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Police official knocks lawyers for resisting POCA scrutiny

Published:Friday | December 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds.-File

Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of crime, Glenmore Hinds, is decrying efforts to block more effective money laundering legislation.

He is charging that the legal fraternity and others with a vested interest are frustrating police efforts at going after illicit money.

The charge was in reference to the recent amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), which have met with stiff resistance from members of the legal fraternity.

The amendments to POCA adds professionals and businesses to the list of entities to be subjected to the anti-money laundering scrutiny, whereas the law previously addressed banks and other financial institutions.

The law also placed a cap of $1 million on cash transactions with financial institutions.

"They are resisting being brought in and it is to my certain knowledge that a significant sum of money that is laundered annually goes through the legal books ... they are resisting and they cite lawyer/client privilege as the reason," Hinds said as he addressed the third annual Anti-Money Laundering & Counter Financing of Terrorism Conference in Kingston on Tuesday.

Hinds said there is a choice to be made between individual rights and the survival of a country.

"It must be viewed in the wider context of trying to save a country and a country's reputation ... you can have all your rights, but if you don't have a country those rights can't be secured," he told the conference.

He added that those who are against the legislation are more concerned about prosecution and reduced profits and this can be to the detriment of the country

"They recognise that they stand to be prosecuted ... or it might very well mean that it may be a reduced income for them," he said as he implored that Jamaica would be a better place if the legal profession is brought into the fold.

The annual AML/CFT conference was staged for the fifth year by the Jamaica Bankers Association, in collaboration with the Jamaica Institute of Financial Services, from December 8-10.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com