Huge crime bucks laundered in T&T

Susan Francois
Susan Francois

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – More than three billion dollars (US$467 million) were laundered in Trinidad and Tobago over the last four years, according to information reported to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Susan Francois, director of the unit, disclosed.
She said the sum was reported by financial institutions and businesses as the suspected receipts of criminal activity.
“This was not legal money, this was money that the financial institutions and businesses reasonably suspected came from crime.”
She noted that the huge amount, which only represented the sums reported, showed the attraction of crime “and that is why people take the risk, that is why they conduct criminal activity, that is why they commit crime, because of the huge profits which are generated.”
Francois added that, while people consider money laundering as white-collar crime, the three billion dollars that were reported came from violent crime while white collar crime does not usually involve violence, or injury to the person.
“But that three billion dollars, a lot of it could have come from kidnapping; murder for profit; extortion; intimidation and related offences such as drug trafficking; human trafficking; trafficking in arms and ammunition and those crimes cause destruction, serious bodily harm, if not death to persons,” she said.
Francois said that under existing legislation there are about 2,000 institutions registered with the FIU as being responsible for implementing anti-money laundering laws and regulations combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) and each of these institutions must have a compliance officer, and an alternate compliance officer, a total of 4,000 persons.