DH | Rift in Curacao financial sector

Meespierson Intertrust, KPMG, Citco, Fortis Trust and Fortis Bank and United Trust to continue as the International Financial Group (IFG)

WILLEMSTAD–On the initiative of the companies that got out of Cifa (Curaçao International Financial Services Association) last year, a new association for the international financial services sector in Curaçao will be set up this week.

Secretary of state Alex Rosaria (PNP) of Fiscal Affairs doesn’t think that a “Cifa-II” is a good idea. After what the Amigoe newspaper called a “palace revolution” in November of 2005, whereby a new executive committee took over Cifa, the discord did not go away.

Citco Group, KPMG and Intertrust Fortis, whose representatives had up to then formed the committee, withdrew. Despite several attempts, the new executive committee, headed by Chairman Herman Behr (HBM Group) and Vice-chairman Steve Vanenburg (PwC), has not managed to mend the break. And now, effective Monday, Curaçao will have a second association.

Secretary of state Alex Rosaria regrets this development and said that this is not in the interest of the sector; something that one of the initiators of the new association also agrees with, he said.

“This is not good for the image; locally and internationally. There is enough fragmentation on the island already and the business world is right in pointing out to us that politicians are often too divided and quarrel too much. This is definitely not necessary and I advice them against it.”

When asked if both parties were willing to do this and they accept him, Rosaria said he would mediate. The name of the new association will be announced this week. It has the following members: Citco, KPMG, possibly Fortis Trust and Fortis Bank (Fortis Mutual Funds has always remained a member of Cifa) and the new trust The United Trust Company of Gregory Elias, who managed Intertrust Fortis till January 1.

The same persons who ran Cifa till November of 2005 will perhaps be on the committee, such as Ralph Palm (KPMG) and Edsel Doran (Citco). Cifa has approximately 110 members, including Ennia, Fatum, and Banco di Caribe, which joined recently. Cifa said it represents 60 per cent of the sector. The members of Cifa are companies in the international sector: trust companies, tax consultants, lawyers, notaries, accountants and banks. Cifa was called “Vereniging Offshore Belangen” (VOB) before.

Cifa has significantly more members, but the new association is more interested in the “big guys,” who had more votes in the past and contributed fi nancially much more than the smaller companies. Citco, for example, with its origin in Curaçao, has about 60 offices worldwide. Citco Curaçao, Citco Fund Services and Citco Banking are in Curaçao. Citco’s large shareholder, Chris Smeets is also the owner of SFT Bank.

Also Fortis is among the “big guys,” as is Elias’ United Trust Company. Together they have a great number of the approximately 16,000 offshore corporations in Curaçao. Citco is locally very big on the so-called mutual funds. It is the Cifa that advices the government with international fiscal topics. Cifa also has a representative in the Task Force Fiscal Treaties of the Antillean Government, but the Finance Minister also listens to individual offices. Finance-minister Ersilia de Lannooy (PNP) can soon expect a report with recommendations of the Economic Advisory Committee that she established in October of last year. This committee consists of tax specialist Maarten Ellis, Citco Group-top executive Smeets and economist Sri Ram Aiyer of the World Bank. This report does not only concern the international financial sector, but is much broader and goes for example into the importance of further development of the tourism.

Cifa is directed by Chairman Behr (HBM), Vice-chairman Vanenburg (PwC), Treasurer Hugo van Neutegem (NMT Curaçao), Secretary Focco Lunsingh Scheurleer (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne), while the other committee- members are Bryan D. Irausquin (Deloitte), Toine Knipping (Amicorp) and Gosse de Vries (Equity Trust).

Bron: Daily Herald

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