The Cayman Islands Bureau of Financial Investigations (CIBFI) has secured court orders freezing US$200 million, in what the authorities describe as “a significant contribution to combatting money laundering and related offences”.
CIBFI Chief Inspector, Richard Barrow said the funds seized are “part of several ongoing international investigations and have been frozen by the jurisdiction as part of the investigative process.”
He also disclosed that “a small number of which relate to the potential financing of terrorism.”
National Coordinator for the Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group (AMLSG), Elisabeth Lees, says, “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.”
She adds that 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.”
According to a government press release, the Cayman Islands has been tasked with implementing recommendations by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), the regional body of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) on combatting money laundering and financing of terrorism.
The government says implementation of their recommendations “is essential to support national compliance and, as a result, protect the Cayman Islands from being placed upon the “grey list” by the FATF.”
An assessment of the steps being taken by the jurisdiction is expected to be announced by the FATF this month following an ‘observation period’ from February 2019 to October last year.
The newly appointed Head of the Bureau, Victoria Templeman, says they are committed to developing the unit into a global centre for excellence, working in partnership with national and international stakeholders 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.”
She said, “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 11-member CIBFI consists of specialists with experience in the Cayman Islands, the UK, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Sweden says it follows “a strategic international recruitment campaign to ensure experienced and accredited financial investigators, police and civilian professionals and financial analysts.”
The Bureau says personnel numbers are expected to grow during 2021, as it develops and undertakes increasingly complex and sophisticated investigations.
The Cayman Islands Bureau of Financial Investigations (CIBFI) was established in March 2020, from 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 says it “utilises advanced law enforcement techniques in the investigation of complex, cross-border financial crimes, while conducting 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.
The CIBFI says “this is essential to ensure active collaboration between industry and law enforcement in the tackling of sophisticated organised crime.”
It says the Bureau’s work also forms a vital prong in the Cayman Islands’ strategy to meet and exceed international anti-money laundering standards.