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Special police unit yet to charge anyone
Hours after Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said T&T wasn’t immune from the scourge of terrorism, its associated link to the financing of terrorism, money laundering and corruption, the Financial Investigations Branch (FIB) of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) revealed there are currently investigating several cases of terrorist financing.
This was confirmed yesterday by the FIB’s Insp Avinash Singh during the weekly police press briefing at the TTPS’s Administration Building, Port-of-Spain.
According to Singh, the FIB is in charge of investigations, detection and prosecution of money laundering and terrorist financing offences.
Not wanting to disclose statistics, the identity of suspects and amount of money involved in terrorist financing cases currently before them, Singh would only say: “Several cases are currently being investigated but I am not at liberty to say.”
He did, however, confirm they receive intelligence from the Financial Intelligence Unit of T&T (FIUTT) that helps them carry out their investigations in a more effective manner.
From its inception in 2011, the FIB has only managed to charge 17 people on a total of 90 charges, he said. But he said those charges emanated from drug trafficking and illegal gambling cases. The value of monies forfeited in those charges were: TT$14.3 million; US$40,606 and Cdn$1070, along with several other currencies including Korean, Bolivian and Yen. Singh said there were 45 other cases currently engaging their attention, with the total seizure of cash over TT$5 million and US$61,000. He also said they restrained assets of five people exceeding the $7 million.
Al-Rawi piloted legislation amending current laws on mutual assistance in criminal matters, management of the proceeds of crime, the Financial Intelligence Unit and Customs and Exchange Control in the Senate on Tuesday. The bill seeks to eliminate terrorism financing, money laundering, tax evasion and suspicious transactions.
Al-Rawi said the bill binds T&T with international obligations and reciprocal enforcement conditions to protect the country. He also noted increases in suspicious transactions noted in the Financial Intelligence Unit’s 2017 report - from $3 billion over 2011 to 2016 to $22 billion in 2017, but said $13 billion worth of transactions were halted.
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