The Department of Commerce and Investment hosted a training session for dealers in precious metals and stones on Thursday, 15 Aug. The evening outreach workshop provided members of the precious metals and stones industry with information about their obligations under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations.
The event is part of the department’s effort to meet recommendations by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, which highlighted various shortcomings in its assessment of Cayman’s anti-money laundering framework in a report released in March.
Minister for Commerce Joey Hew said it is essential that the Cayman Islands as a jurisdiction does everything possible to meet its international obligations in anti-money laundering. “This is why the Hon. Premier has designated the implementation of CFATF recommendations a matter of national priority.”
The Department of Commerce and Investment as the regulator for non-financial businesses that fall under AML regulations had a vital role to play in helping dealers in precious metals and stones and real estate agents, brokers and developers to strengthen their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing frameworks, the minister added.
Failure to comply could lead to a grey listing of the Cayman Islands by the Financial Action Task Force, the global standard setter in the space, “and this is not an option”, Hew said.
The Ministry’s acting chief officer, Tamara Ebanks, reiterated the importance of the workshop in her welcome remarks and stressed that precious metals dealers and jewellers should look to the department for support.
The head of the Anti-Money Laundering Unit, Francis Arana, presented attendees with details of a National Risk Assessment that Cayman has conducted to better understand the level of risk the industry faces when it comes to money laundering, terrorist and proliferation financing.
He detailed the ways in which illicit cash can be converted into legitimate and difficult to trace products, such as precious metals and stones.
Deputy National Coordinator for Government’s Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group (AMLSG) Justine Plenkiewicz discussed targeted financial sanctions and proliferation financing within the context of the precious metals and stones industry in the Cayman Islands.
Workshop attendees were then instructed on their responsibilities for supporting national compliance with the CFATF recommendations.
This included a demonstration from the Director of the Financial Reporting Authority Robert James Berry on how dealers should file suspicious activity reports. He detailed the reasons for maintaining up-to-date and thorough records, particularly when there is a transaction that raises a red flag in their business, for instance when customers attempt to run several credit cards for a single purchase or buyers wishing to make a purchase with a large sum of cash.
Attendees were also informed about how the department would evaluate their actions in the event of suspicious activity. Head of Compliance and Enforcement for DCI Claudia Brady illustrated how dealers can set up their own AML/CFT frameworks and the ways to conduct a risk assessment for their businesses. She reminded the attendees that DCI will conduct regular onsite and offsite monitoring of the industry, to ensure compliance.
DCI director Ryan Rajkumarsingh said the workshop was attended by about 70% of registered entities and a video link of the session would be provided to all precious metals dealers, so that they can review any of the complex subject areas again. “The small number of dealers who were unable to attend will be invited to further workshops and also encouraged to view the video session,” Rajkumarsingh said.
He also reminded non-financial businesses who fall under anti-money laundering regulations that the next outreach session will be on Thursday, 29 Aug.
This mandatory session will focus on the requirements of real estate agents and brokers.
Interested stakeholders are asked to contact [email protected]
to register their attendance.