The Guardian has reported the new Cayman double tax treaty, saying:
[The UK has] signed an agreement with .. the Cayman Islands, to enable the Treasury to demand information from the tax haven.
Critics of the government's attempts to rein in tax havens said the Caymans agreement failed in its central purpose and set a precedent that other low-tax countries would want to follow.
The agreement with Cayman Islands is one of 113 double-taxation agreements that the UK has in force. The new one allows for an exchange of information about tax between the Cayman Islands and the UK. Timms said it included "unprecedented" provisions for exchanging information.
An upcoming code of practice for banks is expected to crack down on the use of tax havens by major banking groups. Timms said the code – originally slated for the budget – would be published "shortly".
The Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, Lord Oakeshott, said: "There is nothing in this feeble treaty that means any person or company is going to pay more tax. The Caymans is a zero-tax nation and this agreement isn't going to change that. For Gordon Brown to trumpet his clampdown at the G20 and then sign bits of worthless paper is a disgrace."
Timms insisted this was not the case. "The game is up. People are realising that if they want to be part of the global economy they have to be willing to exchange information on tax."
I made my position clear on this yesterday and the Guardian quoted me in another part of the article referred to.
But I’m now wondering if Timms knows something that I don’t: that a DTA was needed with Cayman because of the massive use of it by UK banks, and that this dovetails with the Banking Code, on which I know work is continuing apace, but which i have not as yet seen. That’s my best hope. Otherwise I stick with Matthew Oakeshott’s opinion.