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GRAND CAYMAN, B.W.I.-The appointment of William McCullough as head of insurance supervision and the establishment of the semi-autonomous Monetary Authority in the Cayman Islands has captive managers relieved and optimistic.

A measure of uncertainty surrounded the island domicile last year as many waited to see who would fill the void created in July when John Darwood, the island's deputy inspector of insurance since 1993, left to become senior adviser in the Insurance Division of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission.

That concern was resolved in November with the hiring of Mr. McCullough (BI, Jan. 27).

Mr. McCullough's appointment coincided with the startup of the Monetary Authority as well as passage of new legislation aimed at inhibiting white-collar crime in Cayman.

Mr. McCullough, a native of Northern Ireland, has held posts in insurance brokerage, underwriting and supervision around the world since 1976. Most recently he was general manager of a Commercial Union Assurance Co. P.L.C./Swiss Reinsurance Co. joint venture in Saudi Arabia. Prior to that, he was the insurance regulation and supervision adviser in Bahrain.

In other administrative changes, Christopher Collins was named deputy head of insurance supervision for the Monetary Authority, replacing John Mantz, who left the island when his contract expired last year. Mr. Collins has worked in the insurance industry in senior executive roles in Europe, South America and the United States.

Mr. McCullough, who signed a two-year deal but expects to stay at his post at least four years, said he has no great plans to overhaul Cayman's laws or regulations.

Instead, his goal is "maintaining our position of importance," he said. "My predecessors have done a magnificent job" in bringing Cayman to its position. "I hope to make more progress."

"There will be some changes, but more to clarify and streamline current regulation, rather than change," he said.

"I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. I'm just going to add more oil to make it work a little smoother," he said.

For captive managers, it is Mr. McCullough's and Mr. Collins' private sector experience and the Monetary Authority's new semi-private sector status that has them most pleased.

In creating the Monetary Authority, the Cayman Island government disbanded the Financial Services Supervision Department, which oversaw insurance and banking, and created a more widespread unit that oversees banking, insurance, mutual funds, management companies, the Cayman's Currency Board and the island's new stock exchange.

While the Monetary Authority is still quasi-governmental, it is one step away from a bureaucracy and one step closer to the private sector.

"We're relieved it's all finished and settled," said Seamus Tivnan, general manager of Marsh & McLennan Management Services (Cayman) Ltd. "They've done an excellent job of getting it together quickly."

(contd. part 2)