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. In the course of 2016 and 2017, the FCIU investigated ninety-three financial crime investigations and dealt with thirteen 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 ODPP in dealing with an international request to restrain a yacht valued in excess of US$100,000,000.
Detectives with the FCIU work closely with colleagues from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to diligently 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 fourteen-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 $500,000CI, a twelve-year sentence for a woman who committed elder financial abuse, and a twenty-month sentence, compensation order and deportation for a Bulgarian national found in possession of sixty-two cloned bank cards.
In addition to major cases such as these, FCIU detectives investigate fraud cases resulting from scams in the online environment. Such cases have become more common in recent years with the explosion of 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 in other countries, and whenever possible, justice for victims in Cayman. Combatting terrorist financing as well as fraud is a priority for the Unit, and in 2017 the FCIU established a new Proactive Task Force for International Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, which assists overseas law enforcement agencies with requests for information through mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs) and international letters of request.
At the local level, the FCIU works with the Financial Reporting Authority (FRA) and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) to protect the Cayman Islands financial industry. This collaboration produces an annual highlight for the industry, which is the Fraud Prevention Seminar that the FCU organizes every fall in partnership with CIMA, 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 and raise 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 unit are certified financial investigators (FIs) 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, restraints, money laundering and the financing of terrorism. With such expertise, FCIU detectives function with a high level of competency, confidence and professionalism. The FCIU consists of 7 Detective Constables, 1 Detective Sergeant, 2 Detective Inspectors, and 1 Detective Chief Inspector, and is headed by a Detective Superintendent.