Tibbetts begins process to create utilities regulator

October 25th, 2016

The minister responsible for planning and public works began the process of dealing with a bundle of legislation in order to pave the way for the much-anticipated utilities commission.

The government hopes that this commission will not only act as the umbrella regulator for the technology, power, fuel and water sectors but also serve as a watchdog for consumer protection. The new commission had its genesis in broad public concerns, which were adopted by the government that the two bulk fuel suppliers in the Cayman Islands have not been transparent about their prices and that consumers are getting a bad deal. Now, the idea has broadened to create a new regulatory and competitive regime for all local utilities providers.

Planning, Lands, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure Minister Kurt Tibbetts, who has responsibility for all the utilities, presented three other bills alongside the Utilities Regulation and Competition Bill, which will begin the process. He stated that several more pieces of legislation regarding the water sector would be brought in January 2017.

Cayman on top of Offshore Merger deals again

October 21st, 2016

According to a report by a firm of international lawyers, Appleby, one third of all merger and acquisition deals in the offshore world in the first half of the year 2016 took place in the Cayman Islands.

Cayman retained its standing as the primary target of offshore transactions accounting for 40% of the value of that business. This was released by Appleby in its latest edition of Offshore-i, a report that analyses data on the activity in offshore financial centres.

While figures for the 1st 6 months of 2016 were down generally on what the lawyers said were “record-setting” figures in 2015 and both the number and value of offshore M&A deals fell, the Cayman Islands held on to the lion’s share of the deal volume and value.

Also, it was stated that the Cayman Islands was also home to 4 of the 10 biggest deals between the beginning of January and the end of June, including 3 in the technology sector, which enjoyed a particularly robust start to the year.

In the 1st 6 months of the year, the report claims, Cayman-incorporated companies were the target in 459 transactions worth a combined USD 41 billion. The value represented more than twice the amount of the next closest jurisdiction, the British Virgin Islands, while Hong Kong was second to Cayman in terms of deal volume with 263 transactions.

The largest deal targeting a Cayman company was the USD 4.5 billion investment in Cayman-incorporated software publisher Xiaoju Kuaizhi by a consortium including China Merchants Bank and other investors. Other significant technology deals in Cayman involved a USD 2 billion funding round for Cayman-incorporated Uber China and a USD 2 billion share buyback by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

While the 1st 6 months of the year 2016 saw a slowdown in completed IPOs across jurisdictions, a more positive story emerges when looking at future IPOs announced during this time period, the heavy majority of which involved a Cayman-registered company. Cayman was responsible for 102 of the 115 announced IPOs.

Despite the challenges faced by many offshore jurisdictions in the world at present, the offshore region is still ranked 6th in the world by deal volume and 4th for value activity. As the lawyers report stated, average deal size remains strong, and continuing from 2015, offshore still has the highest average deal size of any region worldwide.

Lawyers’ legislation delayed as small firms need time

October 19th, 2016

The minister of financial services has postponed the debate on the still controversial Legal Practitioners bill until the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly. This was because of a request by some small firms and sole practitioners as they want more time to submit suggestions that specifically impact their sector.

Wayne Panton was hoping to steer the legislation through during this current meeting after 15 years of wrangling. So, he said it was a risk to delay passage when the jurisdiction is to face the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review in 2017. However, he noted that if a short delay improves matters, he believed it was a risk worth taking to balance the interests of sole practitioners and the need for the law now.

Cayman captives boosted by non-traditional risk

September 22nd, 2016

According to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA), 2016 has been a very active year for new captive insurance formations, with 23 new licences granted over the 1st 6 months of the year. This number exceeded the issuance of licences in the whole of 2015.

Head of Insurance Supervision at CIMA, Ruwan Jayasekera, said that historically, November and December are the busiest months in terms of new captive formations, “and if the same applies to 2016, the year will be another phenomenal year for the jurisdiction in terms of new captive/(re)insurance company formations”.

He added: “CIMA is seeing a shifting trend in new captive/(re)insurance company formations, with more and more companies being formed to assume unrelated and non-traditional risks”. Changes made to the main insurance law, supporting regulations and the regulatory framework within the last five years to accommodate sophistication and innovation have had a positive impact on the insurance industry, with insurance groups, intermediaries and hedge-funds in particular choosing Cayman to house their (re)insurance subsidiaries.”

CIMA appoints temporary banking boss

September 14th, 2016

The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) has appointed Gloria Glidden as the acting head of itsbanking supervision division.

Glidden will take up the job on October 1 following the resignation of the current boss, Charles Ilako, who leaves at the end of this month. Glidden has held the deputy post since March 2014 but will now take over the oversight of international and commercial banks and trusts, the development bank, as well as money services businesses, building societies and cooperative societies here.

Although Glidden’s new role is as acting head and therefore temporary, CIMA is pleased to be able to fill the key position through promotion from within the authority.

Glidden is a Certified Public Accountant with 18 years post-qualification experience in finance and accounting spanning various industries such as auditing, utilities, telecommunications and financial services, with five and a half years in hedge fund administration.

Financial Ministry brings key bills ahead of CFATF review

September 12th, 2016

The financial services minister will be presenting another 4 bills at the forthcoming meeting of the Legislative Assembly in order to ensure Cayman successfully clears next year’s Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s (CFATF) mutual evaluation process and improve the financial sector’s regulatory framework. The 4 legislative pieces are intended to maintain Cayman’s adherence to international standards and will give greater powers for law enforcement and regulatory agencies to police the sector and cooperate with international counterparts.

The draft bills will be debated in October. They provide greater clarity about the type of businesses that have a responsibility to adhere to the international standards.

The bills are as follows:
• the Monetary Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2016;
• the Auditors Oversight (Amendment) Bill, 2016;
• the Companies Management (Amendment) Bill, 2016;
• the Non-Profit Organisations Bill, 2016.

The Monetary Authority bill will allow the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) to implement an administrative fines regime as a mechanism to ensure the industry’s compliance with laws and regulations that support the jurisdiction’s anti-money laundering regime and international standards.

Cayman-Registered Firms number exceeds 100,000

August 20th, 2016

The number of active companies on the Cayman Islands company register has exceeded 100,000 for the first time. Currently, there are more than 19,000 active partnerships in the jurisdiction.

According to figures from the Cayman Islands General Registry, at the end of the 2nd quarter, 101,430 companies were listed as active, which is 3% more than a year earlier and 2.6% more than at the end of 2015.

New Cayman-registered partnerships increased by 1% in the 12 months to June compared to the same period last year. A total of 3,334 new partnerships were incorporated during 2015, continuing the trend of uninterrupted annual growth since 2009/10.

As of July 1, 2016, 923 new partnerships were registered, significantly exceeding the 588 partnership terminations. The net result is that there are now more than 19,000 active partnerships set up in the jurisdiction.

The newly-introduced limited liability company (LLC) form attracted 21 registrations in the 1st month, while the number of trusts on the register dropped by 1% to 1,784 in the 1st 2 quarters of this year. This continues a trend of small declines since 2014, according to Cayman Finance, the island’s financial services promotional agency.

Jude Scott of Cayman Finance commented: “It’s always great to see growth in Cayman’s financial services industry and this is a significant milestone of which we should all be proud. Milestones such as this are further evidence of the global financial services industry’s recognition of Cayman’s transparency and robust regulatory regime.”

GMO mosquitoes released in Cayman Islands

July 29th, 2016

The first wave of genetically modified mosquitoes were released on June 27 in the Cayman Islands. This is part of a new effort aimed at controlling the insect that spreads Zika and other viruses.

Genetically altered male mosquitoes do not bite but mate with females to produce offspring that die before reaching adulthood. According to a joint statement from the Cayman Islands Mosquito Research and Control Unit and British biotech firm Oxitec, they were released in the West Bay area of Grand Cayman Island. The mosquitoes will be released over 9 months in an area known to be a hot spot for the Aedes aegypti species, which are not native to the Cayman Islands and are the main vector for Zika as well as other viruses, including chikingunya and dengue.

Scheduled in June, the project was released with a delay in getting an occupancy permit for the lab in which mosquitoes are bred and because of a court challenge from opponents who argued that the government had not provided sufficient information about potential risks or adequately studied other alternatives. On June 26, a judge ruled that the effort could proceed.

Canadian banks ordered to disclose Cayman dealings

July 27th, 2016

Two Canadian banks have been ordered by a Federal Court judge to disclose their dealings with a financial institution in the tax haven of Cayman Islands. So, the Trudeau government has won a round in its battle against offshore tax dealings.

It is the second time the government of Canada has sought a court order to investigate offshore tax evasion since the Star, in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, made the Panama Papers leak public in April 2016. According to experts, the recent activity is evidence of a new-found will to crack down on the wealthy who hide their money offshore.

Royal Bank of Canada and Citibank, N.A. have been given 120 days to hand over all transaction information for accounts held by Cayman National Bank Ltd. between 2009 and 2015. They will have to provide the Canada Revenue Agency with account statements, deposit slips, cheques, bank drafts and wire transfer orders, all of which will help CRA auditors determine whether Canadian residents used these banks to transfer money home without reporting it.

Neither bank opposed the federal government’s court application.

Greenlight Capital Re to release 2nd Quarter 2016 Results

July 23rd, 2016

Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd. (GLRE), a specialist property and casualty reinsurer based in the Cayman Islands and Ireland, announced that it expects to release financial results for the 2nd quarter ended June 30, 2016 after the market closes on Monday, August 1, 2016.

A live conference call to discuss the financial results will be held on August 2, 2016. Hosting the call and available during the question-and-answer session will be David Einhorn, Chairman of the Board of Directors; Bart Hedges, Chief Executive Officer and Tim Courtis, Chief Financial Officer.

Greenlight Re is a NASDAQ listed company with specialist property and casualty reinsurance companies based in the Cayman Islands and Ireland. Established in 2004, the company provides a variety of custom-tailored reinsurance solutions to the insurance, risk retention group, captive and financial marketplaces.