Jamaican officials are pursuing at least “20 significant cases” of alleged money laundering by public officials, according to Justin Felice, the head of the nation’s Financial Investigations Division (FID).
The Jamaica Gleaner reported last week that according to Felice, billions in government contracts have been expended, but there are gaps in what has been accomplished with the public funding. Targets of the investigations include lawyers, known criminals, and others suspected of public corruption.
The Gleaner reports that Felice identifies cases as “’significant’ when they involve matters of high public interest or include ‘politically exposed’ persons, issues of national security, serious organized crime, and corruption.”
In addition to the persons or groups at the front of the criminal activity, Felice said the FID is focusing on the lawyers and real-estate agents who are facilitating the transfer of illicit gains into real estate and other valuable acquisitions.
The FID has seized nearly $2 billion in assets believed to be the product of criminal activities, and it has asserted its intentions to pursue closely “the higher end of money laundering and public corruption.”
Felice said that his office is focusing on following the money trails associated with lucrative public contracts, and he said his team is particularly interested in related individuals who have acquired significant wealth beyond what could be predicted for their work. He also acknowledged that elements of corruption within Jamaican authorities like law-enforcement is likely aiding these criminal enterprises and needs to be curtailed as well.