Financial Crime Investigation Unit
The Financial Crime Investigation Unit (FCIU) is a specialist unit dedicated to investigating criminal offences related to money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and fraud.
During 2016 and 2017, the FCIU investigated 93 financial crime investigations and dealt with 13 cash seizures, detaining a total of CI$160,000 and US$25,400. In addition, it successfully restrained several assets, including eight vehicles, one motor boat, two houses, and cash deposits totaling CI$138,000. The FCIU also assisted the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in dealing with an international request to restrain a yacht valued in excess of US$100 million.
FCIU detectives work closely with ODPP colleagues to pursue convictions in complex cases, setting forth comprehensive and compelling evidence that leads to authoritative verdicts and sentences. Recent court results of note include a 14-year sentence for one man who fraudulently offered immigration advice and defrauded dozens of applicants; an eight-year sentence for another man who defrauded the University College of the Cayman Islands of CI$500,000, a 12-year sentence for a woman who committed financial abuse against an elderly person; and a 20-month sentence, compensation order and deportation for a Bulgarian national found in possession of 62 cloned bank cards.
In addition to major cases such as these, FCIU detectives investigate fraud cases resulting from online scams. Such cases have become more common in recent years with internet-based commercial transactions and online banking. Generally in Cayman these scams use phishing emails disguised to appear like legitimate emails from banks, or fake job advertisements, to obtain funds by deception and personal information. In almost all cases, these scams originate in other jurisdictions.
Due to the international nature of these and many of the financial crimes they deal with, FCIU detectives often conduct overseas enquiries and rely heavily on international law enforcement networks and information-sharing. Therefore, a main thrust of their work is the development of law enforcement cooperation with other jurisdictions toward the identification and arrest of offenders, wherever the crime is suspected to have occurred.
Combatting money laundering and terrorist financing is also an FCIU priority, and in 2017 the FCIU established a new Proactive Task Force for International Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. This task force assists overseas law enforcement agencies with requests for information through mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs) and international letters of request.
Locally, the FCIU works with Cayman agencies, including the Financial Reporting Authority (FRA), Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA), and Department of Commerce and Investment (DCI) to protect Cayman from financial crime.
Every fall, the FCIU organises the Fraud Prevention Seminar in collaboration with these agencies, the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, local banks, De La Rue from the UK, and other overseas law enforcement agencies. Detectives also appear regularly in the media to provide crime and fraud prevention advice for the general public, raising awareness about the latest trends in online scams and counterfeit currency.
Financial crime cases require complex and meticulous investigation, and a high level of expertise. Detectives assigned to the FCIU are certified financial investigators who are skilled and experienced practitioners, qualified in different areas of expertise such as anti-money laundering and compliance. They receive continuous, specialised training overseas and locally in competencies such as cash seizures, forfeiture, asset confiscation and restraints. With such expertise, FCIU detectives function with a high level of competency, confidence and professionalism.
As of early 2020 the FCIU consists of seven Detective Constables, one Detective Sergeant, two Detective Inspectors, and one Detective Chief Inspector. It is headed by a Detective Superintendent.
Role of the RCIPS :
The Cayman Islands has implemented the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) 40 Recommendations on the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Countering of Terrorist Financing, which are international standards for effective anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regimes. The Cayman Islands are a founding member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), which is a regional FATF-style body that ensures its Members comply with the FATF Recommendations.
In 2017, the Cayman Islands were assessed against FATF’s 40 Recommendations. The mutual evaluation report can be found here.
The RCIPS, and in particular the FCIU, plays a key role in facilitating these recommendations. The FCIU, along with other local entities, also have representation on ARIN-Carib, a regional asset recovery network.
More information on the AML/CFT regulatory framework can be found at the Cayman Islands Anti-Money Laundering Unit website.
Cayman Islands Stakeholder Forum:
The Stakeholders Forum was established by the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit (“FCIU”) in 2017 where the FCIU engaged compliance officers from the Class A Banks and Money Services Bureaus. In response to the CFATF Recommendations the FCIU extended membership of the Stakeholders Forum to a wider cross section of the financial sector to include but not limited to Trusts and Corporate Service Providers. Through the Stakeholder Forum, the Cayman Islands seek to further engage and evolve the Public-Private partnership to achieve an elevated standard of intelligence sharing and analysis. This will require actionable and typological information to inform what constitutes financial crime risks and incidents.
The Stakeholder Forum will provide an environment in which participants from industry, law enforcement and regulatory authorities can share sanitized information and intelligence that may serve to detect, prevent and disrupt money laundering and wider economic crime threats against the Cayman Islands. The forum will leverage collaborative expertise to create a culture of collective ownership for financial crime risks in the jurisdiction. The sharing of general characteristics that underlie suspicious activity identified or crimes perpetuated will help entities, law enforcement and regulatory bodies design targeted controls to mitigate common characteristics of ML/TF and PF.
Objectives and Scope:
The Stakeholder Forum is a Public-Private Partnership that provides regularly convened dynamic dialogue on financial crime threats, based on shared and agreed objectives and priorities. In order to ensure the forum is cohesive within a broader strategic approach to tackling financial crime, it is important that all stakeholders be in agreement with the strategic objectives of the forum.
The principal objectives are:
· To develop a more collaborative and constructive relationship between relevant public agencies and regulated entities.
· To evolve Public-Private consultations to become a mainstream component of the Cayman Islands AML/CTF/PF regime.
· Provide relevant updates to Industry from Law enforcement and/or Regulatory Authorities.
· Examine emerging international trends as well as FATF Guidance and recommendations.
· To educate frontline staff within the private sector, resulting in increased prevention and disruption of financial crime threats.
To create within the Cayman Islands a collective and more sophisticated response to financial crime driven by better informed law enforcement agency, regulators and industry professionals, and enhanced control frameworks. This will result in an increase in the Cayman Islands’ public and private sector resilience to financial crime, thereby further protecting the reputation of the jurisdiction in this regard.
COVID-19-related Financial Crime:
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented global challenges for law enforcement activity and economic disruption. The below reports seek to identify challenges, trends, good practices and policy responses to novel fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing threats and vulnerabilities arising from the COVID-19 crisis:
RCIPS FCIU Highlights Increases in Fraud and Cybercrime Due to COVID-19
COVID-19-related Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing
ARIN CARIB Report: How Remote Hearings in Asset Recovery Matters Triumphed Over COVID-19
Effects of COVID-19 on Financial Crime and Compliance
National AML/CFT Structure: