CEO Insight Interview with Tamatoa Jonassen, CEO, Cook Islands FSDA

Written by Henry Martin . Posted in Finance

CEO Insight: The Cook Islands was adjudged to be “largely compliant” following the OECD’s March 2015 Phase 2 Peer Review Report. What steps have subsequently been taken to address any highlighted outstanding issues?

Tamatoa Jonassen: Given the details of the Phase 2 Peer Review assessment of the Cook Islands’ ability to exchange information for tax purposes, the Cook Islands’ rating of “largely compliant” was actually very positive. The assessment focused on ten elements, including maintaining ownership information, accounting records, and powers to request information, and it resulted in the Cook Islands receiving the highest rating of “compliant” in eight of the ten elements. The remaining two elements were easily fixable.

One element in the Phase 2 Peer Review was assessed lower because the Cook Islands received a relatively low number of exchange of information requests. Since the number of requests should increase over time, this element is expected to be re-assessed as “compliant.” Furthermore, since the assessment was conducted, the Cook Islands has entered into two additional Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs), with Canada and Belgium, bringing the number of Cook Islands TIEAs with other countries to 21. In context, the Cook Islands has more TIEAs than any other Pacific island nation and has more TIEAs signed with European Union member countries than approximately 80% of other countries with TIEAs signed with members of the EU. The second element that was assessed lower was effectively a recommendation to monitor the operation of several legislative amendments then newly introduced in 2013 following the Phase 1 Peer Review process. These 2013 amendments mandated that accounting records and underlying documentation be maintained and subject to penalty.

Small Islands, Big Ideals

Written by Henry Martin . Posted in Finance

Small Island states that have adapted and prospered in the face of adversity

Cook Islands
The concerted international drive towards greater tax transparency and the combating of tax evasion continues unabated. As part of a changing international regulatory landscape, various instruments and devices have been introduced to enhance tax cooperation. These are especially aimed at smaller jurisdictions that have made international financial services a mainstay of their economy, as part of a diversification strategy away from agriculture and to complement tourism. Perhaps the central tenet of this global tax reform process is the automatic exchange of information.

While some jurisdictions still have much to do to get their houses in order, others have embraced and shown commitment to these prevailing winds of the day as part of a drive to secure international regulatory, political and moral acceptance for their legitimate and force for good international financial services activities. Select small island IFCs have proactively gone over and above the call of duty, such that they ironically outperform across numerous indices many of those very countries seeking to make examples of them. The Cook Islands in the South Pacific is one such place. Belying its small size and remoteness and in stark contrast to the malign narrative ranged against it and others like it by those powerful political interests looking for a tax evasion scapegoat, its efforts on the compliance front are noteworthy.

The Flexible Approach

Written by Elias Moussa. Posted in Finance

 Interview with the two heads of Elite Capital & Co.

( right) Dr. Faisal Khazaal, PhD. LLD. KGCC and Mr. George Matharu, MBA

“Sustainable Mega Finance Provider 2017 Award”

Elite Capital & Co. Limited (“ECC”) provides turnkey solutions for Government Infrastructure Projects, such as Roads, Bridges, Sea Ports, Power Plants, etc. These projects will typically be implemented in developing countries.

The “turnkey solution” means that ECC provides a world class EPC Contractor to perform the work, and provides the finance to complete the project against  some form of payment guarantee issued by the respective country.

Strategic Thinking

Written by Patricia Cullen. Posted in Finance

We Interview John Rutherford, CEO at Invest Turks and Caicos.

CEO Inisght: How would you summarise Invest Turks and Caicos’ raison d’être, its ambitions, and the road map to realising these goals?

John Rutherford: Invest Turks and Caicos was created in 2015 to act as the lead organisation for attracting and facilitating foreign investment to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI); to support the growth of local business; and to manage the country’s Investor Permanent Residency programme. Internationally, we promote the islands in target markets to companies in industry sectors who we believe can secure a strong return on investment by having a presence here; and bring benefits to the islands through economic activity and job creation.

The Turks and Caicos Islands – Beautiful by Nature

Written by Henry Martin. Posted in Finance

The Turks and Caicos Islands (the TCI), a British Overseas Territory located in the Caribbean, southeast of the Bahamas, has managed to achieve and sustain a high-end low impact, accessible, secure, tranquil, luxury tourism offer through a focus on managing growth sustainably. In part, this is thanks to policy and regulation which has worked to limit the height of buildings, preserve the unique and delicate ecosystems, and ensure that Belongers benefit from FDI. 

Recent years have seen an impressive growth in tourist numbers visiting the islands, such that the international airport has been redeveloped to accommodate this increase. Yet, the focus has remained on targeting the high-end, high-spending demographic to ensure the TCI remains free from the ravages that can be wrought by a mass market tourism proposition, a path many Caribbean nations have taken in the past and lived to regret, as they see before them a devastated natural environment and seafronts peppered with monstrous carbuncles. 

Cross Border Investments

Written by Henry Martin. Posted in Finance

Interview with Harvesh Seegolam -Chief Executive FSPA

CEO Insight: What informs the move to transition Mauritius into a front-office focused IFC, to what extent has this ambition been realised to date?

Mauritius has over 2 decades of experience as a centre facilitating cross border investments in key regional markets. Our focus is to further build on this experience and move towards high-value added activities in our financial sector, thus graduating Mauritius into a front-office focused International Financial Centre (IFC).

This is also reflected in the new segments of activities that are being encouraged in our IFC through the introduction of a whole new suite of bespoke financial products targeting multinational corporations and global firms, international insurance operators, private banks, investment banks, fund and asset managers, international law firms, FINTECH companies, market makers and High Net Worth Individuals.

The South Pacific Bridge to Financial Security

Written by Tamatoa Jonassen. Posted in Finance


Known for its innovative international trusts, the Cook Islands is ideal for wealth and succession planning for sophisticated high net-worth individuals seeking financial security.

When experienced offshore wealth planners look for a jurisdiction to establish wealth planning structures that will secure their client’s assets, they look at the Cook Islands. Given its location, background, and legislation, it is not surprising that the Cook Islands is on the list of top recommended jurisdictions for effective wealth planning.

Although by some standards the Cook Islands is considered remote, located 2,854 miles South of Hawaii and 3,232 miles to the north-east of New Zealand, being physically remote but digitally accessible is an advantage in wealth protection regimes. Approximately halfway between Hong Kong and New York, but on the opposite side of the globe from London, the Cook Islands offers an attractive time zone to bridge Asia and the Americas.

International Finance Centres: A Force for Good

Written by Henry Martin. Posted in Finance

CEO Insight sets the record straight as to the inherent force for good credentials of International Finance Centres, and showcases those jurisdictions with the best propositions.

Investments and vehicles emanating from International Finance Centres (IFCs), particularly small island IFCs, continue to play an essential role in any managed wealth portfolio; a role that is about much more than simply offering tax mitigation opportunities. Despite being subjected in recent years to unprecedented scrutiny and increased compliance criteria, given the precarious state of the global economy and subsequent prevailing regulatory winds of the day, as G8 politicians seek out scapegoats in their lust for votes, it is no exaggeration to say that these jurisdictions continue to play a pivotal role in the ongoing renaissance of the global economy, not least since they act as essential conduits for FDI elsewhere.

Blockchain and the Network

Written by Patricia Cullen. Posted in Finance

 A lot of people in the global tech community are getting very excited about something called “the blockchain”, and see it as the real power behind the Bitcoin throne. If you don't know what it is, you're not alone, but know that its applications are predicted to be many and profound. In short, the blockchain is an ever-growing decentralised and permission-less public database ledger of each and every bitcoin transaction conducted since its inception. With each computer, or “node” connected to the bitcoin network having a copy of the blockchain, it serves as permanent proof of what's gone before it, detailing addresses and values.

The Not So Gold Vicenza

Written by Patricia Cullen. Posted in Finance

From the Alps to the Adriatic Sea, small family-run businesses, mid-sized companies and the most cutting-edge international players choose the Veneto region in Italy to set up base. With superb art, food and style, Vicenza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a city in the productive heartland of the North East, ranking third among the Italian provinces in terms of export. Though there are only approximately 120,000 residents in Vicenza, it is one of Italy's wealthiest cities after Turin and Milan, and the local economy has gained significant market share both in Italy and abroad. Formerly overlooked in favour of nearby Venice, Vicenza boasts a turnover of €90 billion, a volume of exports of almost €15 billion and is a worthy destination in its own right. This may all seem picture perfect but all is not what it seems as there are real fears that events in Italy may trigger a broader financial crisis.

Last month’s vote for Brexit has brought about a fresh outbreak of apprehension about the European monetary system and Italy may be the next European country to endure an economic crisis. Italian banks are now thought to hold €360bn of non-performing loans and Vicenza is at the epicentre of the Italian banking crisis which could cost citizens hundreds of millions of euros. Vicenza's local bank, Banca Popolare di Vicenza (BPV) one of the banks helped out by the Atalante fund that was fashioned to stop mid-size banks from crumpling, failed in an attempt to raise capital through an IPO earlier this year, culminating in a drop in share prices.


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