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More than $1.3b in suspicious deals but none convicted
Although more than $1.3 billion in suspicious transactions have been reported by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in the past three years, no one has been convicted with white collar crime. Former FIU head David West made this statement during his presentation at the White Collar Crime Forum which was part of the third Caribbean Public Procurement Conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, on Friday.
West said the FIU reported $263 million of suspicious transactions in 2010 and $569 million in 2011. For the first half of 2012, he said, $500 million of suspicious transactions have already been reported. According to West, in the 2010-2011 FIU report of more than 400 suspicious transactions, 313 were still being analysed while 60 had ongoing investigations.
Among the many obstacles to prosecuting white collar crime locally was the decision that FIU be an administrative organisation rather than a law enforcement body, said West. He added that the FIU needed to be politically independent saying it was regrettable that the organisation was dependent on Government approval for spending.
In addition to the need for civil assets forfeiture and whistle-blower legislation, West said a lack of public prosecutors and the low salaries paid to them were also challenges to prosecuting white collar crime. West also pointed out that T&T meets the compliance requirements of the inter-governmental body, Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The FATF released findings of a plenary meeting on Friday. According to FATF, T&T is no longer subject to the monitoring process but implementation of legislation is lacking.
West was accompanied on the panel by Stephon Grey, president of the Caribbean Institute of Forensic Accounting, Ravi Rajcoomar, Gilbert Peterson SC, Assistant Commissioner of Police Glen Hackett and Renee Cummings. Karl Hudson Phillip, QC and DPP Roger Gaspard were scheduled to attend but did not.
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