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Laws to catch white-collar criminals coming soon

Published: 
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Attorney General Faris-Al Rawi has vowed to roll out a “number of reforms” that will not require a three-fifths majority to be passed in Parliament soon, saying “enough is enough” and the country’s laws need to start working for citizens who have been expressing concern about crime, corruption and fraud.

Al-Rawi put down his foot yesterday while delivering the feature address at the Association of Real Estate Agents (AREA) breakfast meeting on the fight against anti-money laundering and financing terrorism at the Government Campus, Port-of-Spain.

Also attending the function were AREA’s president Sally Singh, economist Roger Hosein and director of the Financial Intelligence Unit Susan Francois, who spoke briefly.

In her address, Singh called on the AG to draft legislation against those who are not registered with AREA, saying such individuals continue to facilitate illicit acts such as tax evasion and fraud and renders it extremely difficult to curtail crimes such as money laundering, funding of terrorists and criminal activity.

In response, Al-Rawi promised that “this year” legislation will be put in place to regulate real estate agents and its industry. He said such legislation will fit perfectly into the “crime and profits and proceeds of crime legislation,” which will have an impact on cash, businesses and property.

“You are going to see a combination of events. On the Order Paper in Parliament right now, there four significant pieces of law...there are reforms to the 2000 land package. It’s a new compulsory system for registration of land. You are going to get a package in a couple of weeks...which is a compulsory mechanism to register beneficial ownership in companies and a mechanism which completely renovates the way in which property is transferred, given or sold in this country.”

He said properties would refer to land, motor vehicles and buildings.

This would require the State to take GPS, land title information and physical surveys to come up with one title instrument for State and private lands. This will first begin as a pilot project in Tobago, Al-Rawi said.

“The international funding has been secured to the tune of US$7 million to start in Tobago.”

Apart from the land package, Al-Rawi said another batch of legislation was coming.

Al-Rawi said the owner, agent, vendor and purchaser who registers a deed of a property must be accountable. The AG also assured that all areas of conveyancing, litigation and money laundering will be plugged.