JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, has called on realtors to ensure that they do due diligence, when engaging in transactions with clients, as part of efforts to stamp out money laundering and narcotics trafficking.
  • He also pointed out that professionals, including lawyers, accountants, bankers and realtors, who facilitate money laundering, could be made liable for prosecution, under the Proceeds of Crime (amended) Act (2013).
  • Minister Bunting said the current National Security Policy highlights the removal of profit from crime as one of its key priority areas.

Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, has called on realtors to ensure that they do due diligence, when engaging in transactions with clients, as part of efforts to stamp out illegal activities, including money laundering and narcotics trafficking.

“You may consider this (doing due diligence) as an unnecessary burden…but if our financial institutions are to be integrated into the international financial system we have to be compliant as a country…” Minister Bunting outlined.

He also pointed out that professionals, including lawyers, accountants, bankers and realtors, who facilitate money laundering, could be made liable for prosecution, under the Proceeds of Crime (amended) Act (2013), which prohibits cash transactions in excess of One Million Jamaican Dollars (section 101 A), or, to splinter payments in smaller portions.

Noting that “criminals are not in the business of crime; but in the business of making money,” Minister Bunting said the current National Security Policy highlights the removal of profit from crime as one of its key priority areas.

The Minister was speaking at the Realtors Association of Jamaica’s Annual General Meeting, at New Kingston Conference Centre, on September 25, 2014.

Minister Bunting, further explained,  that the newly formed Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency has also spread its prongs to include not only criminals, but also the facilitators of their activities, noting that since recently, several professionals, including a real estate developer and lawyer have been charged in this regard.

“Organised crime, cannot succeed without professionals; facilitators, laundering the money and sealing their assets,” Minister Bunting stressed, “and this burden which is being put on you is to make it more difficult for organised crime to do that, without being detected. “And if you have compliance across the sector it does not give any competitive advantage to anyone,” he stated.

The Minister also noted that Parliament had passed the Ministerial Order, to create an oversight regime for designated non-financial businesses and professions (such as lawyers, accountants, realtors), which creates a competent authority in each case, to be the supervisory body over the particular group. This, he highlighted, imposes the responsibility on the body to report suspicious transactions, such as money laundering.

Additionally, he also urged realtors to do background checks on persons to whom they may rent or lease premises, as, under the Anti-Lottery Scam Act, they may be held liable for knowingly facilitating activities, such as scamming, for which they can receive up to 15 years.

Minister Bunting urged the realtors to play their part, as it will serve to strengthen the Government’s Unite for Change initiative which encourages well-thinking Jamaicans to take a stance against crime at every level, and to contribute towards making Jamaica “the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.”