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Editors' Forum | POCA is watered down – Montague

Published:Monday | February 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter
Minister of National Security Robert Montague
Security expert Robert Finzi-Smith

National Security Minister Robert Montague believes the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) is not as firm as it should be, assuring that there will be a legislative push for Jamaicans to account for their wealth.

"They (legislators) watered down the Proceeds of Crime Act, from where it started. That is my term, watered down, and that is why we are moving to amend it," said Montague at a Gleaner Jamaica Under Labour Stakeholder Forum at the media house's North Street, Kingston office last week.

Currently, the prosecution has to make a case for ill-gotten gains and then assets in question can be retrieved and handed over to the State. The minister said the aim is to move the burden of proof to a suspected individual, so they would have to explain their source(s) of their wealth to the police.

Security expert Robert Finzi-Smith added that lottery scam activities in Montego Bay, St. James demonstrate the need for POCA amendments.

He pointed out: "We must follow the money. How can someone drive a Range Rover 2016 to 2017, have no discernible source of income and nobody knock on him door and seh 'Excuse me?'"

Finzi-Smith continued, "You have very big, upstanding people with titles behind dem name who are participating. We need to call them to book."

In his delivery of the Throne Speech earlier this month, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen highlighted that the main purpose of the POCA amendments is to comply with recommendations presented in the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce Mutual Evaluation of Jamaica. There will also be the development of regulations to guide the use of funds recovered, for national development.