ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday disclosed that some 77 money laundering matters remain unresolved in this country’s courts. Al-Rawi made this disclosure as he opened debate on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, Proceeds of Crime, FIU of TT, Customs and Exchange Control) Bill, 2017 in the Senate. He said some 359 charges have been laid in these matters which have not been completed to date. Al-Rawi said some of these matters started as far back as 2012.
Noting several of these matters were laid indictably, Al-Rawi said the legislation proposes to amend the law to treat these cases either as indictable or summary matters. He also described other provisions in the bill being of “nuclear proportion” in amending the concept of criminal property and money laundering in the Proceeds of Crime Act. Reiterating that following the money is one of the most effective strategies to fight crime in TT, Al-Rawi said the offence of money laundering is central to this because it anchors into several other crimes.
He said these include financing of terrorism, terrorism activities, cartel like behaviour and “white collar, blue collar, brown collar corruption.” Al-Rawi referred to the Financial Intelligence Unit’s (FIU) 2017 Annual Report which, “revealed that 251 citizens of TT are suspected in being involved in the financing of terrorism and related offences.”
The FIU also reported over $22 billion in suspected proceeds of criminal conduct last year. Al-Rawi said the bill would empower the FIU to act on its own initiative if necessary. He also said a post audit proposal would help in dealing with potential inefficiencies in the Customs Division which could result in certain contraband items entering the country. He said while TT is not seconding its sovereignty, this country must recognise the challenges which money laundering and financing of terrorism poses to the financial sector.