August 30, 2013

FIU: Over $8 million seized since formation

Since its formation in 2002, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has seized over EC$8 million in cash and assets, with expectations by its director for that number to rise after a major case is settled.{{more}}

During a press conference on Monday, director Grenville Williams said that one matter pending in the courts may see more than $10 million in forfeited assets, which will add to the amounts restrained and seized in the past 11 years.

“To date, we have detained in excess of EC$8 million, restrained more than $10 million in cash and other property, and forfeited more than $2 million, Williams told members of the media.

“Once a court orders forfeiture or confiscation of any proceeds derived from criminal conduct, these monies are deposited to what is called a ‘confiscated assets fund,’ and this is important as it is distinct and completely separate from the consolidated fund,” he indicated.

Ironically, Williams pointed out that these confiscated funds are usually used by government to finance training, vehicles and other activities for law enforcement agencies, under the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering legislation.

The director made a dinstinction between seized and restrained assets.

“There are two schools of thought: seized cash is where there is actual physical cash, the direct money. However, if you have other property, such as real estate, vehicles, or a business, then an injunction or freezing order is applied against that property, so that you can continue your business and utilize this property until the court makes a determination that you are guilty of the acquisitive crime, and subsequently that such property ought to be confiscated in satisfaction of the order made by the court.

“So, when we speak of seizure, we speak more directly of physical cash, whereas restraint relates to a freezing or an injunction being placed against other property.”(JJ)