Tackling serious organized crimes is a priority of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines thus the Financial Intelligence Unit is positioning itself to combat these crimes.
Last Friday January 22, the FIU launched a new division called the Civil Asset Recovery Division. The Civil Asset Recovery Division will aid in the holistic fortification of anti-money laundering and counter financing of the terrorism system providing remedies both civilly and criminally.
Director Ag. of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Financial Intelligence Unit, LaTeisha Sandy noted that the organisation is cognizant that in order to be effective in tackling transnational crimes there must be partnerships such as the one they have with the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Officers. “The criminals have well established networks and so must we”, Sandy added. She noted that SVG has had a long successful regime for civil cash forfeiture, forfeiting cash to the Confiscated Asset Fund. She however noted that the Civil Recovery Legislation is new to the region.
The Director (Ag) of the FIU said, “In December 2015, SVG successfully obtained its first confiscation under the criminal regime. However, we are acutely aware that when competence strengthens in one area, the criminal elements seek to attack perceived weakness in others”. She noted that the launch of this division is public because part of the FIU’s mandate is to sensitize and educate the public. She said it is important that not only the stakeholders are aware but also the public as the safety and security of our nationals should be everyone’s priority.
“It is important that we understand that these crimes are built on other crimes for which some horrendous act may have taken place. Often times we focus on the money but there is loss of lives, trafficking in person, there are so many dangerous things that take place in order for someone to receive the money”, she said.
Sandy noted that the FIU has been educating the country’s youth on the consequences of a life of crime as the youth are often being targeted. She said she is pleased with the large turn out by the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) as the FIU has only been able to accomplish everything it has through key partnership. She noted that stakeholders such as the RSVGPF are the ones on the ground who will bring the cases to the FIU.
She noted that the FIU continues to be at the forefront in the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and other serious crimes. Sandy said she is sure that through this partnership the success will only be strengthened. She also noted that the FIU will continue to partner with the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Officers as they seek to take the profit out of crime and ensure the continued social and economic stability of this country.
Pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Officers, two fellows, an attorney and an investigator will be attached to the Civil Asset Recovery Division for a period of three years; the fellows will come from within the SVG FIU. They will work to investigate and develop Civil Asset Recovery Cases. It is expected that the program will be further continued for a three year period. St. Vincent and the Grenadine is a pilot in the Civil Asset Recovery initiative in the region.