The Ministry of National Security is warning citizens not to attempt to replace their ill-gained funds with clean money as the country transitions from old to new $100 notes.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Ministry reminded citizens of provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act Chapter 11:27 as amended.
Section 52 states:
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if:
a. He knows or suspects that another person is engaged in money laundering;
b. The information or other matter on which that knowledge or suspicion is based, came to his attention in the course of his trade, profession, business or employment; and
c. He does not disclose the information or other matter to a police officer as soon as is reasonably practicable after it comes to his attention.
The statement says that a person who commits an offence under Section 52 is liable on Summary Conviction to a fine of $250,000 and to imprisonment for three years.
It says that a person employed in the service of the State as a public officer or on contract, who commits an offence under Section 52, is liable on Summary Conviction to a fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment for five years.
Section 45 (1) states that a person commits an offence of money laundering if:
(1) A person who knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that property is criminal property and:
a. engages directly or indirectly in a transaction that involves that criminal property; or
b. receives, possesses, conceals, disposes of, disguises, transfers, brings into, or sends out of Trinidad and Tobago, that criminal property; or
c. converts, transfers or removes from Trinidad and Tobago that criminal property.
A person who commits an offence under Section 45 is liable –
On summary conviction to a fine of twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000.00) and to imprisonment for fifteen (15) years; and
On conviction on indictment, to a fine of fifty million dollars ($50,000,000.00) and to imprisonment for thirty (30) years;
A person who knowingly attempts, aids, abets, conspires, procures or otherwise facilitates the commission of an offence under Section 45, commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of twenty five million dollars ($25,000,000.00) and to imprisonment for fifteen (15) years.
Section 38 (1) states:
38. (1) A Customs and Excise Officer of the rank of Grade III or higher, or a Police Officer of the rank of Sergeant or higher, may seize from any person and in accordance with this section, detain any cash in accordance with this section if its amount is more than the prescribed sum.
(1A) A Customs and Excise Officer or Police Officer referred to in subsection (1), may seize and detain cash only, where he has reason to believe that the cash directly or indirectly represents any person’s proceeds of a specified offence, or is intended by any person for use in the commission of such an offence.
The prescribed sum referred to is twenty thousand dollars ($20,000.00).
Money laundering takes place in many ways including, but not limited to, the exchange of cash from proceeds of crime for goods, eg. jewelry, real estate, motor vehicles, large quantities of liquor, etc.
Persons are warned that to facilitate money laundering is a criminal offence and would result in individuals being subject to criminal liability.