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Cayman real estate agents and property developers have until 29 May 2019 for AML registration

22 March 2019

A Special Notice published by the Cayman Islands (‘Cayman’) Department of Commerce and Investment (‘DCI’) informs Real Estate Agents and Property Developers that under the Anti-Money Laundering (Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations (‘AML Regulations’) they must register with the DCI as soon as possible. The Special Notice gives a deadline of 29 May 2019 for applications.

Why register with the DCI?
The DCI has been designated as the Supervisory Authority under the AML Regulations for Real Estate for Anti-Money Laundering (‘AML’) and Counter the Financing of Terrorism (‘CFT’). As such it is responsible for ensuring every person who carries on or intends to carry on business in Real Estate or as Dealers in Cayman complies with their AML/CFT obligations.

Since when has this been necessary?
The registration process is part of the continuing enhancement of the Cayman AML Regime. At the end of 2017 the AML Regulations were issued to include Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions (‘DNFB’) in that regime. Other bodies were designated as being responsible for the compliance of professionals such as accountants, but the DCI was made responsible for both Real Estate and Dealers. Every person who carries on, or intends to carry on, business in Real Estate or as Dealers must apply to register with the DCI as soon as possible.  

What is the registration process?
The AML Regulations provide that Supervisory Authorities can issue guidance and develop a registration procedure in order to be able to monitor DNFBPs. The DCI has prepared a form for use by both Real Estate and Dealers under its supervision (available here).The form is also available at the DCI counter at the Government Administration building. Further information is also available on the DCI website.

What is in the form?
There are general questions on the type of and ownership and management of each business as well as questions designed to help the DCI assess risk and vulnerabilities in the business sectors of Real Estate and Dealers. These include questions about each business’s implementation of an AML/CFT regime, the training and appointment of its relevant personnel, details of any outsourcing and a declaration that the form has been completed in full.

What if a Business is not registered?
As the Supervisory Authority for Real Estate the DCI can impose fines for breaches of the AML Regulations of up to CI$100,000 for natural persons or up to CI$250,000 for legal persons.

Does the DCI have other powers?
The DCI has wide powers to ask for information and inspect premises, subject to restrictions, such as the DCI has to explain why it wants the information and it must be reasonably required, not legal privileged or among documents identified as Restricted in the AML Regulations. Where it considers it in the public interest to do so, the Supervisory Authority may issue a public statement in such manner as it considers fit with respect to:

  • any person that it has reasonable grounds to believe is carrying on, has carried on, or is likely to carry on business as a DNFBP without being registered; and
  • any matter relating to the risks of money laundering or terrorist financing by a DNFBP or former DNFBP.

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