The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has been instrumental in the seizure of US$957,564, £40,135 and Can$6,435 at the nation’s ports and has investigated 62 financial cases since April 2021.
There was also the forfeiture of US$207,201.00 and Can$17,450.00 to the Crown under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The disclosure was made by Commissioner of Customs and Chief Executive Officer of the JCA, Velma Ricketts-Walker, at a Joint Press Conference on Broadening the Use of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) Law Enforcement, on Thursday, March 10.
The Commissioner pointed out that the movement of illicit money very often traverses international borders, and that the JCA has an essential responsibility in the fight against money laundering and cutting the financial lifeline of transnational organised crime.
Mrs. Ricketts-Walker explained that the agency is empowered to fight cross cross-border illicit activity and was strident in declaring the agency’s no-tolerance approach in this regard.
“I have said it before, and I will repeat, the Jamaica Customs Agency has waged war on persons and criminals seeking to use the channels of trade as an avenue to further their illegal or illicit activities. Therefore, be warned – the JCA remains vigilant and will leave no stone unturned as we continue to enhance our border-protection capabilities,” the Commissioner said.
She explained that among the core mandates of the JCA is border protection.
“This is done through the use of dedicated human resources, with the support of the relevant tools, instruments, agreements and legislation, coupled with strong collaboration with other law-enforcement agencies or divisions,” the CEO said.
The Commissioner highlighted the JCA’s long-standing collaboration with the Financial Investigations Division (FID), which she said has proven to be mutually beneficial in curtailing the cases of money laundering and lottery scamming.
She added that the partnership has also been integral in disrupting the free flow of cross-border movement of illicitly gained cash and resulted in greater capacity building for Customs.
Mrs. Ricketts-Walker highlighted the JCA’s participation in the Financial Investigation Training and Financial Action Accreditation Programme, and the evolution of the programme which underscores “the serious and advanced nature of the programme to which the JCA continues to pledge its support by ensuring accreditation of its team members”.
She pointed out that the JCA currently provides agency functions for the FID in keeping records of persons who travel through the country’s international airports with significant amounts of cash, which were either voluntarily declared or not declared.
“This enables the FID to track the movement of cash and to also maintain a record of individuals involved in the transportation of cash,” the Commissioner said.
The most recent case involved the seizure of US$71,000 from an individual associated with alleged cryptocurrency business, in which a multi-agency investigative approach was taken.
“It is, therefore, a strategic decision to continue the collaboration between the JCA and the FID, as the coordinated efforts can only serve to provide far greater results, and importantly, reduction of financial crimes,” Mrs. Ricketts-Walker said.
The Commissioner said that the JCA continues to strengthen its mechanisms in the prevention of cross-border entry of money, goods and property, which are proceeds of crime.
“We will continue to collaborate and partner with our various enforcement agencies, including the FID, as together with our various resources and capabilities, we will seek to stamp out illicit activities,” she added.