Confirmation that the EU will not “top up” the FATF’s measures was provided in the EU’s letter to the Minister of Financial Services and Commerce, the Hon. André Ebanks. The letter, dated 17 May, was signed by the EU’s Department for Financial Stability and Capital Markets (DG FISMA), which oversees the EU’s AML/CFT listing process.
“This is excellent news,” Minister Ebanks said. “The EU’s decision acknowledges that the Islands’ enhanced legal framework, coupled with industry’s continuing compliance, indeed has strengthened our regime. It speaks to the significant milestones achieved by Government, regulators, and the financial services industry.”
Minister Ebanks noted that the Cayman Islands AML/CFT (anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism) regime is overseen by the Cayman Islands Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group. The Attorney General, the Hon. Samuel Bulgin, QC, chairs the group; and the Ministry is the deputy chair.
In the letter, DG FISMA officials said they would monitor the Cayman Islands’ progress on completing the FATF plan via the FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group, of which the EU is a member. Once the FATF removes the Cayman Islands from its list, the EU will begin its steps to delist the Cayman Islands.
The FATF, which sets the global standard for AML/CFT, gave a three-point action plan to the Cayman Islands on 25 February 2021 to support improvements to our framework. The Cayman Islands has satisfied one point, related to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority’s sanctions regime.
The second and third FATF action points relate to beneficial ownership filings and sanctions; and money laundering prosecution, respectively. The Cayman Islands will update the FATF on these two points during the FATF’s October 2022 plenary.
The EU places great importance on the AML/CFT fight and cooperation with its international partners, DG FISMA said. It pointed out that in recent years, it also has considerably strengthened its framework in line with FATF international standards.
It further noted that the AML list fulfils a legal requirement, under the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive, to identify high-risk third countries with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies in their regimes. The objective of the list is to protect the EU’s internal market against financial crimes.
During a 16-20 May visit to the EU and UK, Minister Ebanks led a Ministry delegation to discuss with DG FISMA the EU’s process for removing jurisdictions from its list. The EU placed the Cayman Islands on Its list on 13 March this year.