In 2021, the Financial Investigations Branch (FIB) charged four people with money laundering with a cumulative value of TT $30,747,417 and it’s anticipated that this year, more people will face similar charges.
This was disclosed on Fruday during the T&T Police Service’s media briefing by acting Senior Superintendent Wendell Lucas of the FIB.
Lucas said the branch was given instructions to charge three others for money laundering last year but they were not able to detain the suspects, “though we suspect that in this 2022, we would be able to arrest those persons and bring them before the court for the offences.”
He noted that 2020 and 2021 were extremely challenging for everyone and for the world and further disclosed that the FIB has been hit by the ongoing pandemic. However, he gave the assurance that they have weathered the storm somewhat and continue to persevere in the interests to the people of T&T.
Lucas also warned people about taking investment advice that offer bis returns, saying that due diligence checks should be made with the Security and Exchange Commission “to see whether or not the items that the persons are offering advice on are registered with the SEC, before you part with your money.”
He said, “Sometimes if it is too good to be true, maybe it really is too good to be true and you should be careful, especially in these times. Second, we have persons parting with hard-earned money for the purchase of items through government auctions.
“Please, if there is a government auction and you want to participate in it, I would advise that persons have been scammed into parting with their money on the pretext that they are purchasing items from government auctions and they are asked to deposit money into accounts and they have been doing that, so we would like to advise, before you part with money, check to see if it’s publicly advertised and if you’re not certain just call the government agency so you can be sure you are parting with your money for something legitimate.” Lucas said the FIB has also seen an increase in money remittance to countries around the world from citizens in T&T.
He said: “Persons are being asked to provide their identification cards to other persons so money can be remitted out of the country. So you are being paid a small fee to remit thousands of dollars out of T&T. I would like to warn against this practice. You are unaware of who the money is going to and what it is going to be used for. So we would like to advise persons to desist immediately from having your ID cards used to remit money out of the country by persons for a meagre fee, as you may find yourself having to answer some serious questions if the money is used or sent to persons bent on criminal activity or engage in matters which run afoul of matters that fall under anti-terrorism legislation.”
Though 2021 has been extremely challenging for the FIB, the branch was able to seize TT$4.1M from criminal entities.
Lucas said the branch was able to forfeit to the State TT$705,374.38 and US$685,092 to the State.
“This money will be placed into our seized asset fund and will be used to benefits organisation and entities and treat with depressed areas and persons who have suffered over the last two years as a result of the ongoing pandemic,” Lucas said.