Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Real Secret of Cayman Islands? They're Not That Glamorous

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Real Secret of Cayman Islands? They're Not That Glamorous

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon English

IN A fit of pique 10 years ago, I ditched my tedious job at some newspaper or other and headed for the Cayman Islands in search of adventure, danger and intrigue. There wasn't any.

The fuss over the Paradise Papers has again placed the nation in the public eye, although the impression produced is shy of the reality.

Perhaps the words Grand Cayman conjure an image of glamour and excess. Of scheming bankers, cutting fiendish deals on yachts, surrounded by the most fantastically good looking people on earth. Of James Bond-alike liaisons, with guns, fast cars and passports spread over hotel beds. Sadly, no.

Many of the 13.4 million Paradise files hacked from law firm Appleby referenced Cayman. The revelation that caught the most attention was that the Queen's private estate invested nearly PS6 million in a fund held on the islands.

Perhaps I'm jaded, but I can't get much past this: so what? Grand Cayman is a tax haven it prefers the term tax neutral but you can hardly blame it for that. It's far from obvious what else it would do to make a living, aside from tourism.

It has some great diving. Some good golfing. A nice beach. Five or six really good restaurants. If you rocked up to the right cocktail bar on Friday evening, you could see the prime minister enjoying a game of dominoes. Buy him a drink, you could join in. And that's about it.

It offers a nice life to the accountants who come from the UK and the US to work. And the financial services industry gives Caymanians a better income than they might otherwise have, though very few are anything close to rich. They don't pay income tax, but everything else is really expensive.

The most common word used to describe Cayman, alongside tax haven, is "secretive".

The locals are certainly shy of criticism, and the authorities perhaps don't engage as well as they might to explain their position. It's an insular place that doesn't encourage sarcasm; just writing this piece makes me feel disloyal, and my ties to the place are minimal to say the least. But the charge of secrecy doesn't really stack up.

A Newsweek piece last year on the top 10 tax havens had Cayman in the first five, but behind Switzerland, Hong Kong, the US and Singapore. …

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