The Cayman Islands Bureau of Financial Investigations (CIBFI) has secured court orders freezing US$200 million, in a significant contribution to combatting money laundering and related offences.
Chief Inspector, Richard Barrow of the Bureau explains the funds are “part of several ongoing international investigations and have been frozen by the jurisdiction as part of the investigative process. At present, the Bureau is involved in several active investigations, a small number of which relate to the potential financing of terrorism.”
CIBFI was established in March 2020, building on the work of an interim task force set up in April 2019. It is a separate entity from the Financial Crime Investigation Unit, which deals primarily with domestic financial crime matters.
The Bureau utilises advanced law enforcement techniques in the investigation of complex, cross-border financial crimes, while conducing proactive analysis of intelligence alongside financial transactions.
It also provides outreach to private sector stakeholders, alongside the Financial Reporting Authority (FRA), on topics that include typologies and the findings from the jurisdiction’s National Risk Assessment. This is essential to ensure active collaboration between industry and law enforcement in the tackling of sophisticated organised crime. The Bureau’s work also forms a vital prong in the Cayman Islands’ strategy to meet and exceed international anti-money laundering standards.
The team consists of specialists with experience in the Cayman Islands, the UK, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Sweden following a strategic international recruitment campaign to ensure experienced and accredited financial investigators, police and civilian professionals and financial analysts. It is presently made up of eleven experts, including a specialist investigator in cryptocurrency transactions, but personnel numbers are expected to grow during 2021, as the Bureau develops and undertakes increasingly complex and sophisticated investigations.
The newly appointed Head of the Bureau, Victoria Templeman, is committed to developing the unit into a global centre for excellence, working in partnership with stakeholders nationally and internationally.
“The Cayman Islands Bureau of Financial Investigations is a vital partner to agencies and entities such as INTERPOL and EUROPOL. Investigation, collaboration and intelligence sharing with our counterparts across the globe position the Bureau as an essential part of international crime-fighting efforts when it comes to money laundering and related offences,” Mrs. Templeman explains.
She adds: “The Bureau offers a diverse range of expertise, particularly with regards the quickly evolving area of cybercrime. It has also successfully harnessed home-grown talent, who offer a comprehensive knowledge of the vast and multifaceted financial services industry enjoyed by the Cayman Islands,”
The National Coordinator for the Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group (AMLSG), Elisabeth Lees, adds: “Although it is still in its infancy, the Bureau, along with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, has already secured restraint orders, which are proven tools to prevent the dissipation of assets by money launderers. The team is essential for the Cayman Islands as we seek to ensure that we are investigating and prosecuting criminal cases in line with our risk profile and international standards.”
The Cayman Islands has been tasked with implementing the Recommended Actions (RAs) arising from an assessment of the jurisdiction by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF),the regional body of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force)that promotes the implementation international standards to counter money laundering, terrorist financing and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The FATF is the global standard setter for combatting money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and proliferation financing.
Implementation of these RAs is essential to support national compliance and, as a result, protect the Cayman Islands from being placed upon the “grey list” by the FATF.
The final outcome of the Observation Period, which started in February 2019 and concluded on 23 October 2020, is expected to be announced by the FATF in February 2021.