While giving his Communication during the debate on the Financial Transactions Reporting Bill 2018 and the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2018, Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames presented to the House of Assembly an in-depth look into the latter. “The Proceeds of Crime Bill is for an Act to Consolidate and Strengthen Measures to Recover the Proceeds and Instrumentalities of Crime and to Combat Identified Risks,” Minister Dames pointed out, on March 1, 2018. “Although this Bill is considered one of those Bills that fall under the compendium of financial Bills, this Bill is a cross between the compendium of financial legislation and the compendium of crime legislation being proposed by this working government, ‘The People’s Government’.” Minister Dames noted that the Bill seeks to expose “all of those persons, organizations, and companies involved in criminal activity and seek to support, cover-up and conspire with others to conceal their ill-gotten gains, by whatever means necessary”.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, a study conducted in 2009 to determine the magnitude of illicit funds found that criminal proceeds being laundered amounted to US$1.6 trillion dollars, he said. “The nuts and bolts of these far-reaching and significant Bills are to launch an effective assault against the criminal networks operating throughout the country,” Minister Dames stated. “No matter where they may be operating, in communities, in the financial sector, across jurisdictions or on the deep web – it does not matter.” “Where the Tracing and Forfeiture of Proceeds and Drug Trafficking Act 1986 did not go far enough, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2000 made some inroads; and what those Acts were not successful in accomplishing, this Bill will achieve and put our nation on par with global financial and anti-corruption standards,” he added.
Minister Dames noted that the Proceeds of Crime Bill 2018 has broadened the scope for fighting crime by encompassing the Tracing & Forfeiture of Proceeds & Drug Trafficking Act (1986) and Proceeds of Crime Act (2000). He added that the consolidation of those three Bills rolled into one meant a greater depth and larger net to haul criminal activity. “For instance, both the Tracing & Forfeiture of Proceeds & Drug Trafficking Act (1986) and the Proceeds of Crime Act (2000) a subsidiary legislation, were created to exclusively handle all crimes dealing with the proceeds of drug trafficking alone,” Minister Dames pointed out. “This Bill, on the other hand, is more substantial making provision to cover all identified risks — money laundering; terrorism financing; terrorism; corruption, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human trafficking, virtual currencies – digital representation of value which can be digitally traded – and other factors that the Minister, by regulations, may recommend.”
Further, he said, the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2018, strengthens the previous legal framework through the establishment of a Ministerial Council and combats identified risks mentioned previously, by stiffening penalties and introducing sanctions to hinder corruption. “The Ministerial Council will have the responsibility of assessments as it relates to the effective implementation of the Identified Risk Framework — or IRF — to eliminate identified risks.,” he said. “The Ministerial Council will be composed of the following: the Attorney General; Minister of Finance; Minister of Financial Services; Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of National Security, and a National Identified Risk Framework Coordinator nominated by the Attorney General.” Regarding penalties and sanctions, Minister Dames pointed out, the Bill sets out a fine not exceeding $500,000 and imprisonment of not more than seven years on a summary conviction for money laundering, failure to make the required disclosures and tipping off. “The previous Act stipulated a fine of $100,000 or five years,” he noted.