‘We’ll use all legal powers to stop financial criminals’

INCREASED powers to seize ill-gotten cash and property are being worked on, the director of Guernsey’s new Economic and Financial Crime Bureau has said.

Kevin Davis, director of Guernsey's Economic and Financial Crime Bureau. (29688004)
Kevin Davis, director of Guernsey's Economic and Financial Crime Bureau. (29688004)

Kevin Davis, previously chief investigator for the UK Serious Fraud Office, said his new agency would use all legal remedies at its disposal as it takes on financial criminals and wrong-doers.

‘From the bureau’s perspective, it’s not just dealing with criminal investigations,’ he said. ‘We will be looking at civil remedies – particularly around cash seizure and the seizure and forfeiture of criminal property. That’s a really important aspect.

‘I’m working with law officer colleagues to actually strengthen the legislation around that to expand powers about what can be seized and liable to forfeiture from a civil perspective.’

One of the reasons this is important is because Guernsey gets a lot of requests from other jurisdictions saying: ‘We’ve investigated this, we’ve seen a big pot of money going into the coffers of institutions here because they’re laundering it. Can you do something about it?

‘So the bureau will look to be freezing for example the assets that are held here in Guernsey,’ said Mr Davis. ‘I must stress as well that very often the institutions have unwittingly received monies. And it’s no slight on the institutions themselves.

‘But there’s a lot of money here where it’s plain from the work of other jurisdictions that we need to take action – and the most expedient way of doing that is using civil remedies that are available.’

He also had a blunt message for wrong-doers who wanted to use Guernsey to ply their wares.

‘Guernsey is a really safe, good place to do business. The whole point of this is to make Guernsey as a jurisdiction a place that we can show is a real deterrent to wrong-doers and criminals. This is not a place that you’re welcome to do your business. And if you do and we catch you, and we will, then you will pay the penalty through the due legal process.’

Mr Davis added: ‘We don’t want your money. If you do that we’re going to take it from you and we’re going to prosecute you where the evidence allows us to, that’s really important. And use all the legal remedies at our disposal.’

The new bureau – which will be an independent entity – will also improve the collective capability of Guernsey given the need for collaboration and partnerships when it comes to taking on financial and economic crime, he added. Law Enforcement, the Law Officers of the Crown, the Guernsey Financial Services Commission and the Revenue Service will be key partners.

. Subject to the approval of funding from the Policy & Resources Committee, the bureau will have 53 staff – including staff already working in financial crime intelligence. There are already 30 posts established within the bureau. Eight of these established posts are currently vacant due to previous post holders having left and the roles are in the process of being filled.

It has been identified an additional 23 new posts are needed by the agency to improve the effectiveness of the island’s economic crime and anti-money laundering regime ahead of an inspection by Moneyval, Europe’s money-laundering watchdog, in 2023. These include, but are not limited to, economic crime lawyers, economic and financial crime investigators and a forensic accountant.

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