Student Voice: Offshore Financial Transactions Class - Grand Trip to Grand Cayman

April 5, 2016

Caymans-group-picAggie Law students learn more about offshore financial transactions in the Cayman Islands. L-R: Grant Hamilton, Justin Davis, Kevin Merchant, Cameron Frysinger, Kyle Corgan, Gregory Franklin, Dean Andrew Morriss, Aaron E. Cartwright, Charles Lincoln, Hayden Bartley, Norman Macdonald, Carey Erff and Sean Williams.

This past Spring Break, twelve Aggie law students flew out to a little island in the British West Indies. The island was Grand Cayman—the main island of the Cayman Islands of the British Overseas Territories. I had the pleasure to be one of these Aggies.

The Cayman Islands hosts a large amount of intrigue and many misconceptions. It’s often referred to as a tax haven or a place where corruption occurs and assets are hidden. The instructors of the course, "Special Problems in Corporate Law: Offshore Financial Transactions, Cayman Islands," quickly got rid of this impression. The Cayman Islands has a strictly regulated financial industry as all the speakers indicated to. It’s not like Tom Cruise and The Firm where law firms go to the Caymans to hide money. Indeed, with the high levels of regulation, it is exactly the opposite. Moreover, with the passage of Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), all financial structures are required to disclose assets of Americans abroad. This may seem to be a cause for problems, and perhaps it is, but Cayman Islands is in full compliance with international regulations.

caymans-group-boatAggie Law students having grand time in the Grand Caymans over Spring Break for the course "Special Problems in Corporate Law: Offshore Financial Transactions, Cayman Islands."
As each speaker ​dispelled more and more myths, we started hitting close to the way these incredible financial structures are created and function. We were face to face with experts on hedge funds, banking, captive insurance, special purpose vehicles, trusts, insurance linked securities, asset securitization and compliance. All this may sound like too much to learn in one week, but each of the speakers had the ability to speak clearly and effectively to get their points across. Moreover, we did have several meetings prior to the trip and a host of readings prior to going to class to get us up to speed.

All this may sound like it’s not for your law career path​, but considering that all the students had diverse and unique career backgrounds, it becomes clear that anyone can learn something interesting on this trip. Even from a purely academic standpoint, I felt that I was at the metaphysical center of offshore modern capitalism. As one of my fellow students, Sean Williams, said, “It sparked a genuine curiosity in us to want to learn more.” Indeed, we all had some idea of what we were going to study, but none of us knew everything we were going to study. Yet we all came out knowing essentially what an incoming associate at a Wall Street law firm would know.

Caymans-Lincoln-stingray3L Charles Lincoln exploring Caymans' wildlife.
I and all my classmates recommend this course no matter what field of law you are planning on going into. Feel free to ask any of the students on the trip how their experience was at the Cayman Islands.

Moreover, you get free time as well to explore the island and enjoy interesting activities, such as holding stingrays.

- Article contributed by Texas A&M School of Law third-year student Charles Lincoln.