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Privy Council rules financial records can be provided before a conviction

Published:Wednesday | January 21, 2015 | 9:37 AM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator



KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The government-owned Assets Recovery Agency has scored a major legal victory which has paved the way for financial institutions to give it information about people being investigated for money laundering before they are convicted.




The way was made clear through a ruling this week by the United Kingdom-based Privy Council.



The Agency had first taken the issue to the Court of Appeal but was unsuccessful.



An ex-parte application was made before the Privy Council which ruled this week in favour of the Agency.



The ruling means that the Agency, through its agents, can now apply to a judge for an order for an individual’s financial information.



The orders will require financial institutions to give the Assets Recovery Agency information about people being investigated for money laundering or who are suspected of acquiring assets through criminal activity.



The orders also extend to assets the Agency hopes to forfeit.



The ex-parte application was brought by Queen's Counsel Michael Hylton and attorney-at-law Sundiatia Gibbs.



The Privy Council agreed with the submissions that the Court of Appeal was wrong to rule that there must be a conviction before a court can grant a customer information order in aid of either a money laundering or forfeiture investigation.



It was also the Privy Council's finding that the appeals court was wrong to find that it must first be proven that a suspected money launderer has some connection with criminal property before a customer information order could be made in relation to a money laundering investigation.



The court also held that the application which was made in the appeals court was defective in many ways, and probably should have been refused even if the court had applied the law correctly.



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