British detectives seconded to FBI

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(First Edition)

BRITAIN and the United States last night signed a deal in Washington to allow two Scotland Yard detectives to work inside the Federal Bureau of Investigation, writes Heather Mills.

The move is part of an international effort to tackle burgeoning fraud and money laundering in Britain's Caribbean dependent islands - Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Montserrat - long regarded as a haven for white-collar criminals.

The islands' tourism and banking based economies have made them ideal targets for money crime. British and American authorities are aware of 50 cases where investors - usually American and British - are alleged to have been defrauded of large sums.

One allegedly involved fraudsters using worthless shares lodged in a London bank to secure credit to launch an insurance company in the US, where they could insure up to four times the value of their declared assets.

While most of the investigations have been carried out by FBI officers, they have no jurisdiction on the Islands. However, the two British detectives, both with experience in international fraud investigations, will have the power to investigate.

Yesterday, announcing the signing of the 'Memorandum of Understanding', Mark Lennox-Boyd, the Foreign Office minister, said the aims were threefold - to clear up existing cases, to discourage further crime and to advise the island police forces on the complexity of fraud inquiries.

The officers will be attached to the British Consulate in Miami. The cost of their operations to the UK government will be about pounds 250,000 a year.