The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), headed by Susan Francois—sister of slain Dana Seetahal SC—will be given more powers to go after the criminals, Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar has said.
He disclosed this during his contribution to the Administration of Justice Bill, 2014 at the Parliament sitting yesterday at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
Ramadhar, Congress of the People (COP) political leader, said the Legislative Review Committee (LRC) was working on modernising the legislation to give the FIU more teeth.
He said the irony is that Francois heads this unit that will work towards clamping down on the criminal activities in this country.
Seetahal, 58, was gunned down in Woodbrook on Sunday while on her way home.
Said Ramadhar: “You know the irony, you spoke about the death of Dana, you know who heads that FIU, her sister. The reason I make that connection is this, sometimes the stars align in the most evil of things, the most heinous of experiences for change to come and if Dana’s life is to mean anything, and I worked with her for 25 years, she always sought justice.”
Government, he said, has given resources to all institutions to restore justice in society.
“And if evil is really founded in the love for money and we give them that power to go after the money, whether you are a tax evader, whether you are a money launderer, whether you are involved in gangland activity, kidnapping, murder and all these things, we are going with a modern approach to it,” said Ramadhar.
He took issue with what he said was a “mockery” of Government’s $2.5 million reward for information leading to the conviction of Seetahal’s killers.
“History is replete with examples of bounty being put to ensure that crime is solved. In the great United States, Osama bin Laden, you know how much the bounty was? Even the member for Diego Martin North East would have sell himself for that US$25 million,” said Ramadhar.
Opposition MP Colm Imbert immediately objected to Ramadhar’s statement saying “this member likes to parade himself as holier than thou” and his “disgusting” comment must be withdrawn with apology.
Ramadhar withdrew the remark adding, “I apologise to have offended your conscience, Sir.”
Imbert said Ramadhar was insulting the House with his “half baked” apology and asked for another apology.
Without complying, Ramadhar continued saying the $2.5 million bounty was a “responsible effort” on Government’s part.
“If we could solve this crime we could solve any other and that is the message that has been lost in the society, and that is why there is the belief that one can do all the evil things that you wish and in particular the most heinous of murders without any consequence and we need to reset the equation on that,” said Ramadhar.
He said something has gone wrong in this country where there is an action without a reaction.
La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffrey, who spoke on the heels of Ramadhar, expressed his deep sympathies to Seetahal’s family over her death.
“I look forward for the early apprehension, conviction and sentencing of those perpetrators who took the life of this great legal luminary and so to for the other 160 persons who would have lost their life in Trinidad and Tobago for this year,” said Jeffrey.