Caribbean Business And Finance Report

Robert-T-Brockman-charged
Robert T. Brockman, 79, is accused of using a family charitable trust based in Bermuda and other offshore entities to hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service while failing to pay taxes.
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Compiled By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 23, 2020: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.

Regional

A Houston software tycoon has been charged with using a web of Caribbean entities to hide $2 billion in income in what prosecutors called the largest U.S. tax case ever against an individual.

Robert T. Brockman, 79, is accused of using a family charitable trust based in Bermuda and other offshore entities to hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service while failing to pay taxes, according to a 39-count indictment unsealed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco.

Brockman was also charged with money laundering and other crimes. Prosecutors received help from Robert Smith, the CEO of Vista Equity Partners, who set up his private equity fund two decades ago with a $1 billion investment from Brockman’s trust structure. Brockman earned about $2 billion in capital gains made through his Vista investments, according to the indictment.

“The allegation of a $2 billion tax fraud is the largest-ever tax charge against an individual in the United States,” David Anderson, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco, said at a news conference.

The indictment charges Brockman with crimes including money laundering, evidence tampering and destruction of evidence. He’s also charged with wire fraud for using intermediaries to manipulate debt securities at his company. Brockman used code names and encrypted emails to secretly manage the trusts, according to the indictment.

Brockman also “engaged in multiple instances of obstructive conduct,” including directing an associate to destroy documents and electronic media using shredders and hammers, according to the indictment.

Brockman appeared by video conference in federal court in Houston, where he pleaded not guilty. He was released on a $1 million bond.

OIL SPILL

A state of environmental emergency is being called for by fishermen in Trinidad and Tobago over a sinking oil tanker with 1.3 million barrels of oil. If the oil spills, it would threaten the entire Southern Caribbean. At 264 meters in length and a capacity of 1.4 million barrels, the spill would be five times worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989, which was the worst in history until the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon.

Officials have been criticized for allowing the situation to evolve for three months without taking sufficient action. The Nabarima is a Venezuelan oil tanker but part-operated by Italian energy giant, $55 billion ENI, and has been caught up in US sanctions since disputed elections questioned the legitimacy of the Venezuelan President. The tilting had been of concern since it was first noticed in July and crews later discovered water leaking on board. The situation has gotten progressively worse since then.

CARICOM

Meanwhile, CARICOM countries this week were divided on the issue of “free and fair” elections in Venezuela.

The Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, and St. Lucia all voted in favour of the resolution tabled at the 50th General assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) which indicated that there has been a lack of minimum democratic conditions to guarantee free, fair and transparent elections in Venezuela. But Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines voted against the resolution, while Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Grenada, St. Kitts-Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago abstained.

The resolution was approved after 21 countries voted in favour, four voted against and nine abstained..

The resolution had been cosponsored by the delegations of Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Guyana

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) – a world-renowned financial institution – has projected that Guyana’s economy will grow by a significant 26.2 per cent in spite of the devastating effects COVID-19 is having on economies worldwide.

The World Economic Outlook (WEO) report, which is published by the IMF and has been released this month, showed that Guyana is the only country in the Caribbean and Latin American region projected to have real positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

This growth is pegged at 26.2 per cent for 2020 – a considerable difference when compared to other territories in the region. Moreover, Guyana’s economy is projected to grow by 8.1 per cent in 2021.

Growth for Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Barbados will be negative, the IMF said, with T&T at -5.6 percent; Suriname at -13.1 percent and Barbados at -11.6 percent.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands government has become the latest Caribbean country to offer long-term remote work options for international employees and their families.

While the borders to the Cayman Islands remain closed to commercial airlift and cruise traffic at this time, the Cayman Islands has announced the launch of the Global Citizen Concierge Program (GCCP), an initiative designed for digital nomads looking to take advantage of the flexibility provided by remote work.

Eligible professionals and families can upgrade their home offices by choosing to live and work remotely in the Cayman Islands for up to two years through a Global Citizen Certificate.

 Travelers interested in obtaining the Global Citizen Certificate are invited to apply online here. Applicants must provide a letter showing proof of employment with an entity outside of the Cayman Islands, stating position and annual salary. Minimum salary requirements are: US$100,000 for single households; US$150,000 for two person households and US$180,000 for a family with children.

Fees range from US$1,469 per annum per individual to US$500 per dependent, per annum.

Jamaica

Jamaica is looking to boost its mango exportation.

The country’sMinister of Agriculture, Floyd Green, recently announced plans to establish several mango orchards on the island to take advantage of the high demand in the US for Jamaican mangoes. According to Green, the project will be undertaken in partnership with private investors.

Green revealed that so far, 100,000 pounds of mangoes have been sold in the US since the beginning of 2020, with one importer suggesting that over 10 times that amount could be sold.

The initial effort will place 60 acres in Clarendon into mango production beginning in 2021, with plans to use the public-private partnership model to expand to 1,000 acres in mango production to meet market demand.  Green said that the government believes planting the trees is an inexpensive way to ensure an abundance of locally grown fruit.