Over five to seven million EC dollars were lost by locals to scams in the last 10 years, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) announced in its 2013 annual report to Parliament.
In the 22-page document, the FIU said it appears that very little heed is taken by the public since they allow themselves to be lured into schemes that are just too good to be true.
It highlighted the case of a local manufacturer who was contacted via email with a lucrative business deal involving the stock market, offering returns in the millions.
According to the report, the schemers requested the local business person “to make an initial payment of US$128, 000.00 after which continuous demands were made instructing the victim to transfer funds, to which the victim complied”.
The FIU reported that the local person complied and sent additional funds to the other parties that provided an address in Hong Kong.
“He (local business person) received several documents purporting to be contracts and release notices suggesting that profit of his investments was on the way, however none materialised. To date it is estimated that the victim lost in excess of EC$1.2 million”, said the unit.
The FIU also brought to light a case involving a Grenadian who on a visit to North America met a middle aged man with the same surname as hers and who introduced himself as her cousin.
The report said: “….She returned to Grenada where she received a call on the telephone from someone acting on behalf of her cousin in Togo, Africa informing her that her cousin died leaving all his property for her including (a large quantity of cash) in Banque Atlantique, Lome, Togo.
“In the ensuing month she received numerous documents attempting to confirm the story which included a Will, Death Certificate and Certificate of statutory recognition. During telephone conversation she was instructed to send money through money remitters to cover administrative cost to complete the transaction. To date she lost in excess of EC$120, 000.00”, it added.
The FIU was created by an Act of Parliament in 2003 to handle suspicious transactions concerning money laundering and terrorist financing.
According to its 2013 report, the unit received a total of 215 Suspicious Transactions Reports of which 101 were closed with the others still under investigation.
Most of these reports came from Money Remitters and local commercial banks with a few others from Law Firms and local Credit Unions.
The FIU said that as part of its work, it made a total of 581 requests for assistance to a variety of local institutions in 2013.
“The FIU received prompt responses in most cases, said the unit that is headed by Assistant Superintendent of Police, Tafawa Pierre, the husband of Youth and Sports Minister, Emmalin Pierre.
The report seems to suggest that over 50% of the FIU requests were made to local banks where thousands of Grenadians hold their private and business bank accounts.
Fears have been expressed in the past that the FIU can be used by politicians to get after their political opponents.
A breakdown of the figures show that the FIU made the following requests: Banks (333), Credit unions (118), Money Remitters (57), Insurance companies (24), Statutory Bodies (17), and a few to others such as Telecommunication providers, Government Departments, Law Enforcement Agencies, and Accountants.
The report also gave details of the co-operation taking place between the FIU and overseas agencies under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).
“For the period under review a total of Three (3) requests were received from St. Vincent & the Grenadines, United Kingdom and Panama respectively. Each of these requests were finalised. Three (3) MLAT requests were received from the United States and one (1) from the United Kingdom. All requests were finalised.
The FIU also used the MLAT agreement to make 14 requests for assistance from “our regional counterparts, of which Eight were finalised”.
Most of the requests were made to neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago, considered as a major player in the illicit drug trade in the Caribbean.
Details were also given in the 2013 FIU report to Parliament on Money Laundering convictions and Court Orders obtained against suspects.
The report highlighted 19 convictions resulting in fines totaling EC$ 90, 000.00, as well as EC$24, 000.00 that were confiscated from persons, EC$18, 890.64 in cash forfeiture, three cash seizures
amounting to EC$51, 728.96.
In the case of Court Restraining Orders, the FIU were able to achieve the following:-
*Five vehicles with a total value of EC$119, 000.00
*One boat and engine totaling EC$35, 795.00
*Two plots of land valued at EC$61, 256.00
*Bank accounts with a sum of EC$12, 004.70