The Financial Investigations Division (FID) was successful in securing the forfeiture of approximately J$1.5 million and US$20,000 in four separate cases across the island from February 3 to February 16.
The cash forfeitures were achieved using the civil provisions under section 79 of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). This means that no criminal convictions materialised in these proceedings.
Rather, in each case, the state filed civil action to forfeit the cash on the basis that it was, more likely than not, either earned from, or intended for use in, criminal conduct.
BREACHES OF THE POCA
The alleged criminal conduct included breaching various sections of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, rape, attempting to pervert the course of justice, and advance fee fraud (lottery scamming).
Keith Darien, the FID’s principal director of investigations, noted: “It is rare when criminal activities do not have a financial element. Oftentimes perpetrators of crime are seeking to gain or expand their wealth through different illegal undertakings. In one of these February cases, the accused tried using money to keep his victim and her family quiet. Actions like these will most certainly be met with punishment and any assets used in the commission of the crime or represent the proceeds of crime, will be pursued by the FID and forfeited to the government.
“I wholeheartedly thank our hardworking colleagues on the ground in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, especially those with whom we work closely with in the Constabulary Financial Unit. It is their vigilance and competence in the application of the law which ensures the use of POCA in moments when laying charges for predicate offences.
“We encourage the public to shun criminals and the lifestyle sponsored by their ill-gotten gains. Instead, you’re invited to partner with the FID and share with us what you know about illegal financial activities.”
Meanwhile, Courtney Smith, the FID’s director of legal services, added: “It is important for the public to become more familiar with the POCA and be guided by it. This will make breaches less likely. In matters of law, there is no bliss in ignorance. Visit the FID website or do online searches; take time to read and understand POCA. It is a powerful legislation which the FID and other authorised agencies will not hesitate to apply – and we continue to do so with increasing success.”