A senior official from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has commented on the positive role that jurisdictions like the Cayman Islands play in combatting financial crime.
Appearing before the US Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee in May 2019, FBI Acting Deputy Assistant Director (Criminal Investigative Division), Steven M. D'Antuono, spoke about the "immense value" of beneficial ownership information shared by United Kingdom Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, including the Cayman Islands, that law enforcement has continually praised in their investigations.
Mr D'Antuono noted that bilateral agreements with the UK and its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories related to the sharing of beneficial ownership information went into effect in July 2017.
"Under the terms of these agreements, UK law enforcement has access to company beneficial ownership information in support of investigations. This information must be made available within 24 hours of a request. Our colleagues at the UK's National Crime Agency have continually noted the immense value of such information in their investigations," he said.
"These frameworks can provide valuable insight into the critical aspects of a successful system for maintaining, accessing, and sharing accurate beneficial ownership information."
Mr D'Antuono gave credit to countries like the Cayman Islands that have robust anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing regulations for their requirements of documentation [and verification] of beneficial owners for "legal persons". As this information is available to regulators and law enforcement, it allows them to more vigorously be able to identify and mitigate illegal actors and protect financial systems.
Cayman Finance Chief Executive Officer, Jude Scott, welcomed the acknowledgement from the US official about the important role the Cayman Islands play in preventing financial crime.
"Our world class verified ownership regime has been in place for over 15 years. We are pleased to see our international partners continue to recognise our leadership in this area as a transparent jurisdiction that adheres to the highest international standards," said Mr Scott.
The information Cayman requires to be collected is available to the authorities making proper requests to Cayman Islands authorities through existing information sharing channels between the Cayman Islands government and the UK as well as other countries.
"What distinguishes the Cayman Islands regime apart from most others around the world is that the information in our system is collected and verified by licensed Cayman Islands corporate service providers under existing anti-money laundering and know-your-customer laws," said Mr Scott.
"Those same licensed corporate service providers are responsible for submission of beneficial ownership registry information to the Cayman Islands Government, and that information forms part of the Cayman Islands’ current enhanced information exchange arrangements with the UK and shared with other countries, including the US," he added.
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