Once your fund is registered with the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) it will need to comply with various ongoing obligations under the Mutual Funds Law.
The list isn’t long but it’s important for regulated funds to comply to keep the fund in good standing with CIMA and avoid offences / penalties. Failing to comply with FATCA-related reporting obligations can also potentially result in a 30% withholding tax applying to the fund, which is clearly best avoided.
So, if your fund’s registered under section 4(3) of the Mutual Funds Law (see our earlier blog on the different kinds of funds), what are its ongoing obligations?
You’ve appointed your independent directors. They seem like good people, came highly recommended, have great resumes and seem interested and enthusiastic about your strategy. Now that you have them on board though, do you know what they should actually be doing?
Since the 2008 financial crisis, directors of investment funds have faced more and more scrutiny of their actions and decisions. Recent court cases have confirmed the rules on directors’ duties and in December 2013 the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) issued a statement of guidance on corporate governance (the Guidance) which it expects regulated funds to follow as a minimum. Although the BVI does not have an equivalent to the Guidance, the principles under BVI law are the same and a BVI fund director would be well advised to take direction from the Cayman Guidance.
So what should the directors of a regulated fund in Cayman or the BVI actually be doing?
One of the questions we receive regularly from our clients (existing and potential) is whether they can set up an LLC in Cayman. “Hi, my name is Jim and I’d like an LLC please”. This is a natural question for clients in North America as LLCs seem to be the preferred vehicle of choice for almost any purpose and so why should there be any other choice? For example, the vast majority of funds set up in the United States are LLCs, incorporated in Delaware, and every client is familiar with them and how they work.
We often find that the overlay of having the straight company concept in Cayman leads to some confusion. Cayman does not currently have the LLC concept and sticks to the regime of a company based on English Law. “We have them, why don’t you?” is what we typically hear. Traditionally, our long legacy as a British colony (you can imagine how a Scotsman writing this may grumble) has caused us to follow English Law (yes, Scottish Law is better, Donoghue –v– Stevenson, anyone, anyone…?).
However. It is not often that Cayman lawyers receive brand new playthings from the Cayman government, however this past Christmas, we had reason to break out the bubbly. Legislation was published for consultation which will introduce the concept of LLCs into Cayman Law. We’re not sure yet as to when the legislation will be passed and brought into force, so we will have a new plaything, we’re just not able to play with it… yet. We are though tooling up so that we can get going with this concept once it is actually released. Read more about this on our website.
So, what difference will it make?
There’s been increased focus from the courts and regulators on the duties owed by directors of a Cayman Islands or BVI fund since the financial crisis of 2007-8 and various high profile fund meltdowns. So what duties does a director of a fund actually owe?
In both the Cayman Islands and the BVI, directors’ duties are based on a mix of English common law, statute and regulatory guidance. A director of a corporate fund owes the same duties to the fund as a director of any other Cayman Islands or BVI company owes to its company. Under common law a director owes fiduciary duties and duties of skill, care and diligence.
Directors’ fiduciary duties are:
– to act in good faith in what the director considers is the best interests of the fund;
– to exercise powers for the purposes for which they were conferred and in the fund’s interests;
– to act with unfettered discretion; and
– to avoid conflicts of interest and to disclose personal interests in transactions.
If you are thinking of setting up an offshore hedge fund our new infographic which sets out the key steps is just for you.
Lewis and I had the great pleasure of attending the annual Hedge Funds Care seasonal event in New York last month, which is a fantastic cause that we feel very strongly about here at Harneys. For any of you that are not aware of their work, here are some further details: http://hfc.org/
We met a wide variety of professionals within the industry and had a number of fascinating conversations, although unsurprisingly Donald Trump seemed to feature in an awful lot of them.
One person we met was Grant Greenberg, a Director at Lumentus who gave us some really interesting statistics and advice that we thought the readership here might appreciate, and so without further ado, here it is: