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From Island Scholar to acting FIU Director

From Island Scholar  to acting FIU Director


by Omesha Spence 27.FEB.09

Successful, intelligent, well guarded and composed. This is not how he describes himself, but just the way he appears, as getting him to assess himself is difficult, as he says he doesn’t like to talk about personal things, himself included.{{more}}

Grenville Williams, a Lawyer and now acting Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), is a former Island Scholar. He met his success back in 1996, being awarded one of the four island scholarships given out that year.

Asked to describe his reaction, Williams carefully gathered his words, in the way any media shy attorney would, to express his excitement in 1996.

“It was an occasion that brought momentous joy to my family and myself,” he said. ‘I know I had a concrete opportunity to pursue University education and move one step closer to becoming an attorney-at-law, who may one day be fortunate enough to serve the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Williams, a former student of the St. Vincent Grammar School, gained three GCE A’level passes.

Seated in his roomy office at the FIU, Williams related his long time love for the Law. “I have always aspired to follow a career path as an attorney.” According to him, he always saw Lawyers as outstanding citizens and was entertained by the way they were characterised in the many books he read.

“The books that I read depicted Lawyers in two lights, as villains who argue strenuously for those at fault, and on the other side the good Lawyers who fought for a cause they believed in.”

With strong evidence placing him in the “good Lawyer” category, he humbly said he lets others decide where he fits.

“I am resolved that I will let the public decide whether I am a rogue or good Lawyer. I endeavor to work so that they will be strongly persuaded to conclude that I have done enough to be considered among the Lawyers who are good, not just as an advocate but also as it relates to character,” he explained.

On his journey to becoming a good Lawyer, Williams was accepted into the UWI (University of the West Indies), Cave Hill campus, and studied for three years, gaining his LLB (Bachelor of Laws) degree. He also gained his LEC (Legal Education Certificate) at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad. A total of five years training which he says prepared him for the wider world, having been among the company of many influential personalities.

“At these institutions, you are given the opportunity to interact and develop relationships with your regional counterparts who become engines of change and development in all walks of life,” he said. Williams also worked with the Saunders and Huggins Law firm.

He is definitely among the many engines of change here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as his job entails ensuring security for people of this country. As Director (Ag.) of FIU, he operates within a challenging department whose functions include control of money laundering and terrorist financing.

“As a unit, we have been pioneers in obtaining stand alone convictions for money laundering in the OECS and the wider Caribbean. In effect, what we have done is deterred, discarded and disrupted persons who are intent on obtaining wealth by illegitimate means, that is, through criminal conduct.” A job no doubt filled with many challenges. However, Williams is up to the challenge.

“Yes, I enjoy my job,” he related with a sense of pride. “I enjoy being able to serve as a member of the team of the FIU.”

Williams, an avid reader, enjoys mostly biographies and autobiographies on some of the great men and women in history, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and books closer to home. “Of course, I read books about my work, so books on money laundering and terrorist financing,” he said.

Williams also dished out some excellent advice for young aspiring Lawyers: “Enjoy and cherish the days of your youth. Expand your horizons widely and be inspired by positive contributions made by all members of society, including Lawyers.”