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West: FIU can probe LifeSport

...without being asked to do so

By Mark Fraser

With the relevant legislation already in place in the country and more on the way, it is within the remit of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to investigate agencies such as the controversial LifeSport Programme on its own without any instructions to do so.
This was the view expressed by attorney-at-law David West yesterday as he spoke during a seminar titled “Anti-Money Laundering and the Internal Auditor” hosted by the Institute of Internal Auditors at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Mt Hope.
“As it stands, the FIU has the legal capacity to investigate the LifeSport Programme without specific instructions being sent to them to do so. Anyone who does investigations into money laundering would observe questionable practices being reported in the media, especially recently, and if they viewed the operations on the surface to be within their remit, the FIU can go on their own and begin investigations into that programme to determine if indeed any impropriety is being conducted,” West said.
The attorney, who is an expert in the field of extradition and anti-money laundering laws, and is based at El Dorado Chambers in Port of Spain, also noted that in his opinion, this country didn’t seem to be taking the threat of terrorist financing seriously.
“It doesn’t seem like we see it for how dangerous it really is, nor are we serious about treating terrorist financing as an offence. But we really should, especially given our history with the 1990 coup, and with the various international companies we have operating on our soil and not to mention the various charities which are not registered and could easily be used to launder money to a variety of organisations,” West said. —AB
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