March 5, 2010
Chamber of Commerce holds clinic

Several financial institutions here are better equipped to safeguard their interest against money laundering and terrorist activities.{{more}}

An anti money laundering/ counter terrorism financing clinic hosted by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Industry and Commerce was held here on Wednesday.

The seminar hosted under the theme ‘Comply today for survival tomorrow’ highlighted the importance of local financial institutions’ compliance with the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering Prevention Act 2001, and other relevant legislations.

More than 30 institutions including banks, credit unions, wire transfer and insurance companies, along with several other local business houses, gathered at the (CIC’s) conference room, to hear from Grenville Williams, Director of the Financial Investigations Unit (FIU), and Kozel Creese, the Unit’s Legal Officer, about ways to identify money laundering and terrorism financing activities and reporting them.

Williams and Creese touched on the various topics including the definitions of money laundering and terrorism financing, the legal obligations of companies to report suspicious activities, the genesis of anti-money laundering legislations, typologies, indicators, examples of these crimes and how to combat them.

Williams defined money laundering as the act of disguising the source or origin of criminal proceeds by legitimizing these funds.

“Effectively, the legislation is saying (that) where a person attempts to disguise, transfer (or) hide their criminal proceeds, where the objective of avoiding persecution for the underlying or predicate criminal activity, they have engaged in money laundering.

“The objective of the money launderer is simple… they take the dirty money and legitimizes it. If that dirty money is legitimized it becomes easier to spend, easier to invest and there is less likelihood that that person will be prosecuted for the underlying criminal activity and their liberties will be taken away from them,” said Williams.

He disclosed that it is estimated that less than 10 percent of laundered money is usually detected, and that between two to five percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) may be gained through illegal means.

Executive Director of the (CIC) Shafia London urged the business places represented at the seminar to capitalize on any opportunity to learn about anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing, as well as the role that they have to play in fighting them.