Caribbean Money Laundering Choke Hold

May 10, 2017 Crime , OPINION/NEWS , South America

CMC photo

 

By

Ricardo Swire

Sophisticated money laundering schemes invisibly bankroll transnational drug cartels’ presence in the Caribbean community. The cold war’s end signaled the start of an era where Russian organized crime syndicates formed alliances with Italian Mafia and Colombian drug cartels to invest billions of dollars looted from the former Soviet Union coffers.

Caribbean banks such as the European Union Bank (EUB) chartered in Antigua as well as financial institutions in Aruba, the Cayman Islands and St. Maarten were chosen to launder criminal gains.

In the recent past documented evidence gave account of a US$4 million robbery from a Trinidadian depositor’s private Cayman Islands First Caribbean International Bank account. With complicity of select lawyers in Guyana and Barbados, along with a Caymanian banker, the stolen cash was laundered via the bogus YM Guy-Caribe Foundation’s account held with the Bank of Bahamas. A legal co-conspirator and former Speaker of The House in Guyana recruited one of his own Law Chamber’s ex-employees to fraudulently access the Trinidadian victim’s US$4 million in the Cayman account.

A Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Financial Crimes Unit report noted the senior Guyanese attorney received US$750,000 and engaged the Managing Director of ATC Trustees (Cayman) to transfer remanence of the cash to account number 651-968-0, at Bank of St Lucia International Limited (BOSIL). The first US$20,000 deposit was listed as repayment of a personal loan. Other account activities described as “deposits from income and overseas investments,” average monthly balances were US$150,000.

Caribbean internal security professionals monitor St Lucia’s black-market that caters explicitly to gold, silver and high-quality jewelry smuggled from Guyana. False declarations, bogus invoices and fraudulent commercial tax evasion stratagems routinely bombard Guyana’s Customs & Excise Department. One international economic crimes overseer, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has Guyana under heavy scrutiny. Decision makers ponder adding the country to its Blacklist, a step already taken by its offshoot, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).

Guyana’s notoriety of drug trafficking fuels the country’s gang warfare, extortion and murder rate. In November 2013 CFATF blacklisted Guyana quoting “ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risk emanating from the country” as reasons. In February 2014 American law enforcement efforts shuttered a US$1 billion drugs trafficking network. Italy’s Ndrangheta crime syndicate teamed up with a Mexican drugs cartel operating in Guyana. Cocaine and heroin consignments, hidden in fruits and frozen fish, were smuggled via a Guyanese shipping company.

The US Department of State’s 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), mandated by the Foreign Assistance Act, named eighteen Caribbean countries on its list, St Lucia identified among eighty-eight “Major Money Laundering Countries.” The INCR informed “money laundering in St. Lucia primarily relates to drug trafficking. Illicit drug trafficking by organized crime rings and the laundering of drug proceeds by domestic and foreign criminal elements remain serious problems for St. Lucia.”

On February 10, 2016 Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) detectives executed a search warrant at a Venezuelan national’s local residence in Rodney Heights, €10,000 and US$131,720 worth of cash seized. In early February 2017 RSLPF officers intercepted a vehicle at the Grande Riviere, Dennery bypass. the same Venezuelan and a St Lucian occupant illegally transporting US$395,000 cash.

Both men were charged with money laundering and illegal possession of more than Eastern Caribbean $1 million in American currency. On the night of May 4, 2017 a thirty-six year old St Lucian female was intercepted by Guyana Police Force (GPF) officers positioned at Cheddi Jagan International Airport. The intelligence guided GPF Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) detectives found US44,688 worth of undeclared cash in the St Lucian female passenger’s possession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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