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Dopwell sentenced for money laundering

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This country has recorded its first sentencing of a convicted money launderer.

Business operator of Paul’s Avenue, Ricardo Dopwell was sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment on Wednesday February 2007 at the Serious Offences Court.{{more}}

Dopwell was convicted in March 2006 in the same court for concealing the proceeds of criminal conduct, for unlawful possession and drug trafficking offences. His sentence was deferred from the Magistrate’s Court pending a confiscation hearing at the High Court. This was to determine whether he had benefited financially from criminal conduct, which the Court found that he had. A confiscation order was therefore made against certain property owned by him.

Although Dopwell is the first to be sentenced under the anti-money laundering legislation, he is not the first to have property derived from criminal conduct confiscated under the act. According to a release from the FIU, there have also been numerous forteitures.

Speaking with SEARCHLIGHT, Prosecutor in the matter, Grenville Williams said that money launderers generate a lot of income from illegal activities, which significantly influence legitimate businesses and drive them out of operation.

“The ability to keep money derived from criminal conduct also encourages illegal activities as a result of financial benefits derived.”

Williams stated that any person who has been sent to prison for money laundering cannot now come back to reap the fruits of their illegal earnings. “No longer can people benefit from criminal conduct, serve a sentence and enjoy the spoils of criminal conduct,” Williams said. He mentioned that in addition to serving a sentence, any property would be forfeited or confiscated failing to pay a confiscation order.

A release from the FIU notes that St. Vincent and the Grenadines “remains a forerunner in the Caribbean to have successfully prosecuted money laundering as an offence.” Director of the FIU, Sharda Sinanan Bollers attributes the FIU’S success to the commitment, dedication and talent of the staff. With the aim of the FIU being, “To take the profit out of crime,” Bollers said that FIU is a mixed model as they operate on an administrative, investigative and prosecutory level. She said that they work closely with other law enforcement agencies such as the Narcotics Unit, Customs Department and the Attorney General’s Office among others.

Since 2002 a total of four money-laundering convictions have been secured.

At present there are several pending matters for forfeiture and money laundering before the court.

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