A more efficient criminal justice system in the Cayman Islands will help to tackle the threat serious financial crime and money laundering pose to the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service has said, after deploying one of its senior lawyers to assess the world’s fifth-largest banking centre.
The CPS’s criminal justice adviser, Claire Wetton, was deployed to the British overseas territory to ‘identify and deliver sustainable solutions and improvements’ for a more ‘efficient’ and ‘effective’ criminal justice system.
The CJA’s report, published by the CPS and Foreign & Commonwealth Office, states that an improvement in ‘prosecutorial capacity generally but particularly that relating to serious financial crime, money laundering, asset recovery and drug trafficking’ was of benefit to the governments of the Cayman Islands and the UK.
‘Criminal activity that poses a threat to UK interests and has the potential to have an adverse impact on the financial service industry needs to be addressed effectively,’ the report says.
According to the International Monetary Fund, any financial centre faces a money-laundering risk.
Offshore centres face a ‘particular heightened risk’ because of the ’incorrect but still common assumption that the local authorities are prepared to turn a blind eye to such behaviour and the fact that most of the customers are remote from the banks with which they do business’.
Recommendations made by Wetton include adopting and implementing ‘proactive, purposeful’ case-management systems within the police, prosecution and courts to ‘reduce delay, improve access to justice for victims and witnesses, and assist considerably in the prosecution of serious organised crime and financial crime’.
Wetton found that the police and prosecution often worked in silos, which in turn affected the court process, causing delays and adjournments.
Wetton identified a need for ‘robust charging’ as well as ‘front loading’ a file prior to charge, ‘so that the prosecution are in a position to proceed with the case once at court, reducing the need for an adjournment for key evidence to be obtained’.
Wetton said the work commenced in the Cayman Islands ‘provides a basis for further criminal justice reform’ but ‘how this should be developed and whether it may be part of a wider approach encompassing other overseas territories is of course a matter for others’.