Published 29th August 2019, 11:30am
In May of this year the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control (CBC) commenced a joint investigation into suspected money laundering and the smuggling of doré gold by international organised crime networks through the Cayman Islands and other jurisdictions to Europe.
The circumstances are that the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control detected suspicious activities and movements by a private aircraft in May, and intercepted the plane while it was at Owen Roberts International Airport. Four Venezuelan nationals were arrested and the plane was seized and impounded. When searched, a large quantity of cash was found secreted away inside the plane. All four of the foreign nationals have now been charged with the criminal offences of Engaging in Smuggling, and two have been additionally charged with Money Laundering. All four of the men charged stand remanded before the Magistrate’s Court of the Cayman Islands awaiting trial.
The investigation established that two consignments of doré gold had transited the Cayman Islands en route to the United Kingdom. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control requested the assistance of the UK National Crime Agency to intercept the shipments. Both shipments were subsequently confiscated by UK authorities and have now been formally seized by court order under the UK Proceeds of Crime Act.
The joint Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control investigation is ongoing and has now established links with international law enforcement in the US and Panama as well as the UK. This multi-jurisdictional investigation is expected to be complex and lengthy.
“The disruption of criminal asset flows and international money laundering activity is a powerful way to fight organised crime networks,” said Derek Byrne, Commissioner of Police, “and we are committed to preventing such asset flows through the jurisdiction of the Cayman Islands. Close and mutual cooperation with international law enforcement as demonstrated in this case is absolutely essential to the reach and effectiveness of our collective efforts.”