The Assets Recovery Agency/Financial Investigations Division on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 obtained its first pecuniary penalty order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (“POCA”). The order was made against Mr. Ralph Gregg in the Home Circuit Court.
The proceedings arose from the conviction of Mr. Gregg for the offences Possession of Cocaine and Dealing in Cocaine in the then Westmoreland Resident Magistrate’s Court on April 23, 2013. Upon his conviction, the Agency applied for Mr. Gregg to be committed to the Circuit Court, for that Court to consider the benefit he had obtained from his criminal conduct. This application was granted and the Agency initiated proceedings for a pecuniary penalty order against Mr. Gregg.
It was the Agency’s case that Mr. Gregg, having been convicted of the offence of Dealing in Cocaine, was deemed to have a criminal lifestyle. This was so as the offence of Dealing in Cocaine is listed in the Second Schedule of the POCA and, pursuant to Section 6 of the POCA, a person convicted of an offence listed in the Second Schedule shall be regarded as having a criminal lifestyle. Pursuant to Section 8 of the POCA, once a person is determined to have a criminal lifestyle, the Court shall make certain assumptions for the purpose of calculating the benefit he obtained from his criminal conduct. These include the assumption that any property transferred to the defendant after the relevant day was obtained by him as a result of his general criminal conduct, and that any expenditure made by the defendant after the relevant day was met from property obtained by him as a result of his general criminal conduct. The “relevant day” for the purposes of the POCA, is a period of ten years prior to the day when proceedings for the offence concerned were started against the defendant.
As part of its case, the Agency’s forensic examiners conducted a forfeiture investigation and obtained various financial records concerning Mr. Gregg which showed several deposits and expenditures made by Mr. Gregg and assets that had been obtained by him during the relevant period. The Agency led evidence of this at the hearing of the matter which took place on the 28th and 30th of June, 2017. Mr. Gregg also gave evidence at the hearing. It was his position that all his assets and expenditures came from his legitimate employment as a carpenter in Canada.
In its deliberations, the court accepted the submissions of the Agency that there was an evidential burden on Mr. Gregg to rebut the assumptions provided for in Section 8 of POCA. The court agreed with the Agency that Mr. Gregg failed to rebut the assumptions and was not a credible witness. Of note was the fact that Mr. Gregg produced no documentary evidence of his alleged legitimate earnings. Accordingly, the court applied the assumptions and ordered Mr. Gregg to pay a pecuniary penalty order in the sum of JA$17,567,588.80 to the Crown by August 28, 2018.
The Chief Technical Director of the FID indicated that this marks the first pecuniary penalty order that has been obtained by the Agency, and the first pecuniary penalty order that has been made in Jamaica. He stated that "FID will continue to use every effort and tool at its disposal to take the profit out of crime."
For further information contact:
Communication & Public Relations Branch
Ministry of Finance and the Public Service
30 National Heroes Circle
Tel: (876) 932-4656/4660/4655
Contact: Elaine Oxamendi Vicet/Kadisha Sharp