The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) confirmed that the Cayman Islands has fully implemented the action plan agreed with the global standard setter for anti-money laundering.
In February 2021, the FATF had included the Cayman Islands on a list of countries whose AML regimes are under increased monitoring. To be taken off this so-called grey list, the FATF required the Islands to address the three remaining recommended actions out of a total of 63 points first raised by a Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) mutual evaluation report in March 2019.
FATF president T. Raja Kumar said at a press conference in Paris, France, on 23 June: “This week, the FATF determined that the Cayman Islands has substantially completed its action plan. And the determination has been made that this warrants an onsite assessment.”
Having satisfied the action items, the Cayman Islands is now eligible to be delisted at the next FATF plenary in October 2023, provided it successfully completes the routine follow-up onsite visit.
Kumar said Cayman authorities had made substantial progress since the grey listing. “I just cite one example of an area that they have made good progress in, which is essentially demonstrating that effective proportionate and dissuasive sanctions are in place for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism compliance breaches.”
During the onsite visit, a team of experts will verify the progress the Cayman Islands has achieved and determine that the measures that the Cayman Islands has put in place are sustainable, he added.
Steve McIntosh, CEO of Cayman Finance, said “Cayman Finance welcomes the announcement by the FATF that the Cayman Islands has now fully satisfied all 63 recommended actions with respect to Anti Money Laundering regulations and the effectiveness of our enforcement regime.
“While we recognise that there remains work to be done during the upcoming onsite inspection, on behalf of the Board and Members of Cayman Finance, we warmly congratulate the entire government delegation and all those in the many departments and agencies that contributed to reaching this final milestone on the road to de-listing.”
The Cayman Finance CEO particularly recognised Financial Services Minister André Ebanks, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, and the head of the Anti-Money Laundering Unit, Francis Arana, who attended the FATF plenary to represent the Cayman Islands and discuss the progress made on the last of the three recommended actions in the FATF action plan.
“We thank them, and all agencies that participated in this achievement, for their commitment,” McIntosh said.
Conor O’Dea, chairman of Cayman Finance, added, “Today’s announcement is testament to the perseverance of our government and private sector. Well done to all involved.”
Minister Ebanks said in a press release that satisfying all of the 63 recommended actions is a major step towards the Cayman Islands being delisted, but, with one more step to complete, all relevant stakeholders needed to remain focused.
During the onsite visit, tentatively scheduled for late August or early September, FATF assessors will visit the Cayman Islands to meet in person with local stakeholders to assess the operation of the action plan in practice, as well as its sustainability.
An onsite visit report then will be presented at the next FATF plenary, scheduled for October this year, when the Cayman Islands will receive confirmation whether it will be delisted.
The attorney general noted that preparations are already underway for the onsite visit of the Americas Joint Group – a subgroup of the FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG).
The attorney general and Minister Ebanks both said the Cayman Islands looks forward to continuing its cooperation with the FATF Americas Joint Group during their onsite visit to complete the last step of the delisting process.