by Linda Straker
Lawyers in Grenada now have a better understanding of the laws and regulations about anti-money laundering, and were told that they should always guard against the possibility of them being used by a client to engage in money laundering.
“Always guard against the possibility that someone is using you… they will charm you, they will give you gifts and regardless of all this they really don’t care a damn about what happens to you,” was one of the advice from Paul Garlick QC, when he facilitated an “Anti-Money Laundering Terrorist Financing” Seminar for lawyers.
Held last Saturday, at the Radisson Convention Centre, the seminar was the last activity for Law Week — organised annually by the Grenada Bar Association which began on 30 October, under the theme “Empowering others, Empowering ourselves.”
The seminar itself was organised as a collaborative effort between the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Bar, as part of the FIU commitment to undergo educational sessions with professionals who are affected directly and sometimes indirectly by its work with support from the US Embassy in Grenada.
Explaining that money laundering and serious crimes go hand–in–hand, Garlick told the lawyers that they have a fundamental duty to support the rule of law. “You should not take any and everything for granted,” he told the participants, while explaining that the seminar was really about how to protect their name and their liberty.
He pointed out that under the laws that focus on anti-money laundering and terrorist finance, lawyers have various obligations and no one but them should ensure that they are complying with the regulations.
“You have an obligation to ensure that you do not commit any of the substantive offences in the Proceeds of Crime Act, and you must also ensure that you comply with the requirement of the SROs,” he advised the lawyers, as he read out some of the penalties for lawyers who fail to comply with the various legislation on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.
“Of very importance to lawyers is section 34, which is about assisting another to retain the benefit of criminal conduct,” he said. Failure to comply with this section can result in a lawyer receiving a jail term of up to 5 years or being fined EC$500,000 or both for a summary offence, while on indictment charges it will be 14 years.
“So if you suspect or know that the transaction you are working on is a principal offence, you risk committing an offence yourself and you should avoid it; avoiding here means you need to know your client and you should also engage in due diligence of your client,” Garlick told the participants.