2016 November: The Cook Islands is complying with its international obligations in relation to anti money laundering and the countering of terrorist financing and transparency and the exchange of financial information to combat tax evasion. It continues to work with international organisations such as the FATF and the OECD as it is committed to providing financial services in accordance with international standards and best practice.
The following summarises the Cook Islands achievements to date in meeting international regulatory standards.
1. FATF Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorist Financing
2009 – Mutual Evaluation Report on Anti Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism carried out by Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (an FATF style regional body) and the Offshore Group of Banking Supervisors.
Rounds of Mutual Evaluations have been carried out on 166 countries to determine compliance with the FATF recommendations for combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The Cook Islands 2nd Round report was published in July 2009 and showed the Cook Islands at that time to be in the top 20% of countries in the world for implementing international regulatory AML/CTF standards. The Cook Islands next Mutual Evaluation is due in 2017.
The Cook Islands Financial Intelligence Unit is an independent unit within the Cook Islands Financial Service Commission dedicated to collecting, analysing and disseminating financial information and intelligence on suspected money laundering, the financing of terrorist activities and other serious offenses to the appropriate authorities in the Cook Islands and internationally.
2. Transparency and the Exchange of Information
OECD Global Tax Transparency Forum Phase 2 Peer Review
The Cook Islands is a member of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The Cook Islands phase 2 peer review (published in March 2015) judged the Cook Islands to be “largely compliant”. Phase 2 peer reviews check that a jurisdiction is actually following the tax transparency practices set out in its legislative framework and in international agreements for exchange of information on request (“EOIR”). As of July 2016, 22 jurisdictions were deemed fully compliant, 67 largely compliant and 12 partially compliant. 22 jurisdictions have yet to progress from the Phase 1 review due to non-compliance with OECD standards.