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Financial Intelligence Unit praised by regional body

Financial Intelligence Unit praised by regional body

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This country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has come in for high praise by a regional regulatory body. The recognition came on Monday, from Eamon Kearney, director at the Caribbean Criminal Assets Recovery Programme (CCARP),{{more}} as the FIU and CCARP came together at the Central Planning Division conference room, to announce a secondary schools’ poster competition.

Kearney stated that his United Kingdom funded organization commended the local body for its approach to asset confiscation, which he said is becoming an integral part of the justice process in the region.

“Let me say here and now, that St Vincent and the Grenadines has an FIU to be proud of, excellently led by Mr Williams, with a dedicated staff, fully supported by the government.

“It is the leading financial investigating unit in the Eastern Caribbean, and is up there with the best in the wider Caribbean.”

Kearny said that although the local FIU is ahead of many others in the region, there is still room for improvement, and more work to be done in the organization’s fight against crime.

Kearney outlined a number of reasons asset recovery is important to the justice system.

Though focussing heavily on drug crimes, Kearny pointed out that asset recovery laws are geared for any criminal activity in which the perpetrator makes profits.

He said the laws are a deterrent to others against pursuing a criminal lifestyle, as the individual not only receives a sentence or fine, but are unable to return to the routine they were accustomed to.

“Criminals think of prison as an occupational hazard; when caught for the crime, do the time, secure in the knowledge that when they emerge through the prison gates, they can carry on where they left off and return to their comfortable lifestyles. Not so if their dishonest business crumbles, and their standing in the community falls,” he pointed out.

“Asset recovery enables the public to see that criminals don’t get away with the fruits of their illicit activity. A recent review in the UK demonstrated the importance to the law-abiding public of seeing that criminals pay for their crimes both in terms of being punished through imprisonment or fined, and by having all the assets that they have acquired through their criminality taken away from them.

“It is dismaying for decent hard-working people to earn their money legitimately, pay their taxes, and see the local crooks swarming around with assets beyond the pockets of the law-abiding citizens.”

He said that asset recovery could be seen as a means of building public confidence, and when done successfully, it is one of the few aspects of the criminal justice system that generates a positive story.

“Unlike some of the more abstract processes of the criminal justice system, it is easy to communicate to the public the notion that criminals have been stripped of their assets, and that if they don’t cough up the proceeds of crime, they can be sent back to jail.

“The public needs to be reassured that crime doesn’t pay.”(JJ)

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