Law firm register established

| 07/08/2019 | 13 Comments
Cayman News Service
(L-R) Finance Minister Roy McTaggart, Premier Alden McLaughlin, FRA Director Robert Berry, Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, Acting Solicitor General Reshma Sharma, CFATF Deputy Executive Director Carlos Acosta, National Coordinator for the Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group Elisabeth Lees, Commerce Ministry Chief Officer Alan Jones, Portfolio of the Civil Service Chief Officer Gloria McField-Nixon, Financial Services Ministry Chief Officer Dax Basdeo, CIMA Managing Director Cindy Scotland, and CIMA Senior Legal Counsel Angelina Partridge.

(CNS): All law firms and sole practitioners operating in Cayman must register with a new legal regulator before the end of this month, as government presses on with the job of meeting the latest international rules for the financial sector. The newly formed Cayman Attorneys Regulatory Authority (CARA) has begun to build its regulatory oversight framework, including the register, to help fight money laundering.

The Legal Associations Law, which came into effect in February, recognises the Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association (CILPA) as the self-regulatory body for the supervision of lawyers, which had formed CARA to supervise the functions and build the regulatory oversight framework, which will include the registration of law firms. CILPA has 546 members, about 80% of the lawyers working in this jurisdiction.

Registering all lawyers is just one of many developments in the offshore sector, as the Cayman Islands has until February to address the concerns raised by the most recent Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) review. That report identified risks and threats to numerous areas of the financial sector and related business, from real estate to precious metal brokers.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has spoken recently about the massive investment government is making in increasing regulation, and around a dozen pieces of legislation were steered through the LA last month to help shape the new regulatory regime. A significant amount of money will be spent on new staff across myriad government departments.

In a press release about the work government is doing to meet the ever-evolving landscape of international standards, requirements and rules, the government said the working relationships between local public and private sector agencies combatting money laundering and terrorist financing were growing stronger.

Cayman News Service
Elisabeth Lees

A newly appointed national coordinator for the Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group (AMLSG) is spearheading much of the work. Elisabeth Lees, a former senior crown counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, has spent the last few months working, along with the Anti-Money Laundering Unit, to coordinate action in the public sector to implement the recommendations in the CFATF report, while also reaching out to the private sector.

If Cayman fails to address weaknesses in its AML and terrorist financing regime, the FATF could impose a remediation plan to its detriment, officials said. The premier said the successful implementation of the CFATF recommendations requires continuous stakeholder engagement.

“The Cayman Islands has always worked hard to stay abreast of global regulatory measures,” he said, adding that the creation of an AML coordinator should improve coordination and communication across the local financial and commercial sectors with government and regulators.

At a recent meeting of relevant public and private sector organisations, the premier said that improving Cayman’s AML/CFT framework was a matter of national priority and all agencies needed to work together on behalf of the country to successfully implement the CFATF recommendations.

All public sector bodies involved in the CFATF response have begun making amendments to their processes and procedures to meet the February 2020 deadline, to ensure enhanced coordination and cooperation in relation to the jurisdiction’s AML/CFT regime. Self-Regulatory Bodies are also included in the coordination efforts and discussions with private stakeholders have included meetings with groups like the Cayman Islands Compliance Association.

The national coordinator is one of over 100 positions with roles to play in the AML/CFT fight that have been created, with funding allocated over the next few years. These positions were distributed between agencies such as the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Customs and Border Control, the Financial Reporting Authority (FRA) and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA).

A new working group that concentrates on fighting proliferation financing, or the financing of weapons of mass destruction, an area of focus in the CFATF report, has also been created. The working group aims to understand and mitigate proliferation finance risk.

Lees said Cayman had continued to work closely with CFATF since the report, with CFATF representatives visiting here and Cayman officials attending relevant meetings overseas.

Justine Plenkiewicz has also been appointed as deputy national coordinator overseeing the supervisory agencies.

Individuals with questions or who require specific information about the CFATF response should email their supervisor or

CNS news is free to read but not free to produce. Please consider supporting independent journalism in the Cayman Islands.

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Category: Business, Financial Services

Comments (13)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Concurrently, we have green-lit SEZ-domiciled Global Cryptocurrency Exchanges trading between 20+ fungible virtual currencies, to USD/paypal/VISA with just an active SMS to a burner SIM number for KYC and everyone’s okay with that. Millions in illicit physical gold from narco/embargoed despot sources are found transiting the Cayman Islands, like our worst nightmares, and only a single much-belated white-collar facilitator arrest and still no charges. What are they waiting for? RCIPS/WORC/FRA/CIMA are 20-30 years behind the bad actors. They didn’t understand what the CFATF report was saying then, and don’t know now. All the wrong messages are being sent. The worst part is that thousands of honest people are spending hundreds of work hours diligently documenting KYC and due dil files, while certain CFATF-identified segments carry-on, months later, entirely without adequate and/or competent supervision – or even interest in their business model.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shhhh. Incompetents might get exposed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Our Cabinet Ministers went to Hong Kong and boasted to attendees about our eagerness to lead the world in “fin-tech” sandbox regulation, which in hindsight, must mean Crypto-laundering, the favored obscured payment mechanism of global illicit commerce, including corrupt Chinese bribes and Oligarch hot-money. Know your audience! The headlines will continue to write themselves while our Cabinet and “regulators” sleep at the wheel, besmirching all the years of positive legitimate PCAMLCTF efforts by the honest and well-intentioned.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Typical CIG throw as much money into consultants bank account and hope to succeed. Well it ain’t going to happen this time.
    Grey list then when UK exit the EU black list, that table looks like the blind leading the ill educated

  3. Anonymous says:

    what about building contractors… thought that was supposed to happen too

  4. Anonymous says:

    To the extent some law firms continue to mislead over their ownership structures, and actively use unqualified persons to engage in providing legal advice, they may be illegal operations themselves! Who is policing that?

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