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US State Department report highlights issues with Ja's Proceeds of Crime legislation, justice system

Published:Saturday | March 4, 2017 | 1:22 PM

The United States Department of State says Jamaica’s Proceeds of Crime legislation is still not being implemented to its fullest potential.

This observation is based on what the State Department claims is the difficulties encountered by Jamaican authorities in prosecuting financial crimes and securing convictions in these cases.

These were among the findings contained in the State Department’s 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, which was released recently.

It notes that since 2007 when the Proceeds of Crime legislation was enacted the Financial Investigations Division has used it to seize over $20 million in property and other assets believed to be derived from criminal activities.

Despite this, however, the State Department wants the Jamaican Government to make a more concerted effort to identify money-laundering-related activities and take steps to deter political and public corruption.

It also urged the government to provide sufficient resources to prosecutors.

The report suggested that Jamaica review and amend where necessary, its case-processing procedures to ensure that prosecutors are able to pursue financial crimes fairly and efficiently.

Meanwhile, the report also contained scathing criticisms of some of the main players in the judicial system.

It says inefficient practices by investigators, prosecutors, defence attorneys and the judiciary combined with a culture of corruption and unaccountability further frustrates the country’s already over-burdened court system.

The report notes that Jamaican courts and prosecutors have not been able to keep pace with an increase in the number of persons charged with criminal offences, including financial crimes.

The US State Department report also took issue with the way money laundering is treated by Jamaican authorities.

It says Jamaica has chosen to pursue offences linked to money laundering rather than treating it as a stand-alone crime, resulting in fewer prosecution and conviction for the offence.

The report by the US State Department cautioned that lengthy delays in processing judicial orders also hinders the effectiveness of the court system.