Categorized | Business

Former Top Cop: Stop Cash-For-Gold- Gov’t Must Seize Assets Of Criminals


By: K Quincy Parker

Former Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Thompson says the government must begin confiscating the proceeds of crime so the assets of criminals do not remain secure in this jurisdiction, and that the government must revoke licenses for “cash-for-gold” businesses, which he said encourages criminal activity.

Mr. Thompson spoke with Journal Business about how these two acts would make The Bahamas more secure. In a recent letter to the editor of a local daily, Mr. Thompson waded into the debate about the efficacy of the government’s Urban Renewal Programme, suggesting that while it is “certainly helpful,” other areas of law enforcement are being overlooked, including immigration and seizure and forfeiture laws.

He said the authorities do not appear to be making sufficient use of the Proceeds of Crime Act and other laws that permit the seizure and forfeiture of assets of criminals.

“All these people I see being arrested for drugs – big time amounts of drugs – I haven’t seen anything being done through the courts as far as seizure and forfeiture of property is concerned. It’s not happening,” he said.

“I feel that with seizure and forfeiture, every single big drug dealer – I’m not talking about the fellow with the little cigarette, I’m talking about the fellow with the tons of marijuana or the pounds of cocaine – that’s picked up, that we should go after property belonging to him. The law says so, and we should do it.”

Mr. Thompson said the police must impose charges on every single breach of the law. Charges like unlawful possession, vagrancy and loitering with intent to commit a crime are among the tools the police could use more effectively.

Section 9(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act allows authorities to confiscate “the proceeds of drug trafficking, including any property representing such proceeds, and all gifts made under section 6(1).”

Section 6(1) lays out the circumstances in which such gifts are liable to confiscation, including the time frame within which such gifts are liable to confiscation and the provision that a gift was made by the defendant at any time and was a gift of property either received by the defendant in connection with drug trafficking carried on by him or another person; or, which in whole or in part directly or indirectly represented in the defendant’s hands property received by him in that connection.

Mr. Thompson also insisted that the cash-for-gold business should be stopped.

“Cash for gold should close down,” he said.

“The government should see fit to close them down. All they are doing is causing these youngsters on the street…they have an avenue to dispose of the gold that they steal. For example, a woman stops her car at the stoplight. Her car window is down. [If a] youngster sees a big chain around her neck, he is going to grab it.”

“They knock down [an elderly woman] recently just to steal gold. And before cash-for-gold, we didn’t have that.”

Mr. Thompson cited recent news reports of raids on cash-for-gold establishments, and noted that in one instance a police officer discussing the findings pointed out chains with broken links. The officer voiced a suspicion that this meant the chains were snatched from someone’s neck.

The former assistant commissioner noted that the people who owned the shops and were in possession of the items were released pending the efforts to get the owners to identify the chains.

“I don’t think those persons should have been released,” he said.

“There is a charge – unlawful possession – where they would have had to account to a magistrate as to how they came by those items.”

“The same thing applies to copper. You find people with copper and you don’t know where it came from, because you maybe cannot identify the place where it was stolen. But at least there is the unlawful possession charge, and that is one of those offenses in law where the person has to account! You can’t just stand in court and say nothing. You have to tell the magistrate where you got this copper, where you got these chains. Can you account for them?”

“And it’s an offense that carries a prison term,” he added.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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