Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Senate approves bill that could criminalise investors for unintended actions

Published:Monday | January 23, 2017 | 1:12 AM

Despite strong disagreement from opposition members, the Government used its superior numbers in the Senate to approve a clause in a bill that could criminalise investors for failing to show "reasonable diligence" for some actions they may not have intended.

Leader of Opposition Business, Mark Golding, argued that including that clause in the International Corporate and Trust Service Providers Act 2016 was sending the wrong signal to investors or business players that if they fail to show reasonable diligence they could be sent to prison. 

 

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Mark Golding

Government members Ransford Braham and Aubyn Hill agreed with Golding that there are civil punishments that could be applied.

According to Braham it could prevent people from taking up certain positions of responsibility.

Senate leader, Kamina Johnson Smith, who piloted the bill, said she had no problem raising the issue with the finance minister Audley Shaw but said she could not change a matter of policy without Shaw's input.

 

Senate leader, Kamina Johnson Smith

Because Johnson Smith insisted on going ahead with the clause, Opposition Senator Lambert Brown called for a divide which allowed votes to be recorded individually. 

Eight Government senators including Braham and Hill voted yes to approve the clause.

Five opposition members voted no.

The Senate approved the International Corporate and Trust Service Providers Act 2016 with 27 amendments.

The bill, which will go back to the House of Representatives, is aimed at promoting Jamaica as an international financial centre.