CAYMANS ISLANDS, Feb 10 – A trade delegation from Caymans islands, the tiny islands in the Caribbean that is home to some of the largest and most sophisticated financial services in the world will be visiting Kenya to explore investment opportunities in coming months.
Contrary to the perception that Caymans was a tax haven associated with negative financial activities such as money laundering , a visit by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka revealed that the islands country has transformed dramatically since the heady days of the sixties , seventies and eighties when money barons from across the globe would walk in and set up shops, hiding billions of dollars without questions being asked.
Today the country of 60,000 people with a per capita income of $4,200 has a string of rules and regulations to be adhered to before investing money there.
They have an anti-corruption commission and anti-money laundering legislation in place in addition to the Caymans being a member of the OECD, the global economic crime and anti drugs trafficking watchdog.
“We had to reform and play by the straight and narrow if we were to compete with New York , London, Mauritius or Tokyo as the financial services hub of choice globally and that includes playing by the rules,” the Caymans Islands Stock exchange CEO Valia Theodoraki said.
The exchange has a capitalisation of $160billion.
In meetings with the British-appointed Governor Dancan Taylor, the VP expressed Kenya’s desire to learn from the Caymans Islands.
This includes the secrets behind its success story in the advanced financial solutions it has to offer in the management of hedge, mutual funds and other investment vehicles in order to help Kenya drive her financial service sector.
The president of the Caymans Chamber of Commerce and Industry Stuart Bostock, promised to mobilise a team of business people for an exploratory visit to Kenya saying members of his association already have investments in Brazil, Panama, the United states and United Kingdom among others .
The Caymans has about 300 banks with most of the famous banks of America and Europe having branches here. They Include Bank of Scotland, Deutchsebank , bank of America ,Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Gold man Sachs.
While addressing a reception in honour of the Kenyan VP, the Cayman Prime Minister Bush Mackeeva said his country which adapted a new constitution last year giving it greater autonomy from the Britain will continue to diversify its economy into tourism and shipping service provision as well as improving its financial services in order to remain competitive He pledged to promote trade and skills transfer between Kenya and Caymans Islands.
The VP met and addressed 100 Kenyans living and working in the Caymans Islands mostly accountants and urged them to continuously improve their skills.
Mr Musyoka also lauded the Caymans Islands for the introduction of a strict code of conduct in the civil service that see public servants breaking the public standards regulations or see the denied pay for not meeting performance contracts targets.
He added that Kenya may need to emulate the same the VP also visited the legislative a Assembly headed by the Speaker Mary Lawrence and the country’s prison facilities. The women’s prison has only 15 inmates while the facilities include a gym, a computer room and combatable beds.