Dominica: FIU investigates over $1million seized in 2020

(DNO) – Over a million dollars seized for the year thus far is currently under investigation by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Dominica.

Director of the FIU, McKelson Ferrol, stated that for the period under review, the unit effectively dealt with a series of cash seizure cases in collaboration with the law enforcement agencies to include the Customs and Excise Division and the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force (CDPF).

At present, there are five seizures under investigation with a cash value of sixty-seven thousand, eight hundred and twenty-four dollars ($67,824). The number of reseizures is one, with a cash value of eight hundred and nineteen thousand, seven hundred and ninety-seven dollars and eighty-six cents, while the number of successful forfeitures, is three, with a cash value of ninety-three thousand, nine hundred and twenty dollars and sixty-one cents.

A seizure is when funds are taken during the course of an investigation. Forfeiture occurs where individuals are deprived of funds under penalty of law or otherwise fail to claim the disputed funds. Reseizure can occur when funds were initially seized and then were released for various reasons such as lack of evidence and then seized again when evidence later becomes available.

Ferrol indicated that in the facilitation of cash seizure and cash caught by the proceeds of crime, two accounts were established to ensure that funds seized or forfeited from persons, are effectively managed.

“The proceeds of the crime detained fund served as an escrow account into which funds are deposited and held pending the outcome of the cases before the court. The assets for future fund serves as a final repository for funds forfeited to the state,” he said.

The FIU Director revealed that as of November 2020, the balance of the assets for future funds is at three million, eighty thousand, four hundred and sixty-four dollars and fifty-four cents. The proceeds of the crime detained fund are at one million, three hundred and seventy-five thousand, eight hundred and ninety-five dollars and seventy-five cents.

He said that in the conduct of one of its core functions, the unit pursued several money-laundering investigations, coordinating its activity with other law enforcement agencies as well as the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

Five investigations were actively considered, which include three money laundering investigations, two money laundering prosecutions and two people have been charged.

“The division which has continued to be a pivotal department in the national effort to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other financial crime within our jurisdiction has proven to be a huge success in the management of the units’ capacity building,” Ferrol remarked.

In 2019, the FIU established an analytical department to examine all reports received in relation to its mandate to receive, request, analyze, investigate and disseminate inquiries concerning all suspected proceeds of crime and suspicious transactions and information related to a property of terrorist groups and terrorist financing.

One hundred and thirty-eight Suspicious Transactions or Activity Report (STR) have been received and analyzed for the year so far, with eighty-seven disseminated reports.

According to Ferrol, Dominica’s second cycle review of chapter two (which is preventing anti-corruption policies and practices) and chapter five (asset recovery, prevention and detention of transfer of proceeds of crime) of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption is carded for review in the coming months.

Dominica will be reviewed by Guyana and Romania along with two representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and during that period, there will be one onsite visit and several video conferences, the first of which will be on November 27, 2020.

Ferrol said that the unit is actively working with other competent authorities to complete the National Risk Assessment (NRA) by the end of November 2020, a process that started four years ago but was disrupted by the passage of Hurricane Maria and now Covid-19.

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