Attorney General Anand Ramlogan led a team of high level public officials as part of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) delegation to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary in Paris, France. Members included Susan Francois, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Nigel Stoddard, Deputy Director and representatives from the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The plenary session considers evaluation reports for countries seeking to achieve FATF compliance and approval. FATF comprises the G20 countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Russia, Germany Japan and Australia. FATF is the internationally recognized body with responsibility for setting global standards for anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).
T&T will be assessed in January 2015. The Government has taken several initiatives towards achieving compliance including amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and the FIU Act, strengthening the capacity of the major stakeholders. These amendments would strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute persons for money laundering.
The government has made a crucial change in the law by widening the range of criminal offences which can lead to confiscation of a criminal’s assets. It has also made it easier to prove money laundering by removing the need to link the illegal funds to a particular crime. In other words, the accused will now bear the responsibility of explaining the source of his enrichment.
Businesses that are conducive to money laundering and the financing of terrorism have come in for special treatment as they are now subject to a different legal regime that involves registration, monitoring and onsite inspections by the FIU. This ensures that the source of funds is legitimate and not the fruit of criminal activity. These listed businesses include lawyers, jewellers, motor vehicle dealers, real estate agents and casinos.
Other critical legislative changes target the financing of terrorism. The government has substantially increasing the fines and penalties under the ATA and widened the pool of assets that can be frozen and confiscated in appropriate cases, where there is evidence linking the owner to terrorist financing.
Several Caribbean countries were in attendance at the Paris plenary including AGs from Guyana and the Bahamas. The next CFATF plenary will be hosted in El Salvador in November at which a progress report will be presented on Trinidad and Tobago.