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Rajcoomar launches book on money laundering
Prominent attorney Ravi Rajcoomar has authored an extremely valuable publication on a subject that is of serious concern not only to Trinidad and Tobago but the international community—money laundering.
Recently launched in Port-of-Spain, A Guide To Money Laundering—Law and Regulation gives a comprehensive picture of what law enforcement agencies at home and abroad have done and are doing to combat this universal scourge which has devastating effects on the economies of countries, particularly small states like T&T.
Rajcoomar—who has featured in several high-profile cases in this country such as the Dole Chadee murders—has a writing style that is clear and concise, making it easily understood and absorbed by legal practitioners, law students and members of the general public.
Karl Hudson-Phillips, QC, in the publication’s foreword, which the author has dedicated to his wife Alison and their four children, states in part:
“Money Laundering Law and Regulation in Trinidad and Tobago is a useful manual of the current law in Trinidad and Tobago concerning the proceeds of crime. “It should be a useful vade mecum (easy reference) for all practitioners to use ‘on your legs’. It is also an invaluable introduction to the law of the proceeds of crime and should be prescribed reading for students as an introduction to that area of the law.”
The 285-page book which is available at The Book Specialists in Port-of-Spain, opens with an outline of the measures adopted by the United Nations since 1988 to deal with the criminalisation of money laundering. These include the UN Conventions against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Vienna Convention) and the UN Conventions against Transnational Organised Crime 2000 (Palermo Convention).
These conventions, Rajcoomar explained, led to the formation of the Financial Action Task Force of which T&T is a signatory, and which was in response to the global need to prevent crime and the growing menace of money laundering. In an interview at his home recently, Rajcoomar, a very unassuming but talented practitioner, explained it began with research he did for the Law Association, especially in the areas of corruption and fraud.
“I found that the whole world seemed to be going toward a common front in the fight against white collar crime and corruption. “I also found that internationally, including Trinidad and Tobago, this was a serious problem facing nations. I discovered that in the early 2000 it was worth US$600 billion a year worldwide, including T&T.
“In July of this year, for example, two local banks were the subject of money laundering...millions of dollars passed through here.” Reiterating this is a serious problem in this country, Rajcoomar agreed it was already affecting our economy.
He said, “I think we reached that stage some time ago and it was recently recognised with an amendment to the Poca (Proceeds of Crime Act), when the offences were increased to include not only drug and terrorism offences but to all serious indictable offences.”
Also agreeing that money laundering was primarily conducted at the upper levels of society, he further explained that this was a three-stage enterprise—first, finding a way to get the dirty money into the system; secondly, the funds were layered where it cannot be traced; and thirdly, cleaning it back to the original owner.
Rajcoomar explained that not all companies, especially banks, would readily smell money laundering transactions unless there were red flags. Rajcoomar, who pioneered several domestic legal initiatives, lectured at the Sir High Wooding law School and is a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Securities Commission, said the book was aimed primarily at legal practitioners but was written so that the average man could benefit from its publication.
Research for the book which was completed in less than two years was done locally, regionally and internationally. The book deals with the whole scenario regarding money laundering and its legal implications, such as offences, penalties, corporate liability, regulations and legislation (in its entirety), financial institutions, the Central Bank and the Trinidad Tobago Securities Exchange Commission.
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