The St. George’s No.1 Magistrate’s Court has confiscated a sum of $57, 450 from two Vincentian nationals, who were each fined $10, 000, to be paid forthwith for the offence of Money Laundering.
Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill handed down the sentence on Tuesday to Wilbert Small, 35 and Ryan Baptiste, 23 after they pleaded guilty to the offence following their second court appearance on the charge.
The suspects were both represented by Attorney-at-law, Francis Paul, who urged the court to impose a non-custodial sentence and a lenient fine on the men as a discount for their full cooperation with police investigators following their apprehension on May 3.
The Vincentians who were attempting to leave the island via the Osprey ferry with the monies in their backpacks were picked up by lawmen.
The court was told that $29, 950 was recovered from Small and $27, 500 in the possession of Baptiste.
The evidence provided in the case is that the two non-nationals initially told police investigators that they travelled from Union Island to Carriacou and then took the Osprey to the mainland in search of a boat engine.
However, they eventually admitted under interrogation that they were sent to Grenada by another Vincentian national to collect the money in exchange for a monetary reward.
The two confessed to going up to Grenville in St. Andrew, where they met with two individuals to collect the money which the lawmen believe represents the proceeds from criminal conduct.
It is believed that the transaction took place somewhere in the vicinity of the Grenville Bus Terminus.
In asking for leniency for his clients, Attorney Paul told the Chief Magistrate that the men agreed to do the job because they found themselves in desperate financial predicaments and were looking to make “a fast dollar”.
He said that Small, who operates a small catering business in St. Vincent, is married with 3 children with 2 being sickly and he needed some extra cash to take care of their medical expenses.
Baptiste, who is a Fisherman by profession was also said to be in a similar vulnerable situation but the lawyer did not elaborate to the court.
The two Vincentians were accompanied in court by members of their family who had travelled to Grenada to support them.
Baptiste and Small both apologised to the court and their families for their actions in getting involved in the illegal drug business.
The Vincentian nationals were ordered by the Chief Magistrate to pay the fines forthwith or face a 2-year prison term in default.
THE NEW TODAY understands that police are continuing their investigations with the intention of apprehending the local men who were involved in the transaction.