Cayman responds to our FSI with fury at our 'modest houses'
It's worth taking a quick look at Cayman's response to the FSI.
It is important to note from the outset that this peculiar outburst - nearly as bizarre as some of Cayman's earlier outbursts - did not even respond to the evidence of Cayman's secrecy - but instead engaged in three other main areas.
First, they railed against high taxes, claiming TJN to be "high-tax zealots." (We are not high-tax zealots: our core principles are founded on an idea that distortions in tax systems -- created by, among others, tax havens -- are a bad thing.) OK, one can have endless argument about tax rates, but the Financial Secrecy Index is about secrecy, not tax.
Their second angle was that - as with all the other tax havens - they have been 'white listed' by the OECD and others, and that therefore we must be wrong. What they did not point out was our analysis that these white lists are not worth the paper they are printed on. The evidence in support of this position is overwhelming, and the deeply researched Financial Secrecy Index underlines it.
Their third angle of attack was the same old tax haven tactic we have seen year after year: if you can't deal with the arguments and the message, then attack the messenger. And here they went off the rails completely. Look at this.
"There are a few facts that your readers should appreciate about this rather grand sounding organization,” Irvine told CNS. “In fact it is a tiny little outfit run out of Richard’s Murphy’s modest house in the English countryside. Nobody in the financial world takes Mr Murphy seriously. He is an advocate of punitive taxation and he would like all countries to have a common tax system. This is not a man who appreciates individuality when it comes to governments.”This is laughable on so many levels. First, it is not a crime or even a misdemeanour to have a modest house, as Murphy himself notes with his usual caustic humour. Second, it is nonsense to say that "he would like all countries to have a common tax system." Third, Murphy, for all his valuable input, does not run TJN. He is a senior adviser to TJN, and an influential one, but if anybody 'runs' the Tax Justice Network it is John Christensen, its director and founder.
And this leads on to a fourth point, and a little story. It concerns Jack Irvine, media adviser to Cayman Finance. A rather right-wing figure who has been described as a "Rottweiler of Glasgow Journalism", Irvine has apparently been known to rail against gay men as "slobbering queers" and has a record of publicly defending questionable characters but was nevertheless retained by Cayman in to burnish its image. In 2009 Irvine engaged in a dedicated effort to attack TJN's reputation, in which he contacted people and highlighted (among other things) the picture on page four of this document.
It is a picture of the TJN International Secretariat headquarters, with a caption:
"The Power of Ideas: the TJN International Secretariat Headquarters."Now we think that Irvine, in this latest bizarre Cayman outburst about "Richard Murphy's modest house," may have been thinking of this picture. The trouble with this picture is that this building is nowhere near Richard Murphy's house. (Or perhaps they have been stalking Murphy's modest house, which would perhaps be even more peculiar.)
Now back to the caption under that photo, and The Power of Ideas. We don't have a lot of money, but we do have ideas.
In the Cayman Islands, it seems to be the other way around.