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Caribbean investors eye Kenya

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 .

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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.

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