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Solicitor General says POCA amendments do not infringe on constitution

Published:Tuesday | March 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Solicitor General, Nicole Foster Pusey, has submitted that amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) do not infringe on the constitution and that the laws are not arbitrary.

Foster Pusey was making submissions in the application filed by the Jamaican Bar Association challenging the amendments which, among other things, require lawyers to report clients suspected of being involved in financial crimes.

She argued that the legal profession is vulnerable and can be used unwittingly to facilitate money laundering.

The Solicitor General told the court that the amendments to POCA are to ensure that Jamaica is in compliance with international obligations regarding anti-money laundering, counter terrorism and financial crimes.

Foster Pusey argued that any failure to meet these obligations would result in foreign governments, multilateral agents and overseas counterparts considering Jamaica as a high risk for money laundering and adjust their business relationship accordingly.

The Bar Association is objecting to sections of the amended Financial Investigation Division and Proceeds of Crime Acts which were approved by Parliament in July.

The Bar Association claims the new requirements will damage the rights of Jamaicans to an independent legal profession and erode the fundamental principles of justice.

The Association also contends that the provision which allows the authorities to examine the files of attorneys facilitates State access to information which breaches attorney-client confidentiality.

It wants the law to be stuck down on the grounds that it breaches the constitution.