central command. It took five years before management realized they had lost the pulse of each island, and then reinstalled local leaders, starting in 2013.

While not as candid, Scotiabank has also discussed the region’s problems for some time—though chief executive Brian Porter, who once ran the lender’s international banking arm, joked at the January investor conference that no one cared until now. “The Caribbean has been under a fair degree of stress for seven years and I talked about it,” he told the audience, but “nobody really asked me any questions.”

Because there now are questions, the banks try to calm investors by stressing that the English-speaking Caribbean is on an upswing as tourism levels rebound somewhat. (Puerto Rico, by contrast, is in its eighth year of recession.) Given the region’s strong economic ties to the U.S., it also augurs well that the American economy is heating up.

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Banker Terrence Farrell says Trinidad should have used its strength in energy to save more for a rainy day. Kibwe Brathwaite

 

The banks can also point to their cost-cutting. Scotiabank is closing branches across the Caribbean; CIBC, which declined to comment for this story because it is working on restructuring plans, has talked about tightening its operation, which is currently spread across 17 islands; and RBC recently installed a Common Caribbean Operating Model to increase efficiency, instituting charges such as a small teller fee to wean customers off in-person banking. Under these initiatives, head counts are falling at all the banks. RBC’s Caribbean work force is less than 5,000, compared to 6,500 people two years ago. “Many parts of the region are in a deep or long-term recession,” Dudtschak says. “Everything we’re doing is about repositioning our business within the current economic environment…to ensure our business is sustainable for the long term.”

The elephant in the room is whether any lenders will cut and run altogether. RBC, after all, did it once before. The Canadian giant originally owned RBTT but sold it during the 1980s when Trinidad was hit by plunging energy prices.

For now, RBC and its peers tell anyone who asks that they have no plans to leave. They say they’ve been in the region for more than a century and remain deeply committed. After a while, however, their responses sound as rehearsed as an American politician being asked about presidential ambitions.

At this point, sources say the chances of a major sale are slim because buyers are hard to come by. Global banks such as HSBC and Citibank are shrinking their footprints. Private equity players may poke around from time to time, but they often get spooked once they start digging through financials, according to a source familiar with the Canadian banks’ operations. For instance, some islands don’t keep adequate digital records (or any digital records) of their housing appraisals, so anyone trying to assess the banks’ loan portfolios must bring in armies of people to dig through file folders.

Until buyers materialize with a reasonable offer, the most likely outcome is that the banks will continue to prune. But shrinking is expensive and arduous, involving wrestling with regulators, cancelling property leases and paying severance packages, among other things.

If Canada’s banks are lucky, the U.S. economy will keep gathering steam. If not, they should find solace knowing they’ve been here before, and it eventually got better. Trinidad reeled when oil prices crashed in the 1980s; Jamaica is in a perpetual relationship with the IMF; and Barbados has long been at the whim of tourist dollars.

However, those facts haven’t quelled speculation that one of the Canadian banks could pull the plug—especially when all three have new CEOs. CIBC is considered to have the highest flight risk. Former CEO McCaughey, who doubled down in the region, retired last year, as did former COO Richard Nesbitt, who oversaw the Caribbean operation. The region is now under the watch of retail banking head David Williamson, and he already has his hands full trying to turn around CIBC’s Canadian operation.

RBC is more of an enigma. The bank is taking its restructuring seriously; that could mean that it wants to run the division long-term, or, like someone who wants to sell a house, is renovating simply in hopes of fetching a better price.

Scotiabank, meanwhile, is considered the most likely to stay. It is, after all, Canada’s most international bank, and its Caribbean operation is widely regarded as the region’s most efficient. Besides, Scotiabank has endured much worse in countries such as Argentina and Venezuela; it remains profitable in the Caribbean. For all these reasons, the place, and its tilting fortunes, may well be woven into the bank’s DNA.

 

Gilbert Morris

11/16/14 1 PM

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. 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.

Gilbert Morris’s Take on the Flag Arrest and Trial

08/03/14 1 PM

(This note was posted by Dr. Gilbert Morris on his Facebook page.  We  agree with him.  Editor)

WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO ARREST PEOPLE FOR DESECRATING THE BAHAMIAN FLAG: In a free country, best viagra hospital people are free to express their outrage no matter how distasteful. Destruction of a flag in a democratic nation, cialis generic is protected by what the flag itself stands for. If – according to reports – those people of Haitian origins, who did roughness to the Bahamian flag, actually owned the flag, what is the concern of law enforcement if they chose to kiss it, wear it, wrap fish with it, burn it or drape it over one of our multitude of murder victims? That is their right. If they took the flag from Government House and mutilated it, then that would be “property destruction”; having nothing to do with the flag or its meaning. It is a screaming hypocrisy in a nation where we slaughter each other at a record pace that we should have time to arrest people for damaging a flag; the meaning which, if it were truly within us, should force us to govern ourselves according to the symbol for which the flag stands.