Freundel Stuart Regime Dragging Feet on Civil Forfeiture in Barbados

Baobab Tower

FIVE experts from the United States are currently conducting a two-day training programme for local prosecutors to enhance their knowledge of investigating and prosecuting various fraud offences and related asset forfeiture on the island.

The workshop concluded Friday with a series of recommendations to improve investigative and prosecutorial practice and possible amendment to the existing legal framework of Barbados.

The team, which was put together by the National Centre for State Courts (NCSC), includes two current and one former federal prosecutor, a senior special agent within the US Secret Service and NCSC Senior Programme Manager.

Charles Leacock - DPP

On Thursday, during a brief opening ceremony held in the Baobab Tower in Warrens, Director of Public Prosecutions, Charles Leacock, explained that this workshop comes as result of a number of enhanced criminalities both in the area of corporate and individual fraud in Barbados.

It is against this backdrop that he alluded to some of the fraud schemes that are trending including the schemes from West Africa, requesting advanced sums after the unsuspecting person receives a letter or the most recent fraudulent acts from Eastern European frauds, through the “skimming” of ATM machines.

Sir Marston Gibson

According to Sir Marston, “One of the difficulties that we have faced in Barbados is the pace at which the legislative process moves. We have been promised that we would have new Asset Forfeiture legislation. With regard to abolishing preliminary Inquires, unfortunately the legislation has not kept pace with our desires. We cannot sit and wait on the legislation, we have to train our personnel and that includes judges, so that we understand the complexities but particularly the innovative processes that criminals use.”

Sir Marston further explained that a number of fraud offences fall under the Theft Act, which needs to be amended and “beefed up“.

“But there is still room for you to be innovative and to look a lot more closely at the sections of the Theft Act. A lot of the offences will be covered. What won’t be covered is Civil Forfeiture. We need Civil Forfeiture legislation badly,” he said.

The visiting team will assist in identifying best practices and challenges that will inform institutional policies, promote change where necessary, and broaden approaches to the administration of justice.

The visiting team will assist in identifying best practices and challenges that will inform institutional policies, promote change where necessary, and broaden approaches to the administration of justice.

He told the participants that they must be extremely careful about the way in which their evidence is presented. “Your objective is not only to investigate the frauds and the offences, but to ensure that the evidence which you obtain in that process will withstand scrutiny in the court as well.” (DATA COURTESY: Janelle Husbands, Barbados Advocate)

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