Financial crime can damage the stability, confidence and reputation of the financial sector of countries, and threaten the viability of the Caricom Single Market and Economy.
Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, gave this caution as he addressed over 400 delegates attending the official opening ceremony of an international conference for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), hosted by the Egmont Group and the local FIU at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre recently.
Such financial crimes, warned Mr. Brathwaite, could take the form of trading, fraud, ???kick-backs???, identity theft, money laundering and terrorist financing.
???Transnational organised crimes embody all criminal activity. There is an established nexus between organised activities such as illegal drugs, human trafficking and money laundering. These types of crimes, if left unhindered, bring extensive acts of violence on communities and can generate corruption among public officials and law enforcement officers,??? the Attorney General stressed.
He added that there was also the risk of convergence between criminals and professionals involved in a blend of legitimate and illegitimate businesses, which helped to facilitate money laundering and other financial crimes.
Noting that the outcome could result in the disruption of the social and economic fabric of societies, Mr. Brathwaite said FIUs played an important role in the process.
And, he gave the assurance that local officials continued to be vigilant as developments of financial crimes, especially those involving money laundering and financing terrorists, compelled them to critically review the island???s legislative framework.
He explained that the Cabinet agreed to revisit the island???s Anti-Money Laundering legislation to ensure that property belonging to those engaged in illegal activity could be forfeited.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General revealed that Government had already passed several pieces of legislation such as the Transnational Organised Crime Act, to prevent human trafficking; the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Prevention Control Act; the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Anti-Corruption Act.
These were passed in an effort to bring money launderers, traffickers and other criminals to justice and disrupt opportunities for persons to benefit from ill-gotten gains.
In addition, the Minister said Barbados??? FIU worked closely with the Royal Barbados Police Force and continued to enter into formal agreements with foreign-based units as a means of gathering intelligence and exchanging and sharing information on suspicious activity.
Mr. Brathwaite also reminded those present of the need to be aware of the influence of information technology through the use of devices such as tablets, laptops, cellphones and computers.
These, he said, created opportunities for accelerated information exchange and could have one of two results. On one hand, it could be positive and allow for the easy exchange of information, while at the same time affording criminals the opportunity to communicate easily across borders.