A regional advisor today issued a sound warning to Barbados and other Caribbean countries that their financial investigation units (FIU) are playing catch up, amid a rapidly evolving financial crime environment.
Addressing participants at the closing ceremony of a two-week Financial Investigations Training workshop at the Pommarine Hotel today, Jefferson Clarke, the Law Enforcement Advisor at the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), explained that in their initial stages, regional FIUs were keeping pace with rest of the world.
However, he expressed concern that this was no longer the case.
“Our FIUs all started in the same place, but over period of time, as the recommendations addressing financial investigations evolve, we are seeing that our financial investigation units are being left behind.
“This is to the extent that currently in the region only three financial investigation units attend the CFATF meetings. They are Montserrat, Grenada and St Lucia,” said Clarke, while noting that there were 26 countries in the region with operational FIUs.
Clarke also pointed out that based on recent evaluations conducted on these anti money laundering defence systems, a high rate of attrition abounds. He also said the effectiveness of these units had been further retarded by the by poor utilization of human resources.
“In addition we are seeing skills not being utilized. We could have this type of training now but when you go back to your respective countries, find yourself transferred to traffic,” Clarke told the participants, comprising mainly of law enforcement officials from across the region.
He also highlighted a recurrent challenge with funding in the region, which he said has had to turn to the European Union (EU) only to discover that “the EU processes are less facilitative for quick implementation of these kinds of activities”.
In this regard, Clarke made reference to the fact that they only received funding for the recently concluded training programme five weeks ago.