BVI News

No thresholds required to seize drug $$ under new Trafficking Act

Attorney General Dawn Smith

Local law enforcement authorities now have the power to seize any amount of money, once they suspect it to be the proceeds of drug trafficking or drug money laundering.

This is possible with new amendments to the territory’s Drug Trafficking Offences Act. These changes passed in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, May 11.

Attorney General (AG) Dawn Smith said the 2021 amendments to this law widens the circumstances under which a police officer or Customs officer may seize cash. Those circumstances now include having reasonable grounds to suspect that money found in the territory is intended to be used for criminal conduct or that it represents the proceeds of crime.

“These enforcement powers will ensure greater certainty with regard to the ability of law enforcement to appropriately deal with cash found in the Virgin Islands without attaching any specific threshold,” the AG stated.

“The governing rule will be the suspicion attached to it in relation to drug trafficking or drug money laundering,” she added. “The Bill makes it a requirement — in respect of every drug trafficking offence where it is considered reasonable to do so — for an investigating officer or the Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) to expand the investigation to establish whether or not a drug money laundering offence may also have been committed.”

Smith said this will ensure that investigating officers are not confined to investigating only the normal established drug trafficking offences under the law, but also widen the net to better protect the BVI against activities relative to drug money laundering.

Suspicious financial reports now filed with FIA, not police

In addition to this, the legislative amendment formally establishes the FIA as the central institution in the BVI with the responsibility for receiving suspicious activity reports (SARs).

Smith said, this removes the ability for SARs to be filed with a police officer, and requires them to be filed solely with the FIA.

This measure, she explained, removes any doubt created as to which institution has the primary duty of collecting and analysing SARs.

The FIA typically has a ‘Steering Committee’ responsible for leading the conduct of investigations of the Agency. However, a proposal has been made to reform the laws governing the FIA; allowing for the work assigned to the Steering Committee to now be performed “exclusively by the FIA”.

With this proposed reform, the Drug Trafficking Offences Act has also been amended by “removing the [all] references to the ‘Steering Committee’ and substituting or retaining references to the FIA”, Smith explained.

The said Bill also seeks to effect amendments made in the Drug Trafficking Offences (Amendment) Act, 2017, which did not take into account the changes made in the 2013 revision of the Drug Trafficking Offences Act.

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  1. Wow says:

    Hm look trouble

  2. Hmmmm says:

    This is NONSENSE!!!!! So you are telling me you can take my money and I have to prove it’s NOT drug money? There are people that may fit the drug runner stereotype and have a cash business. This is a slippery slope and Government better becareful they don’t end up with a lot more lawsuits.

    Like 21
    Dislike 11
  3. True Reality says:

    The factual reality is, this law is aimed at the local Black man.

    The real money men who are heavily invested in the drug and firearms trade, and who launder their monies daily through the system, are not Black men or locals, and are the most respectd individuals and businesses in the country.

    Nedless to say, money buys power and speaks to power.

    The only individuals that will succumb to such laws are the small fry, (local), on the money pyramid. For the big boys, it will be business as usual, as laws and legislative enforcement are not yet on that level and those that are are bought, sealed and delivered already.

    Like 14
    Dislike 11
  4. well says:

    Don’t act like something your not.Example wearing certain colours head too toe..flags and all and your not a banger..same as signing,. its all lame and attracts attention…Stop bath in honey if you don’t like bees.Bzzzzzzz.

    • Idiot says:

      Shut yuh mouth ! Ppl work hard for their money and they are entitled to buy what name brand and shxt they want

  5. hmm says:

    Is it up to the officer to decide on the spot weather or not grounds are reasonable enough to determine that any quantity of money found is the proceeds of criminal activity or for use in criminal activity?

    • Fatman says:

      Yes so when they see you with your pockets unusually fat… they holding you… oh what a sad day… Yes we need to legislate.. but please take time and write proper legislation and stop just copying from other jurisdictions

      Like 5
      Dislike 2
  6. Seriously. says:

    They not talking a few thousand they talking 100s of thousand. No business have that kinda cash to spare accept drug money hopefully custom
    Will seize sum of custom bosses money

  7. @ idiot says:

    You could not have choose a better name / HOPEFULL you don’t have any kids dummy

  8. @ true reality says:

    Now unless you are working in space , you will have proof of where you worked for that treasure and we all know it didn’t fall from the sky and that poor / little black man fairy
    tale ain’t going to work / those with clean hands or foot should be proud of the fruit of their labour 👍

  9. @ mr fat boy says:

    Let me break it to gently / if your pockets is full of $$$ that you earned honestly – what is the problem / people are being robbed and stilled brutally killed ( are you aware or are a perpetrator?

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