IRS leaves Jamaica with $84m collected from jailed accountant's assets
Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer
An agent of the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) left Jamaica last week with three cheques totalling just over US$700,000 or approximately J$84 million.
According the Financial Investigations Division (FID) of the Ministry of Finance, the money was derived from the liquidation of assets and deposits held at three local financial institutions by Pamela Watson.
Watson is a Jamaican accountant who is now serving a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence in the US on fraud charges.
The FID has already indicated that it is in the process of liquidating other assets linked to Watson that should yield close to US$110,000 or nearly J$13.2 million.
The agency says this too will be turned over to the IRS.
Watson, who has been described as a very popular activist in the Jamaican community in South Florida, pleaded guilty in a court in that state of operating a tax-refund scheme that defrauded clients and the US government of US$3.6 million.
Prosecutors have claimed that most of her victims were Jamaicans who she claimed she was helping.
Watson admitted in court that she falsified hundreds of tax returns and refund amounts on IRS forms without her clients' knowledge.
She was ordered to make restitution totalling US$3.6 million.
A probe by Jamaican financial investigators revealed that just over J$107 million and other assets linked to Watson were being held at two local licensed financial institutions.
Jamaican authorities had begun the process to have the funds forfeited to the State, but yielded to their US counterparts who had commenced similar proceedings in their jurisdiction.