The head of the Police Service’s Financial Investigative Branch (FIB) believes the current efforts to change T&T's cotton based $100 bills to polymer notes, would put a major dent in those engaging in criminal activity, seeking ways to wash their money clean.
Superintendent Wendell Lucas has confirmed that there has been an increase of suspicious and even counterfeit money going into circulation, since the exercise began last week.
The FIB boss says more suspect money will be unearthed as it continues, as those who have been hoarding their secret stashes—of possibly ill-gotten gains—have no choice but to bring them out.
“I think it was a good move and I think it’s going to bear fruit,” he asserts. “I think it is something that law enforcement will benefit from, because obviously, those persons who depend on their money to fuel their criminal activity, will not have access to the money in a very short space of time.”
According to Superintendent Lucas, while there is no special watch-list of persons who may engage in suspicious transactions, any persons who are flagged by the financial institution, will be interviewed on site. He says should a deeper interview be required, those persons would be asked to go to the FIB’s office for that.
“A simple interview with persons would cause us to make a determination as to whether these persons are able or are unable account for their money,” the Superintendent says.
He told us that many people seeking to change over to the new bills, are having a challenge explaining how they were able to amass such large sums.
“We know that there are persons who are bent on criminality,” he points out. “And there are persons who may be trying to get their money into the financial system with the typical money laundering scheme of placement, layering and integration that we're seeing constantly.”
He adds: “Within the next coming weeks and days, there would be even a greater increase, so we’d have to heighten our diligence to ensure that we are able to stem that flow of money getting into our financial system.”
Superintendent Lucas says the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) will continue to track all transactions via reports it receives from the various financial institutions in the country. It will then identify those which are deemed very suspicious, and require further investigation by police.
Story by NEWS DESK