As published on caymannewsservice.com, Monday 8 February, 2021.
(CNS): The Cayman Islands Bureau of Financial Investigations (CIBFI), a new law enforcement arm focused on investigating crime in the offshore sector, has seized US$200 million as part of a number of live investigations into money laundering and terrorist financing. The fledgling agency is still under development and was created to meet international demands for Cayman to play a more proactive part in fighting global financial crime.
The money has been seized through court orders as the various investigations proceed. RCIPS Chief Inspector Richard Barrow from the bureau said in a press release that the money was from several ongoing international investigations.
“It has 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,” he added.
The National Coordinator for the Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group (AMLSG), Elisabeth Lees, explained that while the bureau is still in its infancy, working with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions it has 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,” she said.
The team of eleven experts includes specialists with experience in Cayman, the UK, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Sweden after an international recruitment campaign to find accredited financial investigators, police and civilian professionals and financial analysts, as well as a specialist investigator in cryptocurrency transactions.
Officials said personnel numbers are expected to grow this year as the Bureau develops and undertakes increasingly complex and sophisticated investigations. The newly appointed Head of the Bureau, Victoria Templeman, who appears to have been recruited to the new agency from the UK Home Office, said she is committed to developing the unit into a global centre for excellence.
“The Cayman Islands Bureau of Financial Investigations is a vital partner to agencies and entities such as INTERPOL and EUROPOL,” she said. “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,” Templeman stated in the release.
“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,” she added.
Officials said this new bureau “utilises advanced law enforcement techniques in the investigation of complex, cross-border financial crimes, while conducing proactive analysis of intelligence alongside financial transactions”.
Working with the Financial Reporting Authority (FRA), which has effectively worked as a clearing house for reports about suspicious financial activity but does not investigate, the Bureau will be collaborating between industry and law enforcement as it goes after sophisticated organised crime, filling a long standing hole in Cayman’s fight against financial crime.