Government is moving to fix and ultimately sell about 100 boats, mostly drug-runners, which the police have seized, and hundreds of vehicles parked at police stations and the old Glendairy Prison at Station Hill.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Dale Marshall announced in Parliament today that a new pound will be built to accommodate the bounty as he moved through legislation to enable the Crown to profit from these and other proceeds of crime.
The Attorney General said: “The ministry is working on building a pound at a new location so that these vessels and vehicles that are seized by the police can be stored in conditions such that they will not be able to deteriorate and so that the Crown will have assets that are viable to take hold of to satisfy the requirements of this statue.”
As he introduced the Proceeds and Instrumentalities of Crime Bill in the House of Assembly, the MP for St Joseph said that the new bill empowers Government to repair the impounded vessels and vehicles, sell them off and put the money to be used by the Government.
“Some of them have been able to sit there for over 15 years and are now in a state of total disrepair,” Marshall said. “Others are just resting on the ground. There are no provisions for maintenance of these vehicles and they all represent 99 per cent of vessels that were carrying drugs. There is no good reason when once cases have been completed that those vehicles should not be forfeited to the Crown that they can be used in other lawful activity or be disposed of so that the money can be put into crime fighting resources.”
The Government’s chief legal advisor said he was at pains to ensure that all Barbadians understood the new law. He sought to dispel the notion that Government, the police or any other agency would be engaging in activity that runs afoul of the law courts.
He told the House: “In instances where there is no conviction the Court would be moved on a civil standard to order the seizure of assets. The word seems to have gone out that the crown will be able to take up people’s assets without regard for the rule of the law. I feel it is important to remind the chamber that there are two sets of instances for confiscation of assets.
“Where there is a prosecution in those instances upon a successful prosecution the crown is able to ask the court to make an order for forfeiture of the assets in a case where the conviction is set aside in appeal that forfeiture order is null and void. But in every case, the crown still has the opportunity to embark on what we call civil recovery of proceeds of crime so long as the proceeds themselves were either obtained through unlawful conduct or were used in connection with some kind of unlawful conduct.”