Inequality, Cayman style

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This story comes from this week's Offshore Wrapper from the Tax Justice Network (which I recommend):

And now for an everyday story about the power of financial services in small islands.

Ernst and Young, KPMG, Maples FS and Butterfield Bank have applied for an injunction to prevent the Cayman Compass newspaper and a local blog from reporting the wages of foreign workers in the Cayman Islands.

The news organisations obtained anonymised data on the pay and job positions of foreign workers from work permit applications though a Freedom of Information request to the immigration department.

The issue is important in a jurisdiction where there are stark differences in wealth between low paid locals and the vast amounts paid to people, often from abroad, who work in the island’s tax haven industry.

In fact, recently it was estimated that if the Cayman Islands brought in a minimum wage it might affect one third of workers.

The finance sector companies who are bringing the challenge against the decision to release the data fear that it might lead to individuals becoming identified. This, they argue, is a breach of privacy.

Another example of how the powerful are increasingly using privacy laws to prevent public interest information coming to light. This is a worrying trend and a case to watch.