Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
CARS, BOATS and other assets seized by the authorities as proceeds of crime can now be sold before court cases are completed.
Parliament, by way of an amendment to the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), gave the go-ahead for the sale of such property.
Justice Minister Mark Golding, in piloting the bill through the Senate last Friday, said the amendment is a welcome one.
"When assets are seized or restrained, there is usually a strong risk that the assets and its value can deteriorate over time, if it is a physical asset," noted Golding.
The amendment, which has been approved by both houses of Parliament, will allow the Asset Recovery Agency to apply to the court for the sale of an asset.
The law provides for the court to give directions for the terms and conditions of the sale, as well as the manner in which the proceeds of the sales are to be paid over and held while the restraint order is in force.
"In the event that the owner is successful in obtaining its release, the cash and interest thereof will be released to the owner," Golding said.
He told the Senate that there are several examples of deteriorating assets at police stations across the island "rotting down and losing its value".
"It does not help the owner and it does not help the State in the event that the State eventually gets an order for the forfeiture of the asset," said Golding.
"It is a welcomed one which will safeguard legitimate members of the business community," added Golding.
The Asset Recovery Agency is charged with the responsibility of managing and maintaining assets seized and forfeited from persons deemed to be in possession of criminal property, and this is done on behalf of the Government of Jamaica.
It operates out of the Financial Investigation Division, which focuses on the need to deter the use of Jamaica's economy for money laundering and other financial crimes.
The amendments to the POCA are being made to bring Jamaica into compliance with the Financial Action Task Force recommendations on International Standards on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism proliferation.