PHILIPSBURG–Staff members of the Prosecutor’s Anti-Corruption team and the Kingdom Detective Cooperation Team RST held informative talks last week with directors of several administration and trust offices located on the island.
According to the Attorney-General’s spokesman Norman Serphos, in these talks experiences were shared that relate to criminal investigations into corruption and money-laundering, to alert the service providers to possible abuse by criminals and to enable them to better identify unusual transactions and report them to the Bureau Unusual Financial Transactions MOT.
“It is of great public interest to be vigilant and to identify possible corruption and money-laundering practices. Various international studies show that the consequences of natural disasters such as Irma and Maria provide a breeding ground for corruption and fraud.
“In addition, the important condition for obtaining aid funds is that the Government, companies and citizens of St. Maarten make maximum efforts to prevent the aid funds from flowing into corruption money.
“The anti-corruption unit TBO [Team Bestrijding Ondermijning – Ed.] fights corruption and money-laundering jointly with a chain of regulators, MOT (FIU), judicial authorities and companies that are subject to reporting.
“Administration and trust offices are obliged companies. This means that they are legally obliged to report unusual transactions to the MOT. In the informative discussions that were held, it was indicated on the basis of general typologies what forms of corruption and money-laundering TBO recognises in the criminal investigations conducted in St. Maarten.
“This includes the following characteristics: Intermediaries/consultants hired for concealing corruption funds; invoicing for work that is not or partly done (false invoices); the final destination of many corruption funds is often real estate; abuse of third-party accounts and cheques for concealing money flow; use of offshore companies to conceal the beneficial owner (the so-called UBO).
“The building sector, the telecommunications sector and the public limited companies are at high risk of being misused for corruption and money-laundering. In addition, trust offices and companies in the administrative and banking sector run a high risk of being misused to facilitate these types of crime.
“The TBO cannot only fight corruption and money-laundering. We do this with you and for you. In this, you, as a critical civil society, are indispensable. Essential here are signals from the society of corruption and money-laundering. Do you suspect that there may be money laundering or corruption? Do not hesitate to report this to TBO via
firstname.lastname@example.org ,” stated Serphos in his release.
More information about MOT and reporting duty can be found on www.fiu-sxm.net or via tel. +1-721-542-3025.