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Be mindful of high-risk clients - Bunting

Published:Tuesday | September 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM
BUNTING

SECURITY MINISTER Peter Bunting has urged white collar professionals to be mindful of high risk clients who may engage them to facilitate money laundering, as the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2013 has more criminal sanctions.

Bunting made the disclosure at the Realtors Association of Jamaica annual general meeting, held at the New Kingston Conference Centre last Thursday.

He signalled bankers, accountants, lawyers and realtors, among others, to conduct due diligence and to know their clients to prevent illegal proceeds from being introduced into legitimate monetary schemes.

"You may consider this an unnecessary burden, but it is really something that is being imposed on us not just by Government, but if our financial institutions are to be integrated into the international financial system, we have to be compliant as a country," he said. Bunting said the regulations are not voluntary as they are stipulated by the CFATF (Caribbean Financial Action Task Force) that is geared around countering terrorism financing and money laundering, more generally.

The Act also regulates the use of large sums of cash to transact business. "It is now illegal to transact business over a $1 million in cash, and it is also illegal to splinter the transaction to bring a transaction that would have otherwise been over a $1 million under a million by splitting it in five or 10 or 20 or whatever the case may be," he outlined.

The impact that the recently announced Major Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Agency will have on white collar professionals was also highlighted by the minister.

"This is a 100 per cent vetted sensitive investigative unit. It has tremendous capabilities and you do not want to become a target of this unit. This is not like a special anti-crime task force where you see guys with ballistic helmets and M16s. These people are lawyers, accountants, forensic auditors and financial investigators who are not only going after criminals, but the facilitators of crime," he added.