Feb 09 2011

Captain Underpants and the denizens of offshore

Posted by: Nick Shaxson in: Thoughts

I just had an email from someone who knows the Caymans very well, after I’d mentioned the “imbecile” comment that came from Anthony Travers in George Town when Treasure Islands was published. He pointed to an earlier press release from Caymans Finance – yes, the official voice of the financial services industry there – which he described like this:

“Cayman Finance issued one press release recently in which someone was referred to as ‘Captain Underpants’ (apparently for no other reason that he is gay and has issued critical comments). The level of juvenility astonished me. I wouldn’t talk like that in private, let alone put it in a press release on behalf of an industry that is trying to promote itself as sophisticated and professional. . . . you will find one personal insult after another aimed at a variety of people. It is amazing to me that any member of Cayman Finance thinks that such an approach is in any way effective.

Well indeed. The press release is here, if you must look. There are a series of arguments in there which deserve a thorough dissection and rebuttal, but right now I don’t have time. The best I can do for the time being is to point to the press release, then point to my “arguments” page for the counter-arguments. More in due course.

Update: two hours later. I am intrigued to see this.

Travers steps down as Cayman Finance Chairman

“I was asked to take on the role at a time when our public relations were at a low ebb,” says Travers. “At the time the UK and US Governments were extremely hostile to the Cayman Islands and our financial system and the Cayman Islands were on the OECD Grey List, we were threatened by hostile US legislation and were subject to unjustified criticism from the UK and the EU. I have been pleased to lead the organisation and feel we have done a great deal over the last two years to counter our many critics and establish the truth about the Cayman Islands and the value it brings to international financial transactions and the global economy. Needless to say I wish Cayman Finance and the new chairman well in its continuing endeavours.”

I am not sure that Travers’ words chime very comfortably with what’s written at the top of this blog.

3 comments so far

John Mackenzie 2th February, 2011 10.59 am

Dear Nick

I enjoyed your book but I think you are suffering from a humour bybass. Travers didn’t coin the phrase “Captain Underpants.” That was the British tabloid press who used it repeatedly as did many politicians of my acquaintance. Travers clearly had his tongue in his cheek. (That’s Travers’ cheek just to clear up any ambiguities)



Nick Shaxson 2th February, 2011 11.28 am

Thanks for that cheeky observation. So he didn’t coin this phrase. OK, this may have been the case – but is it really appropriate for the official voice of the Cayman Islands Financial Services industry to be repeating this stuff? And that email, from someone who’s observed the place for years, actually relates to a historical pattern. Anyway, thanks for the heads up.

[…] must admit, his departure came just a few hours after I published this blog, highlighting a comment from a correspondent who called the output of Cayman finance […]

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