Sunday, April 14, 2024

Suspicious transactions ‘need more attention’

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 THERE IS A SUGGESTION that law-enforcement and regulatory officials here may not be carrying out sufficient investigations and prosecuting people reported to the Financial Intelligence Unit of Barbados (FIU) for suspicious transactions.
In addition, Eamon Kearney, a member of the Eastern Caribbean financial advisory team, has questioned why current legislation did not allow confiscating the assets of criminals in Barbados.
Kearney articulated his reservations during the eighth Anti Money Laundering And Combating The Financing Of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Compliance Conference at Frank Collymore Hall last Thursday.
The number of suspicious transaction reports (STR) made to the FIU moved from 29 in 2003 to 138 in 2008. Figures for the last four years have not yet been made public.
After STRs are made to the FIU it is up to the Financial Investigations Unit of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) to carry out the necessary investigations.
However, Kearney said: “There have been very few money-laundering investigations [and] even fewer money-laundering prosecutions here in Barbados. Perhaps there is no money-laundering taking place here in Barbados. I will leave you to be the judge of that.
“Legislation is just the first step. It is pointless enacting legislation if you are not going to enforce it,” he added.
 Kearney said the information reported was not being acted on as it should and “we should ask ourselves why not”.
“This could be an indicator that the system is working. I also contend it is an indicator of failure because it could be that more suspicious activities are taking place in Barbados. Is Barbados therefore attracting more dirty money as no remedial action is being taken?”
Speaking on The Impact Of The Proceeds Of Crime Act And The MLFTA (2011), Kearney said: “Barbados is one of the few jurisdictions in the region that doesn’t have the ability to seize criminal cash, take criminal cash out of the economy, which most of the other jurisdictions have. That seizure of cash can be dealt with civilly rather than criminally.”
He argued that funds seized from criminals could go toward the training of staff and development of various projects in law-enforcement agencies and other departments involved in the investigations.
He also called for close partnership between those giving the STRs, those receiving it, as well as those involved in the investigations so as to have an “effective financial intelligence and investigation environment”.

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