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(CNS Business): The volume of suspicious activity reports (SARs) being filed in the Cayman Islands is far too low considering that the jurisdiction is the fifth largest in the world, according to Detective Superintendent Brian Donley, lead in the RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit. DS Donley said that there had to be more suspicious activity taking place in Cayman and compliance officers were either being prevented from reporting such suspicious activity or were just not seeing it. Better relations between the authorities and the private sector might improve the situation, he believed but thought the authorities were sometimes slow in responding back to the private sector once they had reported a SAR for many reasons, one of which was that sometimes people politically linked within the island might be involved in the suspicious activity report and such cases could take years to solve.
DS Donley, who was speaking at the Global Compliance Solutions Conference held last week at the Marriott Beach Resort during a panel discussion on better relations with the regulator, the Financial Reporting Authority and the police, believed that it would be an advantage in the fight against criminality if relations were improved with the private sector and said he did not know enough of the assembled compliance officers and money laundering reporting officers at the conference. Conversely, he wondered how many members of the audience knew the team at the FCU.
“How many of you have said: who are you? What do you do? Because when you get that problem, compliance officers, do you know that person to ring?” he asked the audience.
Compliance officers had to protect the organisations that they worked for, he said, and, as this was one of the biggest financial centres in the world, he did not understand why the authorities received such a small number of SARs. According to the most recent statistics available, there were 254 SARs reported during 2009 – 2010.
“If we are the fifth biggest institution in the world and you are protecting your companies, you’ve got two sides of that: one you want to make sure your company still survives because you want a job in the future but the other side of it is you’ve got to try and make sure that the dirty money isn’t coming through. Otherwise you will see what has happened to one or two banks in the UK and America and a branch of one here. And if we are not given the SARs to protect you, protect the Cayman Islands, where does that take us? he wondered.
“I don’t know how much money goes through the banks here but it is an awful lot and there must be more suspicious activity. Now, either you as compliance officers are being stopped by the people you work for or you are not seeing it.”
He appreciated the process of complying with the law, filling out forms accurately and getting them to the right people, but he wondered about the “informal process” of making a phone call to the FCU, and advising them that they had a problem and they didn’t know what was behind the issue. This, he said did not seem to be working as well as it should be.
“That’s about personal relationships, building confidence between yourselves and the police,” he said.
Responding to a question from the audience as to why the follow up on SARs by the authorities was often slow when it came to updating the entity which had made the report as to the report’s status, DS Donley said that there were various reasons as to why some SARs were kept open for long periods of time.
“Sometimes it could be difficult because it could be long term international enquiries where some of the money has ended up here … Some of it is highly, highly confidential and could take years to sort out. Maybe it’s someone who is politically linked within these islands or other islands.”
DS Donley said that more could be done and the authorities should be building on more knowledgeable links, officially and unofficially.
“It’s a tiny island … We should know everything that goes on … Too many people are in silos. Some for good reason – you are competitors with each other, but clearly more could be done with the associations.”
The comments posted do not necessarily reflect the views of CNS or any individual staff member. All comments are posted subject to approval by CNS. Read more
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