Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Gov't: Attorneys not obliged to report on clients 'suspect' financial transactions at this time

Published:Saturday | October 7, 2017 | 10:34 AMJerome Reynolds

The Government has for now opted not to include attorneys on the list of entities required by law to report financial transactions linked to or suspected to be connected to terrorism.

The Senate on Friday decided against debating and passing a resolution which would include lawyers on the list.

Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, told the Upper House that the decision was taken in light of the court challenge amounted by the Jamaican Bar Association against changes to the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The law requires attorneys to report on the finances and transactions of their clients.

However, the Bar Association contended that the amendment to the Act would compel lawyers to police their clients.

The association further argued that the amendment would breach the sacrosanct attorney-client privilege.

Johnson Smith said the government decided against pursuing the matter at this time because it did not want to prejudice the court case.


Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith

Leader of Opposition Business, Mark Golding, welcomed the decision.

Noting Jamaica needs to become compliant with international obligations on anti-money-laundering and terrorism financing, Senator Golding, who is an attorney, said the government and the legal profession should work on arriving at a consensus.


Leader of Opposition Business, Mark Golding

Meanwhile, the Senate on Friday passed resolutions to include real estate dealers and casino operators on the list of professions required to file reports.

The Upper House is to debate resolutions to also include public accountants and gaming machine operators.