Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill, 2023 Passed
by Merv-Ann Thompson
The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill passed into law uncontested on Monday (October 30th) when the National Assembly convened.
Moved by Attorney General Hon. Garth Wilkin, the 23-year-old act was amended for a 13th time to broaden the act’s definition as it relates to illicit gains.
Hon. Wilkin explained the amendment.
“The proposed amendment to the Proceeds of Crime Act expands the definition of tainted property within the existing legislation. The March 2021 amendment narrowed the interpretation of tainted property, which then significantly restricted the investigative powers of the police and their ability to apply the widest range of forfeiture and asset recovery.
“The proposed amendment, the definition is sufficiently clear and comprehensive. It says, and I quote, Madam Speaker, Tainted property in relation to the commission of an offense includes property used in or in connection with the commission of an offense, that is a crime, derived, obtained, or realized directly or indirectly from the commission of a crime.
“Has been used in or in connection with unlawful conduct. Or is intended to be used in or in connection with unlawful conduct.”
As criminals improve their modes of operation to evade law enforcement, it is important for laws to keep pace. AG Wilkin shared possible consequences.
“The changing nature of criminal activities necessitates adjustments. Criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, utilizing a wide range of assets to facilitate their legal activities. The existing definition, however, is not sufficiently broad to encompass the full spectrum of proceeds of crime.
“Without this amendment, there’s a genuine risk that law enforcement agencies, and in particular, the White-Collar Crime Unit, may face significant obstacles in their endeavours to recover the proceeds of crime. The nature of white-collar crime often involves the use of property or assets that are not directly linked to the offense, but play a crucial role in facilitating it.
“This amendment is critical to the work of investigators and prosecutors who thrive, who strive to hold perpetrators of white-collar crime accountable.”
As consultations were had with the White-Collar Crime Unit, the Anti-Money Laundering National Committee, and the Asset Recovery Unit of the Regional Security System, the change in the bill would strengthen the country’s ability to combat crime and ensure the recovery of gains from criminal acts.
This act should work in tandem with the Proceeds of Crime Asset Recovery Act 2020, but this act the AG said was not enforced due to administrative issues that need to be rectified.
He said a review is being done and the act will be brought when it can be implemented.