Money laundering — clear and present danger to Jamaica

Chief Technical Director, Financial Investigations, Security Policy and Risk Management Affairs, Ministry of National Security, Rohan Richards, says money laundering is a clear and present danger to the country.

Mr. Richards said money laundering represents an estimated 2.8 per cent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP).

— Rohan Richards, Chief Technical Director, Financial Investigations, Security Policy and Risk Management Affairs, Ministry of National Security

He emphasised that the problem is such that Jamaica’s National Security Policy ranks “facilitators who launder the proceeds of crime” as a Tier One threat, which requires an active and immediate response.

“We all know that these funds, which are oftentimes proceeds from illicit activities such as trafficking in persons, trafficking in firearms, cybercrime and terrorism, enable the growth of organised criminal networks, which often operate with impunity and continuously erode the fabric of citizen security and good governance,” Mr. Richards said.

“We all know that these funds…enable the growth of organised criminal networks”

— Rohan Richards, Chief Technical Director, Financial Investigations, Security Policy and Risk Management Affairs, Ministry of National Security

“It is true that when these funds are introduced into the legitimate financial system, they have the potential to compromise the integrity of the financial sector, to weaken the role of the financial sector in economic growth and increase the risk of macroeconomic instability,” he added.

“The amount of money laundered annually ranges between US$800 billion and US$2 trillion”

— Rohan Richards, Chief Technical Director, Financial Investigations, Security Policy and Risk Management Affairs, Ministry of National Security

Mr. Richards said that all is not lost, as a CARICOM Regional Security Strategy “speaks to the fact” that an aggressive and successful programme of asset forfeiture could cripple organised crime in the region.

“As the Strategy reminds us, these assets and parts of the funds seized should be made available to law-enforcement and crime-prevention initiatives. In assessing the impact of money laundering, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the amount of money laundered annually ranges between two and five per cent of global GDP or between US$800 billion and US$2 trillion,” he noted.

Mr. Richards pointed out that money is a part of all organised crime, and CARICOM states are particularly susceptible to money laundering, due to the prevalence of illicit drugs and the firearms trade, which require complicity from the facilitators of crime. 

“Countries of the region, therefore, have a responsibility to develop their capacity to manage the information and utilise intelligence in order to effectively manage their anti-money laundering (AML) risks,” he said.