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Clampdown on money laundering paying off

Clampdown on money laundering paying off

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A catamaran purchased with “dirty money” was recently seized and sold by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and St Vincent and the Grenadines got half of the proceeds.

US Ambassador, Mary Kramer, flew over from Barbados this past week and presented Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves with a cheque for US$77,000 (EC$207,900) demonstrating that drug dealers will pay heavily for their crimes.

The cheque was half of the US$154,000 for which it was sold by the Americans.{{more}}

St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) cooperated with the Americans in the seizure and sale of the 55-foot catamaran which was formerly owned by a US drug dealer who was convicted for a cocktail of devious deeds including murder, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and kidnapping. He later died of natural causes in the custody of US law enforcement authorities.

The outgoing Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mary Kramer, complemented the FIU and challenged the Government to make sure that it continues to develop a transparent and open financial system.

“In that way you attract the capital and financial business and things you want to do to attract economic growth,” Kramer explained.

She said that financial transparency was important to business investors who want to know that they are investing in a country with a secure financial sector.

“These people don’t want to play in a place where they do not trust the security of the financial sector,” Kramer said.

Prime Minister Gonsalves said that St Vincent and the Grenadines shares a very sound relationship with the United States in which they work together in a range of areas including the fight against terrorism and the financing of terrorism.

Since its formation in May of 2002 the FIU has been a thorn in the flesh of drug dealers, forcing them to tread more cautiously, limiting the amount of financial hiding dens available to them to conceal their blood money. Its mandate was to take the profit out of crime by creating an hostile financial environment.

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