Following an invitation from the Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin at the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) in London last December, senior representatives from the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) visited the Cayman Islands on Tuesday, 23 February, to discuss cooperation between both countries' law enforcement agencies, as well as Cayman's progress in enhancing its beneficial ownership information regime.
The UK delegation included Dr Peter Hayes, Director of the FCO's Overseas Territories Directorate; Andy Lewis, the NCA's Head of Bribery, Corruption and Sanctions; and Russell Phillips, the FCO's Senior Policy Adviser, Economic and Financial Services.
In addition to the Premier, the delegation also spoke with the Minister of Financial Services, Wayne Panton; and other Government officials.
'Government continues to maintain a position of zero tolerance on illicit activity and financial crime', the Premier said. 'Our commitment to the UK, and to other foreign authorities, is to collaborate and cooperate to ensure that those responsible for illicit activity can be prosecuted in the relevant jurisdictions'.
As part of discussions, the Ministry updated the UK delegation on progress to enhance Cayman's current beneficial ownership information regime. This process is being facilitated through a working group established by the Ministry in September of last year. Comprising representatives from Government, Cayman Finance and other industry associations, this group has been working to ensure that Cayman's regime will continue to meet internationally accepted standards.
Minister Panton said the day's meetings further familiarised UK officials with the strengths of Cayman's existing legislative and regulatory framework, and allowed the building of new relationships between Cayman and UK officials.
'It was excellent to hear the UK's support for how Cayman's Government and industry work together, in order to tackle global problems such as money laundering and corruption', he said.
'We had an opportunity to explain, in more detail, the merits and potential mechanics of our proposed centralised platform, which would be locally accessed and non-public. This would be an additional enhancement to our current, strong anti money-laundering regime; and would be a similarly effective, viable alternative to the UK's approach of a central register.'
Dr Hayes of the FCO said, 'We agreed at the JMC that addressing this issue would be given the highest priority. We very much welcome the timely and constructive discussions'.
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