Law Society criticizes lack of consultation on anti-money laundering regulations

Alasdair Robertson, the president of the Law Society, has criticized a lack of consultation of the organization on the anti-money laundering regulations and the introduction of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority’s administrative fines regime.

In his address at the opening of the Grand Court on Jan. 17, Mr. Robertson said that the Law Society has endorsed modern anti-money laundering rules for some time and suggested in the Legal Practitioners Bill that the regime should apply to lawyers.

Several Law Society members spent considerable time last year working with the government on the proposed changes to anti-money laundering rules ahead of the evaluation of the Cayman Islands’ AML regime by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, which started in December 2017.

Mr. Robertson said, “It was therefore disappointing and, if I may say, concerning, that the government allowed less than two business day’s public consultation on regulations to bring lawyers into the AML regime as we had suggested and a version of regulations to introduce a Cayman Islands Monetary Authority administrative fines regime, severely limiting the ability of the financial services sector and the two law associations to provide meaningful comment.”

Other reasonable feedback and proposals on the primary anti-money laundering regulations and guidance notes were also not included and the Law Society received no detailed explanation as to why they were omitted, he added.

“Given the three-year lead-in to the CFATF evaluation, with the creation of the AML Unit and the designation of multiple sub-committees to review the AML framework, the last minute rush to introduce this legislation should have been totally avoidable,” Mr. Robertson said.

The Law Society president noted it was not the first time government had “failed to consult properly,” and to permit proper public debate about important forthcoming legislation.

“Such failures undermine the rule of law,” he said. “We can only hope therefore that meaningful public-private sector cooperation will be restored in 2018 and that the new AML legislation works as a matter of practice and does in fact achieve the government’s laudable [objectives].”

In the same speech, the Law Society president did, however, commend the enactment of the Foundations Companies Law and the Limited Liability Partnership Law last year, adding that the new laws are innovative products that will bring new opportunities to the jurisdiction.

He also thanked government for the opportunity to give input to the new beneficial ownership regime put in place last year.

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