Anti-money laundering workshop held for jewelers, real estate companies

Anti-money laundering workshop held for jewelers, real estate companies
Anti-money laundering workshop held for jewelers, real estate companies

With the Financial Action Task Force set to evaluate Cayman’s safeguards against money laundering and terrorist financing in less than two months, the Department of Commerce and Investment held a workshop on Thursday to let designated non-financial businesses know their reporting obligations.

While designated businesses – such as real estate firms and jewelry stores, which are non-financial but nevertheless susceptible to money laundering – have always technically been subject to anti-money laundering rules, they have never had a government agency to report to until March, when the Department of Commerce and Investment was made their regulator, according to DCI Head of Compliance Claudia Brady.

Now that the department is regulating designated non-financial businesses for the purposes of anti-money laundering, Ms. Brady said at Thursday’s workshop that inspections will soon be made to check whether those businesses have proper prevention measures in place.

Businesses should have a written internal process for detecting and reporting suspicious transactions, evidence that they trained their staff on such processes, know-your-client documentation, and evidence that they have filed suspicious activity reports, she said.

If companies do not have that documentation, the Department of Commerce and Investment may conduct onsite inspections and review their documents, she said.

Ms. Brady added that her department will soon issue a handbook on the specifics of becoming compliant, and that businesses still have time to implement their internal procedures and become compliant with the anti-money laundering regulations.

“We won’t just turn up at your door. We’re going to give you notice – maybe three weeks, a month, or two months so you have time to prepare,” she said. “We appreciate the fact that you’re a business, and we don’t want to disrupt your business.”

Francis Arana, the director of the Anti-Money Laundering Unit, also spoke at the workshop, stressing the importance of designated businesses becoming compliant with anti-money laundering rules for the reputation of the territory.

The previous three FATF evaluations basically checked to see whether Cayman had the proper anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing legislative framework in place. This next evaluation will go beyond that scope, checking to see whether the legislative framework is actually being followed in practice, Mr. Arana explained.

“That’s where you come in,” he told the workshop attendees, adding that FATF evaluators will be speaking to a “sample” of non-financial businesses in December to see if their procedures meet international standards.

FATF evaluators will be on island from Dec. 4-15, according to Mr. Arana.

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