Financial institutions and businesses have reported more than $3 billion (US$467 million) was laundered in Trinidad and Tobago over the last four years.
Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Susan Francois in making this announcement said the money was suspected to come from criminal activity.
“This was not legal money, this was money that the financial institutions and businesses reasonably suspected come from crime,” she said.
The FIU director said the huge profit, which only represented the amounts reported, showed the attraction of crime “and that is why people take the risk, that is why they conduct criminal activity, that is why they commit crime, because of the huge profits generated.”
Francois was at the time speaking at the University of the Southern Caribbean in Maracas, a few miles from Port of Spain at the launch of Money Laundering and Financial Crimes Institute in Trinidad and Tobago.
She said that while people consider money laundering as white collar crime, the three billion dollars which were reported came from violent crime while white collar crime does not usually involve violence, or injury to persons.
“That three billion dollars, a lot of it could have come from kidnapping; murder for profit; extortion; intimidation and related offences such as drug trafficking; trafficking in arms; human trafficking and those crimes cause destruction, serious bodily harm, if not death to persons,” she added.
Francois said tracing the money back to criminals was necessary in order to detect the crime and prosecute criminals, and to dismantle the criminal network and seize and confiscate their criminal wealth.
She said measure to deter and detect the crime were crucial strategies in combatting the crime and money-laundering.
Francois noted, just as drug traffickers find inventive ways to hide and smuggle their drugs, so the money launderers will find new ways to disguise and move the money earned from illegal activity.