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Oct 17, 2022

Court Battle Continues Over Seized CIBL $3.1 Million

The Orange Walk Magistrate Court is hearing an application for further retention of funds by the Financial Intelligence Unit. The F.I.U. has applied to have the court grant permission for them to keep in their possession, for an additional three months, over three million dollars seized from the Caribbean International Brewery Company Limited’s compound on October sixth. C.I.B.L. is the parent company for Mine Beer. The multi-agency raid was carried out on suspicion of human trafficking.  Fourteen Chinese nationals were detained on immigration offenses. The F.I.U. claims that it has reasonable grounds to suspect that the funds, which were found inside a safe along with a number of identification documents, are connected to human trafficking, money laundering, and tax evasion. The hearing continued today before Magistrate Deborah Rogers who is expecting to hear the testimonies of three witnesses before coming to a verdict. Today’s hearing saw the conclusion of the first witness’ testimony, Inspector Gian Young. He led the search team into C.I.B.L.’s compound on October sixth, under the power of a search warrant. Inspector Young was also responsible for seizing over three million dollars from the compound, before turning the funds over to the F.I.U.  The F.I.U. has added Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith to its team of lawyers, while former Prime Minister Dean Barrow continues to represent C.I.B.L.  A sticking point for Senior Counsel Barrow arose as a preliminary objection. His protest is that the F.I.U. is without merit to bring such an application under the Money Laundering and Terrorism Protection Act, because the F.I.U. did not make the original seizure. Here is what Barrow told reporters today.


Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow, Attorney for C.I.B.L.

“Looking at the merit, there is no causal connection. The Inspector amidst him did not have any suspicions of money laundering. He thought the proceeds were derived from fourteen Chinese being trafficked. There is nothing to show these people were being trafficked in any event. But, that a part, what the application said was that this was money seized by the police and then re seized by the F.I.U. What re-seizure? It was always the one seizure by the inspector who sent for the money and then afterwards gave them custody of the money. But, it is his seizure, no re-seizure. So, F.I.U. is completely without any remit to bring this application. And even if that is not so, you can’t bring it more than seventy two hours after. They tried to get around by suggesting, well the F.I.U. re-seized when it was handed custody at nine the night, which would perhaps bring. Well you heard the Inspector, I was the one who seized and I seized at eight and nine a.m.   They got a report from the tax people dated, today is what the seventeenth, maybe midweek last week, remember their application is only within time, and if the original seizure was lawful. It could only be lawful if the inspector reasonable suspected that the money was the proceeds of tax evasion, or was accumulated because they were hiding taxes, was in some other form, money laundering. You’ve heard him say he had no suspicion of that sort. So, how will you bring that in now? You develop a suspicion after the fact, based on what some report you get from the tax services. No, that cannot be contained within the four corners of this application, premise on what the position was at the time the inspector seized in order to show that it was a lawful seizure.”

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