You are here
We have to go after the ‘Mr Bigs’ in crime
National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to go after the “Mr Bigs” in the local drug trade. “We have to go beyond the little boys on the block and find those who pull the strings, the ‘Mr Bigs,’” Warner said during his contribution to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Anti-Terrorism Bill in Parliament yesterday. Despite criticisms from the Opposition, the bill was unanimously passed in the Lower House.
Quoting from the United Nations 2011 World Drug Report, the minister said US$6 billion comes to the Caribbean (annually) for laundering. Noting that the organised crime and gun trade is all about making money, he said, “No gunrunner could stay in business if he can’t make money or spend it. The solution, therefore, is to block him from making money and, if he escapes, to prevent him from spending it,” Warner said.
He said as far back as 2002, the Caribbean Regional Task Force on Crime and Security identified T&T as a country with an emerging arms and organised crime trade. “It’s no longer emerging. It’s here,” Warner said. “If the previous government didn’t care, we do. We have to fix it and carry the fight against crime to all parts of the country.” He said the FIU Bill is a measure to make it more difficult for criminals to participate in organised crime and to do business.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan responded to charges from the Opposition that the Government had been dragging its feet on money-laundering legislation over the last two years. The truth of the matter is that the FIU Bill was under continuous review, he said. Turning the heat back on the Opposition, he said it was previous PNM administrations that left the FIU in a precarious state and caused T&T to be on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s blacklist as a money-laundering country.
The FATF is an intergovernmental organisation, an initiative of the G-7 group of countries, which was founded in 1989 to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. The FATF blacklist is the common description for countries perceived to be non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. “When you pointing your finger, you have four others pointing back at you,” Ramlogan told the Opposition.
He said it was the PNM that dragged its feet on the matter for eight years. T&T has been a member of the Caribbean FATF (CFATF) since 1992 and recommendations were made during that time to combat money laundering but nothing was done by the T&T government, Ramlogan said. It was in 2009, seven years after, that the FIU Act was passed but no one was appointed to it. He noted that T&T has moved from the blacklist to a “grey list,” with a condition to fast-track compliance efforts.
He said this is not unique to T&T since there are 40 other countries on the grey list. Further, in the space of less than a year the People’s Partnership Government brought two amendments to the FIU Bill, Ramlogan said.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.