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31 March 2000
United Nations Offshore Forum Concludes: Delegates Reach Broad Agreement on Proposed Minimum Standards to Combat Money Laundering


Cayman Islands - 31 March 2000 - The two-day United Nations Offshore Forum, hosted jointly by the U. N. Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) and the Government of the Cayman Islands, concluded successfully today. The Forum is an anti-money laundering initiative whose objective is to obtain global commitment to internationally accepted standards of anti-money laundering measures as they apply to cross-border financial services.

One hundred participants from 37 jurisdictions, and several observer countries, attended the event, and expressed support for the ODCCP objectives of denying criminals access to global financial markets. Delegates agreed that all international financial services centres should be invited to enter - as soon as possible, and no later than 30 September 2000 - into a formal governmental commitment to the U. N. Offshore Forum proposed minimum standards.

Delegates agreed to a series of principles, including:

  • That there should be proper recognition of the positive action already taken or being taken by the many individual jurisdictions participating in the Forum.
  • That there be no sanction imposed on individual jurisdictions for non-compliance with the accepted international standards in advance of a full, fair transparent and consultative process of evaluation; and unless sufficient opportunity has been provided to make good any deficiencies identified.
  • In the provision of cross-border financial services, no distinction should be drawn between the so-called on-shore and off-shore jurisdictions, but between those that are compliant and those that are non-compliant in the application of the accepted international standards.

"The consensus reached today represents a groundbreaking step in the global fight against money laundering," said Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the ODCCP. "I strongly believe that as we move forward together, we can make rapid progress in denying access to criminals seeking to legitimise proceeds from illicit activities."

An important commitment from the ODCCP to jurisdictions supporting the minimum standards will be the provision of technical assistance and research programmes designed to assist them in their efforts. While jurisdictions differ in their size and available reserves, the timetable for achieving compliance will not necessarily be the same for all. Delegates further agreed that jurisdictions should seek to prevent financial services providers from promoting availability of lower regulatory standards in any one jurisdiction.

It was also recognised that there should be no barriers to the exchange of information necessary for effective financial regulation and anti-money laundering measures to be exercised on a global basis. In addition, seized assets sharing agreements can be a strong incentive for cooperation in the pursuit of those engaged in financial crime.

"As a leading international financial centre, we were proud to co-sponsor and host the Forum", said George McCarthy, Financial Secretary for the Cayman Islands. "We believe that this exercise can only serve to demonstrate our continuing commitment to promoting and implementing a well-regulated financial services sector for quality investors."

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Note to editors: For further information, please contact Sandro Tucci, Spokesman for the ODCCP Executive Director at (43-1) 26060 5629. A complete list of delegates to the Forum, the official Communiqué and Minimum Standards document are also available.


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