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Cayman Islands, St. Kitts & Nevis Discuss Financial Services With FATF And US Treasury

Lisa Ugur, Tax-news.com, London

18 December 2000


Officials from both the Cayman Islands and St. Kitts and Nevis travelled to Miami last week to discuss their current positions with the Review Group for the Americas of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the US Treasury Department. They will undoubtedly be keen to gather feedback from the anti-money laundering agency on the changes that have been instituted in their jurisdictions since the publication in June 2000 of the FATF report on 15 countries deemed "uncooperative" in the international fight against money laundering.

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Denzil Douglas, has taken several measures to deal with the legislative deficiencies identified in the FATF's report and a task force was established almost immediately after the report's publication to hammer out the legislation which finally went through in November. St. Kitts and Nevis have separate financial services jurisdictions but they have made a joint effort to appease the FATF. The new laws set up a financial intelligence unit to investigate allegations of money laundering and allow regulators to freeze questionable bank accounts for up to five days. In addition, the Proceeds Of Crime Law establishes guidelines for reporting and seizing suspects' and convicts' money and property. Another bill establishes the Financial Services Commission as the regulatory body over the country's financial sector.

The St. Kitts and Nevis delegation was led by Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Halva Hendrickson. Other members of the team were Ms Phraba Siewrattan, Director General of the Financial Services Department and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Robert Jeffers.

For its part, the Cayman Islands has issued money laundering regulations and enacted laws amending the Monetary Authority Law and the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Law. Amendments have also been made to its Banks and Trust Companies Law and the Companies Management Law. All of these have already been recognised by the FATF, but the organisation has made it clear that the 15 blacklisted jurisdictions are not out of the woods yet, having made no commitment to a date when they might be removed from the now infamous list.

Leading the Caymans delegation was Leader of Government Business, Kurt Tibbetts, together with DCI Brian Gibbs of the Caymans' Financial Reporting Unit.

At the time of writing, the upshot of the meeting is not yet known, but it is hoped that the FATF will be impressed. Both delegations went to the meeting determined to gain further recognition of their efforts and perhaps draw a step closer to knowing when they can expect to be removed from the list.

The results of the Review Group evaluation will go to the FATF plenary in late January 2001, for a decision to be taken on whether some offshore financial centres will finally be taken off the list.

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