POCA pleas under review
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Please allow the Financial Investigations Division to contribute to recent discussions in the media relating to the agency's powers to restrain assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
The first thing to note is that the agency carries out its function in accordance with what the law provides. The law provides for applications for restraint to be made to the court without notice. This is to allow the agency an opportunity to continue investigation while ensuring that the potential proceeds of crime are not dissipated, (which would render a key objective of the investigations, i.e., depriving the defendant of the fruits of his crime, fruitless).
On the issue of living and legal expenses, the law provides that an order may provide for reasonable living and legal expenses (save for legal expenses relating to the offence in regard to which the investigation has been launched).
Orders made by the courts have been making provisions for such expenses, although, strictly speaking, there is no legal onus on the agency to make representations in this regard. However, the agency must, of course, take cognisance of the views of the courts and we will be reviewing our applications to take these issues into account.
There have also been some discussions on the need to review the provisions of the act to ensure that to the letter and spirit of the Jamaican Constitution is observed.
The agency is not of the view that any of the provisions of the POCA breaches the Constitution. However, we are always ready to participate in, and support, any debate or review process that will ensure that the constitutional rights of Jamaicans are protected.
Chief Technical Director