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Smuggling of cash and globalization


by the Financial Intelligence Unit Fri, Aug 12. 2011

The hallmark of the new millennium is the rapid increase in the globalization of crime. Criminals move as freely between countries as tourists do, leaving victims in one place, hiding criminal proceeds in another and taking up residence in a third.{{more}} A computer, a cell phone, Internet connection and bank accounts are tools that facilitate the transnational scams, fraud schemes, finance terrorism in one country with monies deriving from another and to launder the proceeds of multinational organized crime.

Criminals have little regard for political borders and revel in the notions of jurisdiction and national sovereignty, taking full advantage thereof. Criminals want to hide their proceeds of crime in order to pay expenses connected with their illicit activity, to invest in further illicit activity and simply to enjoy their profits. Laundering illicit funds accomplishes these goals. Criminals laundering their ill gotten gains seek to distance themselves from the ownership of the monies and disguise the commission of any predicate criminal activity from which the monies were derived. Once proceeds of crime move from one jurisdiction to another, it is difficult to track down and recover. Thus, money laundering is a high priority to law enforcement, regardless of what the underlying crime that generated the money might have been.

One aspect of international money laundering is smuggling of cash. Previously in the Bonnie and Clyde times, they kept their monies under a floorboard in the attic, or in the trunk of the car, and spent the cash as they needed it. Some criminals still adopt this approach. However, most criminals now have more sophisticated ways of handling proceeds of their crime, such as making investments, acquiring assets, and taking advantage of the international banking system, depositing monies into offshore accounts.

Criminals have the abiding desire to avoid creating a paper trail when law enforcement may be able to follow. Thus, they prefer to deal exclusively in cash. Therefore, criminals have contracted with other individuals to carry currency across borders by concealing the same in their luggage and on their person. In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and other jurisdictions, there is a limit on the amount of currency that one can bring into the country without declaration. Such a limit is EC$10,000.00 or its equivalent. Failure to declare EC$10,000.00 or its foreign equivalent is an offence under the Customs Control (Management) Act. Moreover, under the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering (Prevention) Act, once a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect the cash in the possession of a person is derived from or intended for use in criminal activity, then those monies can be seized pending further investigations.

Fast monies are enticing; making a drop is rewarding. However, at the end of the tunnel you will meet law enforcement personnel asking you to explain the source and intended purpose of the monies. The Financial Intelligence Unit urges the citizenry of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to stay on the side of the law.

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