Kearney commended Dominica for amending the Proceeds of Crime Act

Kearney commended Dominica for amending the Proceeds of Crime Act

Dominica has seized over $362,000 from criminals since the island amended the Proceeds of Crime Act in May 2013, according to Program Manager-Caribbean Criminal Assets Recovery Program (CCARP), Eamon Kearney.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 8th annual Proceeds of Crime Practitioners Conference on Wednesday, Kearney commended Dominica for amending the act which allows full civil forfeiture powers, provisions for confiscation in the Magistrates court, and the power to seize cash from criminals.

He noted the money seized has been taken out of the “criminal economy.”

“The government of Dominica should be commended for taking these bold steps,” he stated. “Taking assets of criminals provides the unique opportunity to reinvest this money in law enforcement, the criminal justice system and social programs that help the victims of crime and those in society most affected by crime.”

According to Kearney, a clear message needs to be sent to all involved in crime and those tempted by crime that it will not pay.

He noted that the conference provides the opportunity for law enforcement officers to share the best practices, and discuss new and innovative ways of recovering assets from criminals.

“This conference is important because serious and organized crime threatens national security by fueling violence, breeding insecurity, creating instability and weakening governance. In doing so it poses a significant threat to prosperity, threatening economic growth by discouraging inward investment and creating barriers to business,” he said.

Kearney pointed out further that criminals often fight harder to protect their assets from confiscation than they do to avoid the prison sentence imposed for their crime. He stated that having in place a robust asset recovery regime sends a very clear message to those engaged in serious organized crime that they will not profit from their criminality.

In the meantime, Attorney General, Levi Peter, added that if the benefit of acquiring assets through crime is removed, there will be less incentive for individuals to commit crimes.

“The Dominica approach has been to do all that we can from a government perspective to holster the tools to fight this criminal activity by enhancing the legislation to support those engaged in law enforcement,” he said.

Peter indicated that when an asset is seized from criminals, it is deposited into the Assets Forfeiture Fund to be reinvested into the economy.

He encouraged participants of the conference to recognize the importance of the work that they do.

“The work that you do underpins the stability of our various jurisdictions and ultimately our region as a whole and it may be said that it filters in on the stability of the international financial system as a whole,” he said. “If we as individual jurisdictions do not have a substantive and robust financial system that is considered and recognized to be of integrity then the results will be that the quality of life for our various inhabitants will be greatly diminished.”