As reported in the Nation News online here, Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur made the following comment while addressing the Institute of Chartered Accountants at the Caribbean's 24th annual conference at Hilton Barbados…
"Happily, we in the Caribbean have thus far been spared Enron-type experiences.
"The duty falls now on our accountants, especially those performing the role of auditors, in addition to our lawyers and other gatekeepers, to ensure that there is no erosion in our system of corporate governance, fragile as it is." …
…Barbados PM Owen Arthur addressing Institute of Chartered Accountants
ENRON Barbados Connections
When the Prime Minister made his Enron comments, was his tongue planted firmly in-cheek? Or perhaps he was just being cheeky?
The Caribbean and Barbados figured prominently in the Enron scandal. Perhaps the PM just had a memory lapse, so we shall remind him…
* ENRON management used Caribbean and Barbados offshore companies and banks to set up some 900 front companies to facilitate the movement of money to the detriment of Enron shareholders.
* Barbados and several of its Caribbean neighbors have been linked to the collapse of Enron, one of the world's largest energy companies, reports Tony Best (Jan. 21, 2002). According to documents which Enron filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Texas-based energy giant had six subsidiaries in Barbados and they may have been used to help the company avoid paying federal income tax for four of the past five years. Enron had almost 900 subsidiaries in the Caribbean, most of them registered in the Cayman Islands and the Turks & Caicos Islands. The Enron reports showed that on December 31, 2000, the firm had 692 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, 119 in the Turks & Caicos, 8 in Bermuda, 6 in Barbados, 4 in Puerto Rico and 1 each in Aruba and the British Virgin Islands. In addition, it had 43 in Mauritius, 2 in Hong Kong, 2 in Panama and 1 each in Singapore, Guam and Guernsey. Experts were quick to point out that Enron's actions were perfectly legal under U.S. laws and there was no evidence to suggest that the tax havens where Enron registered the offshore companies did anything illegal. (link here)
You Want Irony? Prime Minister Owen Arthur Calls For "Full Disclosure" For Corporate Governance (But Not For Elected Officials, Of Course!)
The same newspaper article quotes PM Owen Arthur as supporting a proposed regional code of corporate governance that would "strengthen the role of boards vis-a-vis management, to govern excessive payment of directors and to provide for full disclosure…"
This from the Prime Minister of Barbados after 12 years of failing to introduce any Conflict of Interest or public integrity legislation – despite a majority government.
What was that phrase again?
Oh yes… "Do as I say, not as I do"