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Francois: FIU not responsible for investigating her sister’s murder
Financial Intelligence Unit director Susan Francois has distanced herself from reports that the organisation she heads will be more responsible for a clampdown on criminal activity. Francois, in a brief telephone interview yesterday, said the lead story of a daily newspaper which quoted comments from Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar seemed to suggest that as FIU director, she had the power to investigate the murder of her sister Dana Seetahal.
Francois spoke in hushed tones, her voice sounding raw with emotion as she initially said she “had not yet processed this entire thing.” Later, however, Francois said the FIU was not responsible for investigating her sister’s murder. “It is not the responsibility of the Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate crime, and it is not my responsibility to investigate the murder of my sister,” Francois said.
Seetahal, a prominent state prosecutor was gunned down in Woodbrook just after midnight early last Sunday morning in an apparent assassination. There was no reported attempts of robbery, as the killers shot her five times through her Volkswagen Toureg SUV front window and escaped. Seetahal’s funeral service took place on Thursday amid much tears and grief for the much-loved and admired senior counsel.
In published reports, Ramadhar was quoted as saying the Legislative Review Committee was working to modernise the FIU to give it more teeth. But a still shaken Francois remained firm on the duties of the FIU. “The FIU gathers intelligence on financial matters and refers suspicious activity to the police, the Board of Inland Revenue, the Comptroller of Customs and the Chief Immigration Officer,” she said.
Ramadhar described the timing of the upgraded FIU duties as “stars aligning,” but there is speculation that such a move could put Francois in danger. National Security Minister Gary Griffith refused to comment on the issue of security for Francois in light on this development. “I would not make a statement on that, security for private citizens is in the strictest of confidence and you can appreciate that this is a highly sensitive issue,” Griffith said.