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FIU cashes in on money launderers

FIU cashes in on money launderers

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It has often been repeated that ‘crime doesn’t pay.’ No matter how imperceptible the offence may be, those wishing to acquire riches by illegal means will find the long arm of the law descending on them.

That’s how the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has been operating. And they appear to be achieving some success.

The cases of Ricardo Dopwell and Charles Constance were highlighted in last week’s edition of the Searchlight newspaper Thursday, April 13, page 37. The information of their activity came from the FIU.{{more}}

Dopwell was found guilty of concealing EC$31,895, which directly or indirectly represented his proceeds of criminal conduct. His indictment was on March 16, 2006.

Constance was convicted of laundering US24,870, or EC$66,400.

THE Financial Inteligence Unit (FIU), encouraged by their success, seems to have intensified their activities.

The most recent person to come under FIU dragnet is Curtis Lewis of Lewis Auto World at Cane Garden.

He pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a production order and failing to comply with the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering regulations.

Lewis was fined $10,000 altogether, ($5,000 on each count) on Wednesday.

He has one month in which to pay the fine. Lawyer Richard Williams represented Lewis.

The matters were dealt with summarily at the Serious Offenses Court with Grenville Williams, FIU’s Legal and Training Officer and Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams making up the Prosecution team for some cases, and Grenville Williams prosecuting on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions in others.

Grenville attributes the progress being made to “continuous investigations by the trained financial officers of the FIU in conjunction with the Narcotics unit, along with the Director of Public Prosecutions.”

The FIU Legal and Training Officer pointed to “investigations on going for a while.”

He conceded that “money laundering, unlike regular crime, is very difficult to prosecute.”

Williams also disclosed the forfeiture of EC $18,700 and US $3,000, resulting from a matter in the civil jurisdiction of the Serious Offenses Court. Those amounts were seized from Antiguan-born hairdresser Latricia Hilton.

She failed to declare the money when she arrived at the E.T. Joshua airport at Arnos Vale, St. Vincent in 2004.

The court deemed that the money was either the proceeds of criminal conduct or intended to be used in criminal conduct.

The currency was found in a pair of jeans pants in her suitcase. That was the second time that Hilton was nabbed at the E.T. Joshua airport. The Customs seized $10,000 from her in a previous action.

Hilton was not present for the hearing but was represented by lawyer Ronald Marks. She is described as a member of the Green House Posse dubbed as Drug peddlers in Antigua.

Last Tuesday, April 18, Kenjah Wilson-Archibald, of Campden Park had to let go of Euro 3,020. He pleaded guilty when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Churaman.

Wilson-Archibald mounted his own defence. The money was found on his person at his home following a mission by the authorities. Chief Magistrate Simone Churaman again presided over the matters.

Williams pledged his institution’s commitment to the maintenance of law and order.

“The FIU in conjunction with all law enforcement authorities will continue to work conscientiously to take the profit out of crime and hit the criminals where it hurts most – in their pocket,” he stated.

Williams is urging “all civic minded citizens to provide useful information which may assist in the successful prosecution of those involved in criminal conduct.”

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