Fighting financial crime: failure is not an option

Author:Shazeeda Ali
Position:Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Purpose The purpose of this study is to provide an overview of some of the deficiencies in the criminal justice system in Jamaica, particularly relating to financial crime. The author also examines possible alternatives in the approach that may be taken in tackling financial crime. Design/methodology/approach The methodology used was a review of data on financial crime in Jamaica as ... (see full summary)

Fighting nancial crime: failure is
not an option
Shazeeda Ali
Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
Purpose The purpose of this study is to providean overview of some of the deciencies in the criminal
justice system in Jamaica, particularly relating to nancial crime. The author also examines possible
alternativesin the approach that may be taken in tackling nancialcrime.
Design/methodology/approach The methodology used was a review of data on nancial crime in
Jamaica as well as recent signicantcases. An analysis of key pieces of legislation was also undertaken. In
some instances,a comparative approach was invoked, withspecial reference to the UK and US laws.
Findings Some essential ndings includethe positive impact that may be gained from restorativejustice
principles, the effective enforcement of asset recovery provisions and stricter regulation of the nancial
Originality/value There is no similar comprehensiveexamination of these issues concerning Jamaica.
Keywords Asset recovery, Jamaica, Financial crime, Criminal justice system, Restorative justice
Paper type Research paper
This article seeks to explore some of the shortcomings in the criminal justice system in Jamaica,
particularly relating to perpetrators of nancial crimes and to identify suitable alternatives for
dealing with such offences. Within this framework, the author will examine asset recovery
mechanisms under the proceeds of crime legislation, emerging restorative justice measures, as
well as devices available to nancial regulators to tackle the scourge of nancial crime.
The term nancial crime covers a wide range of offences in which the modus operandi
and the objective of the perpetrator involve the acquisition and/or retention of ill-gotten
gains. These include activities such as fraud, tax evasion, corruption, insider dealing,
market abuse, terroristnancing and money laundering.
Financial crimeshave a number of deleterious consequences, which may have:
a major impact on the international banking and nancial sectors;
a negative inuence on the entire economic and social system, through the
considerable loss of money incurred; and
an adverse effect on individuals, companies, organizations and even nations.
Scope of the problem in Jamaica
Jamaica continues to experience a large number of nancial crimes, particularly related to
lottery scams, corruption,extortion and cybercrime (US Department of State, 2018a). Money
laundering in Jamaica is primarily related to proceeds from illegal narcotics and fraud
This article is based on a paper presented by the author on September 6, 2017 at the 35th Cambridge
International Symposium on Economic Crime, Cambridge, UK.
nancial crime
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.27 No. 1, 2020
pp. 1-23
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-04-2019-0050
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
schemes, which are largely controlled by organized criminal groups (US Department of
State, 2018a).
Indeed, there are dozens of violent gangs in Jamaica. Most are responsible for the drug
trade and fraud scams that generate colossalillicit prots. These organized criminals invoke
money laundering and corruptionas a means of insulating themselves and their money from
law enforcement. Further, many of these gangs use violence as a way of protecting their
The result is that Jamaica has been classied as a major money laundering country
whose nancial institutionsengage in currency transactions involving signicant amounts
of proceeds from international narcotics trafcking(US Department of State, 2018a).
Jamaica was also ranked 70 out of 180 countries listed on Transparency Internationals
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) (Transparency International, 2017). In fact, overthe past
decade, Jamaica has consistently registered low scores on the CPI, leaning towards the
highly corruptend of the spectrum and giving credence to the notion that corruption is
indeed a serious problem.(Caribbean Policy Research Unit (CAPRI), 2017). Perhaps the
most disturbing statistic is that Jamaica has one of the highest per capita homiciderates in
the region (US Departmentof State, 2018a).
In recognition of the connectionbetween violence, corruption and money laundering, the
National Security Policy of Jamaica categorizes money laundering and corruption as Tier1
threats. This means that these offences represent high-impact, high-probability threats that
are clear and present dangers to the state, its economy, its integrity and the lives of its
citizens. These top priority threats require an active response and, thus, Key Action #1 on
the National Security Policy is Remove the Prot from Crime(Government of Jamaica,
The following part of the article will examine some of the challenges that may be
encountered in the criminaljustice system when seeking to take the prot out of crime.
Part I: conventional justice
Dening justice. We want justice!
Wi waan justice![1]
No matter how it is said, the phrase resonates in the streets, in the media, in Jamaica
and across the world but what do people reallywant? In other words, what is this justice
that we all cry for?
The generic or dictionary denition of justice revealsthat it is simply the state of being
fair and reasonable. However, this objective terminology assumes many different,
sometimes subjective,meanings, depending on who is pleading for justice.
For some, it may be the desire to be treated equitably before the courts; for others it is a
quest for unbiased conduct by the police. Yet still, many view justice on a broader scale to
embrace the responsibility of the state to ensureconsistent and equal application of its rules
and procedures to all citizens, so as to exclude intrinsically unfair or unjust practices, such
as corruption.
Justice is not one-sidedand, as such, victims of crime require justice in the sameway that
accused persons require fair treatment beforethe law. In the current dispensation, one may
ask, how much justice is achievedin the context of countering nancial crime?
The criminal justice system is fraught with a number of problems, which can occur at
every stage of the process. Such issues may arise pre-trial,during the trial or even post-trial.
Many of the challenges relate to delays and mismanagement,often resulting in injustice.
At the pre-trial stage, a prosecution may be compromised by deciencies in police
investigations, lengthy delays pending trial, improper pre-trial detention practices and the

To continue reading