Criminals rush to clean dirty money

Mon­ey laun­der­ers, drug traf­fick­ers, gang­sters and oth­er un­der­world fig­ures are at­tempt­ing to ex­change their “dirty mon­ey” with the as­sis­tance of le­git­i­mate busi­ness­men by of­fer­ing them a fee to do the trans­ac­tion. This il­lic­it ac­tiv­i­ty is be­ing con­firmed by high rank­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and se­nior fi­nan­cial sources as the coun­try phas­es out the old $100 note to the new poly­mer note that will be­come le­gal ten­der on Jan­u­ary 1.

“There is a re­al con­cern that busi­ness­men are ob­tain­ing il­lic­it funds and un­der­world fig­ures are will­ing to take a hit and are of­fer­ing these busi­ness­men $20 on every $100 to get the mon­ey in­to the sys­tem. This is some­thing we are ac­tive­ly mon­i­tor­ing,” said a high rank­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cial in­volved in in­ves­ti­gat­ing white-col­lar crime and track­ing the move­ment of dirty mon­ey.

“With the De­cem­ber 31 dead­line ap­proach­ing we are see­ing cer­tain pat­terns to sug­gest this,” a se­nior fi­nan­cial source added.

They warned that any­one caught in this il­lic­it prac­tice is li­able un­der the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act.

Well placed in­tel­li­gence sources told Guardian Me­dia that in re­cent months po­lice had de­tained sev­er­al per­sons with large sums of TT and US coun­ter­feit cur­ren­cy. For­eign na­tion­als were al­so held and ap­pa­ra­tus that ap­peared to be for print­ing mon­ey had been re­cov­ered.

“We were told that the ma­chine seems to be able to print al­most flaw­less bills,” the source said.

Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith, con­tact­ed for com­ment, said he had “no knowl­edge about this.” But a high rank­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cial who is fa­mil­iar with white-col­lar crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions said: “to change the notes so quick­ly there must have been some­thing to have trig­gered this.”

“The in­for­ma­tion seems to be top-se­cret,” an­oth­er se­nior law en­force­ment source said.

A se­nior source in the fi­nan­cial sec­tor won­dered why the gov­ern­ment was quick to make the changes with­in three weeks when the poly­mer $50 note was in­tro­duced over six months.

Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young, who last week an­nounced the change in the $100 bills, would on­ly say it was a way to curb mon­ey laun­der­ing and stamp out or­gan­ised crime.

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