The Jamaica government says it is pursuing measures aimed at combating acquisitive crimes, where the offender derives material gain from the criminal activity.
Revision of the Companies Act
Finance and the Public Service Minister, Audley Shaw, said the measures include revisions to the Companies Act to incorporate the retention of beneficial ownership information; the designation of certain professions as reporting entities under the Terrorism Prevention Act; passage of the National Identification System Act; and the development of a system for capturing statistics related to trial matters.
“We will also see, in short order, the Micro Credit Bill and amendments to the Companies Act and Trust Act as additional steps by the Government to improve our fight against (acquisitive) crimes and those who profit from it; to improve transparency and to be able to cope in the environment (of) increased de-risking arrangements by financial institutions,” Shaw added.
Lotto scamming racket an example
Shaw speaking at a Financial Investigations Division’s (FID) conference, which ended on Friday, said that most career criminals who are “in the business of making money” are adaptive, flexible and “ready to switch to more lucrative forms of crime”, citing the lotto scamming racket as an example.
He said it is important that measures are “aggressively” taken that will lead to the profits of these illicit activities being taken away from criminals, and that this is done expeditiously.
He lamented that taking a case to trial can sometimes take between five to seven years and, unfortunately, even after the arguments are closed, litigants can wait as long as three years for a judgment.
National Security Policy
Shaw noted that the National Security Policy underscores that removal of the profits from crime is a key objective in tackling domestic and transnational organized crimes.
He said that the Economic Growth Council’s goal of improving citizen safety and public security also points to the need for measures to take the profit out of crime.
Take away illicitly gained property
“It is full time that (illicitly acquired) property be taken away from criminals… and put to the public good,” Shaw said, adding that the FID sits at the center of the government’s efforts to take the profit out of crime.
“If the (goals) of Vision 2030 (of) prosperity, peace and creating a society in which we can raise our children (are) to be met, it requires the FID, in collaboration with its partners, both domestic and overseas, to continue to work diligently to take out the profit from crime,” he said.
British High Commissioner to Jamaica, Asif Ahmad, said the United Kingdom remains committed to working “relentlessly” with Jamaica and other Caribbean countries to implement measures in this regard.
The FID, which was established in December 2002, is mandated to investigate and heighten public awareness of financial crimes and their impact on the society.