The Barbados government says it will soon introduce amended legislation that allow law enforcement to confiscate the property of criminals who commit a wide range of offences.
Attorney General Dale Marshall said that the new Proceeds and Instrumentalities of Crime Bill 2019 will also provide for offenders who got rich off those ill-gotten gains within the last 20 years not to be safe from prosecution.
“It is intended to strike at essentially those assets that are in the possession of the criminal element of our country, where those assets are either themselves the proceeds of crime or are intended or have been used in the commission of crime or in unlawful conduct,” Marshall told Parliament as he outlined the government’s plans to tackle criminals who have accumulated wealth by illegal means.
He told legislators that while there was a Proceeds of Crime Act which had been enacted in 1990 and had been amended in 1998 and 2002, there were still glaring deficiencies.
Marshall said it allowed the Crown to confiscate proceeds of crime only in connection with drug offences and those related to terrorism.
“So the Proceeds of Crime legislation that we have today in Barbados and that has been here for the past 29 years, was focused solely on proceeds from drug crime or terrorism-related crime.
“So that the Proceeds of Crime legislation that we have, if you put terrorism associated issues aside, effectively we look only at proceeds of drug-related crime. Now that is a glaring deficiency,” Marshall said, adding that the amended legislation would cover proceeds from corruption, money laundering, and racketeering among others.
He said also that 20 years prior to this new legislation being passed, criminals would still stand to lose their monies and properties if found guilty.
“So the limitation period is a 20-year period, 20 years after you acquire the proceeds of crime. So while you have 20 years after the ill-gotten gains are acquired… that 20 years is not only looking forward, it also looks backward.”
Marshall told Parliament that a portion of the monies confiscated from such proceedings will go towards a regional account to help in the Caribbean’s fight against crime, while the remaining would go towards helping to fund law enforcement in Barbados.