Kingston, Jamaica: Friday, June 26, 2020
The Financial Investigations Division (FID) is reporting that Proceeds of Crime in excess of Twenty Thousand United States Dollars (US$20,000.00) and an assortment of currencies amounting to over One Million Two Hundred Thousand Jamaican Dollars (J$1,200,000.00) have been removed from circulation in separate cases through its use of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
The first matter concerns a joint investigation involving the FID, Hanover Police and United States Postal Inspection Services (USPIS) which culminated in an alleged scamming victim receiving partial restitution of monies filched from her. The investigation commenced following reports that a 40-year-old male resident of a Hanover address had received over US$71,000.00 via a wire transfer from a female United States citizen. The funds were allegedly to be invested in a business venture in Jamaica. The funds were however converted to the personal use of the recipient resulting in Detectives from the FID arresting and charging him for breaches of POCA and the Larceny Act.
The US citizen agreed to accept partial restitution in the sum of US$15,000.00 in lieu of a lengthy trial and has expressed her gratitude to the FID and the Hanover Police Division for their professionalism in the handling of her case. The funds were handed over to a Special Agent of the United States Postal Inspection Services in the Hanover Parish Court on June 24, 2020. The USPIS will hand over a cheque for that amount to the victim at a later date.
The USPIS was integral in securing the victim's statement and facilitating communication with local law enforcement.
Mr. Selvin Hay, Chief Technical Director for the FID, says the joint investigation with USPIS confirms the outstanding and deep-rooted relationship FID shares with our US counterparts in the fight against transnational crimes including all forms of scamming. He added that recovering the proceeds of crime through whatever lawful means is always a win in the fight against money laundering and other financial crimes.
Mr. Hay says this was a busy week for the FID culminating with several forfeiture orders being granted by local courts on June 18, 2020 and June 25, 2020 respectively in respect of cash seized under the POCA.
On June 18, 2020, the Westmoreland Parish Court ordered the forfeiture of cash in the amount of J$163,750. Police seized the cash and ganja weighing 1,034 pounds from a Westmoreland businessman, Audley Gayle. The cash was seized by the police under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) on the suspicion that it was derived from unlawful conduct. The cash was forfeited following his guilty plea to several breaches of the Dangerous Drugs Act in December 2018.
On June 25, 2020, the Corporate Area Parish Court ordered the forfeiture of cash seized from Shervington Lovell, Steven Antonius and Ricardo Ramirez o/c Argemiro Zapato-Castro in the amounts of Five Thousand Three Hundred United States Dollars (USD$5,300.00), Twenty-Four Thousand, Six Hundred Guyanese Dollars (GYD$24,600.00) and Four Hundred and Thirty Five Surinamese Dollars (SRD$435.00), respectively.
The cash was seized on October 25, 2018, when a police party from the Fugitive Apprehension Team conducted special operations at the Norman Manley international Airport pursuant to a request from the United States of America Government and an arrest warrant pursuant to the Extradition Act of 1991. Mr Lovell, Mr. Antonius and Mr. Ramirez, Guyanese, Surinamese and Columbian Nationals respectively, were located and arrested at the said location and their persons and properties searched. During the search, the cash was found and seized by the police under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) on the suspicion that it had derived from unlawful conduct.
All three men indicated that the cash was obtained from legitimate businesses to include gold mining and a car wash, but neither of them was able to verify the existence of the said businesses. FID investigated and found that none of the alleged businesses existed and that none of the men were found to possess licenses for the operation of gold mining business. The men have since been extradited to the United States.
On June 25, 2020, the Corporate Area Parish Court also ordered the forfeiture of cash in the amount of One Hundred and Forty Eight Thousand Jamaican Dollars (J$148,000.00). The cash was seized from Evroy Rowe on October 4, 2016 during an intelligence driven operation. Rowe was stopped on Laws Street in vicinity of Pearnel Charles Arcade, Down Town Kingston, Jamaica and later transported to the Kingston Central CIB Office where the car he was driving was searched and a quantity of Western Union receipts in the names of several Jamaican recipients found. Rowe was unable to satisfactorily account for the seized cash. The cash was therefore seized pursuant to the POCA as it was reasonably believed that the cash was recoverable property or was intended for use in unlawful conduct.
In all three Applications for Forfeiture of Seized Cash, the Courts found that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that the cash seized was derived from unlawful sources or was intended to be used for unlawful conduct. The forfeiture applications were made pursuant to Section 79 of the Proceeds of Crime Act, which permits the Parish Court to order the forfeiture of cash if satisfied that the cash is either recoverable property or is intended to be used by any person in unlawful conduct. CTD Hay says this provision properly allows the FID to properly accomplish a key goal of taking 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: Luke Douglas/Daniel Passley
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