Financial Unit, Australia sign MoU

The Cayman Islands Financial Reporting Authority, the country’s financial intelligence unit, has signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate the exchange of information with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.

The MoU, signed at the Egmont Group1 Plenary Session and Working Group Meetings held in Bermuda in early June, enhances international cooperation protocols between the FRA and AUSTRAC as part of both agencies’ global contributions to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

‘Entering into such understandings with other financial intelligence units across the world is a significant step forward in the Cayman Islands’ global commitment to do our part in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.’ said FRA Director Mr. Lindsey Cacho. ‘These important agreements play a critical role in the Cayman Islands’ multi-agency anti money laundering and prevention of terrorist financing enforcement regime.’2

Cayman’s anti money-laundering and combating the financing of terrorism regime operates through a partnership of institutions and authorities which includes the FRA, states a press release.

Others include the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, the Financial Crime Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty Central Authority, Customs and the Attorney General’s Chambers. The Cayman Islands also has an Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group, which is a statutory body charged with policy and implementation oversight in relation to the anti money-laundering regime.

The FRA has a responsibility to work with global financial intelligence units in the review and analysis of suspicious activity. During the 2004-05 reporting period, the FRA received 244 suspicious activity reports, more than 30 of which from overseas FIUs. Of the total reports, 88 of those were onwardly disclosed to the appropriate local or overseas law enforcement agency. These disclosures provided new information in support of existing investigations and in some cases, lead to the initiation of investigations.

While an MoU is not a prerequisite for FIUs to seek assistance from the FRA, they do facilitate greater detail in information sharing between counterpart agencies. The MoU with AUSTRAC is the eighth that the FRA has signed and five are pending. Current MoUs cover a broad range of countries, including the U.S., Canada, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia and Thailand.

Since 1996, there have been five successful prosecutions for money laundering in the Cayman Islands, the last being in December 2006. The predicate offences underlying these charges ranged from advance fee fraud, theft, frauds and conspiracy to defraud. Prison sentences ranged from 12 months to 5 years and fines levied ranged from CI$6,000 to US$1,000,000. In addition, forfeiture amounts of CI$143,000 and US$500,000 were also ordered against two of the defendants.

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