Sat | Dec 2, 2023

DPP urges investigators to close loopholes in fraud probes

Published:Saturday | February 4, 2023 | 1:39 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn is charging investigators attached to the Financial Investigations Division (FID) to be thorough in their probes to allow for the successful conviction of persons charged with fraud.

“If certain things are not picked up, certain challenges are not picked up from day one, loopholes are not closed, it may still mean that you go to court and the prosecutor is given a lemon, so to speak, and the case falls apart,” she said.

Speaking at FID’s Biennial Conference held under the theme ‘Widening the Use of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) Through Collaboration’ on Thursday, Llewellyn said that laxity, especially in the initial stages of white-collar crime investigations, can be very disconcerting for prosecutors.

“The prosecution in these cases would be forced to take the role of a magician or in a circus a performer jumping through hoops,” she said.

The DPP asserted that collaboration between the two agencies is in the public’s best interest and urged them to be bold and decisive on the job, even while facing challenges.

More than 40 people, including retired track legend Usain Bolt, were allegedly defrauded of approximately $3 billion from private investment company, Stocks & Securities Limited. No one has been charged to date, but a former employee of the company has been implicated in the fraud.

But in addressing public concerns about the conviction rate for white-collar crimes, the DPP urged Jamaicans to manage their expectations.

“It’s so easy for people to say, ‘Why don’t we have more prosecution of corruption matters?’ ‘Why don’t we have more prosecutions of politicians or anybody else…people within the financial industry?’ And I say again – This is not CSI or Law and Order,” she said, in reference to the popular television crime drama shows.

“The prosecution of crimes, and especially financial crimes, is not a cartoon because you have to deal very much with what I’m calling the human condition. Because very often you are investigating or prosecuting and one of your witnesses or two of your witnesses were willfully blind,” she said.

And unlike what might be displayed in these shows, Llewellyn said that financial crimes are often not the most attractive as it normally involves scrutinising boxes of documents and papers.

“You tend to find for some investigators, some prosecutors and indeed some judges, financial crimes are not particularly sexy,” Llewellyn added.