Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Griffith: Ideal time to go after the ‘big fish’


Not just lip service: National Security Minister Gary Griffith

Mark Fraser

NOW is the ideal time to go after the “big fish” in this country, National Security Minister Gary Griffith has said.

Griffith made the statement yesterday as he spoke to members of the media after delivering the feature address at the International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation Training at Cascadia Hotel in St Ann’s.

The training will take place over three days.

The Senate is expected to debate The Miscellaneous Provisions (Proceeds of Crime Anti-Terrorism, Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago) (No. 2) Bill, 2014 today at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.

“It is really to tighten that situation where criminal elements have exploited loopholes in the system and, again, crime is a product of opportunity and if the opportunity presents itself, if it is they can beat the law enforcement situation, they can beat the judiciary, we can get them through the aspect of tightening the belt if they get through everything through the aspect of financing,” Griffith said.

“If it is you have certain assets, and you cannot account for how you have acquired the assets, then it gives us the avenue to pinpoint the fact that, listen, you have acquired these assets and these profits through illegal means and that will go a very long way to deal with the concerns that we have had for so long in this country about white collar crime, so you know many times people speak about only going after the small fish, well, this is an ideal opportunity for us to go after the big fish and to deal with them and by doing this it is going to prevent major aspects of criminal activity, which actually can go into other aspects of heinous crime, because they now have the assets that they can use to fund their criminal trade through the importation of drugs, weapons and even to pay their gang members,” he said.

When he delivered the feature address at the training session, Griffith said Trinidad and Tobago is preparing for the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Mutual Evaluation next January.

He said the Government is not just paying “lip service to these insidious economic crimes”.

“We have gotten to the stage where we are genuinely desirous of protecting our country from the corrosive effects of money laundering and terrorist financing,” Griffith said.