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MoBay's airport Jamaica's anti-money laundering hub

Published:Thursday | June 23, 2016 | 6:00 AMOkoye Henry

Western Bureau:

The Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay yesterday became the official hub to combat the illegal cross-border movement of funds with the opening of a special verification room there by the Ministry of National Security.

The room, which will be manned by security personnel, carries a bold sign to warn travellers that they must declare either cash or bearer negotiable instruments exceeding US$10,000.

The verification room came about as a result of a joint initiative by the Jamaica Customs Agency and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), which are seeking to stamp out money laundering.

"We want to take this time to thank the commissioner of Customs (Richard Reese), who kindly undertook the cost of the refurbishing for the Ministry of National Security," said Karen Clarke-Davis, the acting permanent secretary in the national security ministry.

Clarke-Davis noted that the facility was in keeping with international requirements for all jurisdictions to devise a mechanism to prevent money laundering.

"Money laundering is necessary for the sustaining of criminal groups. Hence, appropriate countermeasures must be established by member countries and must be fully executed," said Clarke-Davis. "Too many times, cases have been thrown out of court because of technicalities. Today, we intend to bridge that gap."

Claudette Coombs, Jamaica Customs' director for the western region, emphasised that Jamaica has a role to play in preventing and combating terrorist actions while protecting citizens and visitors alike.

"We have to guarantee that a mechanism is in place for the movement of money and monetary instrument across borders as we strive to attain Jamaica's goal for Vision 2030," said Coombs.

Section 101 of the Proceeds of Crimes Act stipulates that all travellers leaving or entering Jamaica must declare cash or bearer negotiable instruments in excess of US$10,000 or its equivalent in any other currency.

A failure by travellers to abide by the stipulated act may result in them losing cash, which could be seized by the authorities.