By Garwin Davis
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – The government of Jamaica is moving to sign the CARICOM agreement – sharing of recovered assets – intended to strengthen regional cooperation in this area by establishing a framework for the return or sharing of illicitly acquired proceeds that have been confiscated.
Chief Technical Director (CTD) in the ministry, Rohan Richards said the agreement will also facilitate the provision of assistance to victims of money laundering and increased financing for regional security institutions.
He was speaking during the recent Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network of the Caribbean (ARIN-CARIB) annual general meeting at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort in St James.
“Jamaica’s signing of the regional agreement is expected to complement legislation the ministry is pursuing to implement; an asset recovery incentivisation scheme,” Richards said. “This scheme will allow those agencies that work to combat money laundering to be able to utilise a portion of the funds recovered in order to improve their capacity and operational effectiveness,” he explained.
The CTD said this is expected to enable agencies, such as the Financial Investigations Division (FID), “to successfully pursue more criminals under the proceeds of crime Act”.
Meanwhile, Richards said the ministry will be seeking to introduce legislation to address illegally acquired finances and assets. This, he indicated, will target persons in possession of assets deemed disproportionate to their financial standing, who are unable to reasonably explain the source of such gains.
“The introduction of these provisions will signal to criminals and facilitators of criminal activity that the government of Jamaica is serious about taking away illicitly acquired wealth,” the CTD pointed out.
Additionally, Richards said it is expected that these measures will be a “significant deterrent to criminal activity, as there is a greater risk of losing the wealth criminals would have gained through illicit enrichment”.
Representatives from more than 25 member countries attended the two-day ARIN-CARIB conference featured presentations on several topics including ‘Gold Smuggling Typologies’; ‘Best Practices in the Seizure of Cryptocurrencies’ and ‘Unexplained Wealth Orders’.
Richards said organisations such as ARIN provide a platform for stakeholder dialogue on matters encountered by financial investigators, members of the judiciary, prosecutors, and lawmakers alike.
The forum, he added, enables law-enforcement officers to, “Remain ahead of the curve on matters that are current and allow for the development of appropriate counter-measures to limit the actions of criminals”.
The ARIN networks are globally recognised as a judicial and law-enforcement tool used in targeting persons involved in organised crime, with a particular focus on financial and asset deprivation.
There are eight ARIN networks currently in operation around the world.