When we meet a new potential purchaser, we like to spend a bit of time getting to know them. Understanding their needs and aspirations is all part of our job, so we ask a few questions.
It’s rare, but we do find the odd client who is concerned when we include requests for ID and personal details. On the surface, their logic seems fine – they are the customer, and we should be running around looking after their interests. Why are we expecting them to give us proof of their address and providing copies of their passport? If only it were that simple.
We’re not acting like this because we’re mad keen on bureaucracy. And it’s not because we have plans to store personal info as part of a huge marketing campaign. We’re simply following anti-money-laundering regulations as required by the Cayman Islands Government.
Now, when I started to study the real estate business, my only knowledge of money laundering came from novels. Perhaps I was naïve, but I didn’t expect that in a few years’ time, I would be helping to prevent the proceeds of criminal activities being ‘cleaned-up’ via a property transaction. Our policy of getting to know our clients, validating their ID and checking that there’s a bank statement to support the declared source of funds is legitimate business. Money laundering isn’t.
In this area, the Cayman Islands already had a tough regime, and this year, it’s got tougher. What’s more, the Department of Commerce and Investment will shortly be starting to inspect businesses like ours to ensure we’re doing our bit. It’s not just real estate that’s getting extra attention, either. Jewellers will also be coming under scrutiny as the Financial Action Task Force starts its work.
Our Code of Practice
We’re already working to a strict code of practice and going beyond what the regulations require, so we’re not worried. But neither are we complacent – the methods of criminal gangs and terror groups are always evolving. National boundaries and our island status count for little in the connected digital age. It is, therefore, vital that everyone who cares about our position and Cayman’s reputation in the global economy alerts the authorities when they encounter any suspicious activity.
When you come to see us about a property, we’ll ask you questions. You may think we’re being a bit nosey, but we’re not. We’re making a small contribution to the fight against crime and we make no apologies for that.
To learn more about the revision to Cayman’s Proceeds of Crime legislation, click here.