The Cayman Islands anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regime underwent significant changes in 2019 and Attorney General Samuel Bulgin has said it will continue this year.
Speaking at the Grand Court opening on Wednesday, Bulgin lamented that the international rules related to taxes, anti-money laundering and the combatting of the financing of terrorism “are constantly changing midstream”.
“The jurisdiction is expected, indeed required, to comply, and so a considerable part of last year was spent putting in place legislative, as well as administrative, measures to give effect to these evolving standards,” he said.
He said 2020 will see more of the same.
“So, although as a jurisdiction we are suffering from review fatigue, there is simply no relief in sight from these initiatives,” he added.
Cayman is due to present its report on the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation Report by 21 Feb. this year, which will outline local efforts to address recommendations made in the last evaluation.
The changes to the local financial services legal framework are being made in an effort to address the CFATF report, which was released last March.
Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, in response to Bulgin, said the judiciary is not “exempt” from review fatigue, as it too has been feeling the pain as it has to keep up with the changes.
He said he hopes that Cayman’s efforts bear fruit and the changes made will be met with approval.
“Our resolve to ensure that the jurisdiction continues to be a hostile environment for undesirable players is not in doubt, and we will continue our constructive engagement with our international partners and other stakeholders in ensuring Cayman’s continuing compliance with these obligations,” Bulgin said in his address.
David Collins, president of the Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association, also spoke to the issue of regulations and compliance in his address at the Grand Court opening.
He said the association has established the Cayman Attorneys Regulation Authority as the new anti-money laundering supervisor for attorneys.
“The authority is fully operational and staffed with recruits of the highest calibre. It benefits from the oversight of an independent board of non-lawyers. CILPA’s work in establishing this new authority will go a long way to satisfying the recommendations of the CFATF Cayman Islands MER. The authority will also give clients confidence in the AML regime applicable to Cayman Islands attorneys,” Collins added.
He also pointed out that CILPA worked with the attorney general’s office in drafting the Legal Services Bill. Collins said, if enacted, the bill will enhance Cayman’s credibility as a regulated profession.
“It includes a code of conduct and a disciplinary regime,” he said. “It is essential that I take this opportunity to communicate clearly with all stakeholders – the Cayman Islands will only be able to deliver the regulated legal services product that our clients and international regulators expect by enacting the draft Legal Services Bill.”
Bulgin, commenting on the bill, said there is still further work to be done “but the government is very optimistic that there will be an acceptable resolution to this very long, ongoing initiative”.