Tax havens bending to the will of soft law : a case study of the Cayman Islands' response to the OECD and FATF blacklists

Date
2013-05
Authors
Driscoll, Matthew Brian
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Abstract

In 2000, two international organizations—the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organization for Economic Development (OECD)—attempted to attack the problems of money laundering and tax evasion through coercive soft law. Both organizations attempted to induce state compliance with international standards by placing noncompliant states on publicly available blacklists. The FATF blacklist, Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories, documented states that failed to implement international anti-money laundering standards and the OECD blacklist, Uncooperative Tax Havens, documented states that failed to implement international tax information-sharing agreements. This report examines the Cayman Islands’ quick compliance with these two international efforts. The report hypothesizes that the Cayman Islands’ complied quickly with both the FATF and OECD initiatives because the Cayman Islands’ had a strong financial institutional capacity and a high level of reputational risk from not complying. The report develops a methodology for testing this theory against other jurisdictions placed on both of the original FATF and OECD blacklists. The testing reveals that while financial institutional capacity and reputational risk may have contributed to the Cayman Islands’ and other states’ compliance with the FATF and OECD initiatives, these factors were not determinative. The report concludes that better metrics for state institutional capacity and reputational risk are needed to accurately measure states’ compliance with the FATF and OECD regimes.

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