Nation e-Edition

AG sees new way to tackle drug lords

United States Ambassador Larry Palmer (left) and Barbados’ Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite signing a funding agreement between the two countries at the AG’s Wildey offices yesterday. (Picture by Gercine Carter.)

By Gercine Carter | Wed, October 24, 2012 - 12:09 AM

Barbados may go after the ill-gotten property of drug kingpins by civil rather than criminal means.

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said yesterday he favoured this method of civil forfeiture of illegally acquired property over the criminal route, “but we need to ensure as a jurisdiction that it is indeed constitutional and we are not in breach of any of our laws”.

As he signed an agreement at his office with United States Ambassador Larry Palmer for US$458 000, part of which will go towards strengthening Barbados’ counternarcotics control capabilities, Brathwaite said: “I do not believe that anyone should be allowed to live in this country and display their ill-gotten gains without us using whatever apparatus we have at our disposal, within our laws, to ensure that it does not happen, because it does send the wrong signal to the rest of the community.”

He said though there were existing procedures in place for criminal forfeiture of assets, “the whole area of civil forfeiture is one area that I would like to see us as a country move towards because I am slightly upset that you can be driving along and you can hear that that vehicle belongs to so and so and it may be proceeds of crime and because there is no criminal conviction, he and she may be able to drive along nicely in his or her community”.

The Attorney General joined Palmer in the signing of an amended letter of agreement between the two countries for new funding to combat transnational crime and increase public safety under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).

Please read the full story in today’s MIDWEEK NATION, or in the eNATION edition.

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Posted by yogi Ni 1 year, 10 months ago
Mr.Attorney General we as Barbadians are tired of all the long talk. If there are existing avenues under the criminal law for the forfeiture of assets accumulated from crime, why none of the assets of the drugs lords have been seized? I am sure under the money laundry Act and the Income Tax Act I am sure the State can go after those people.

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Posted by nesta marley 1 year, 10 months ago
us$458.000.... this hand out/investment by the us government would be repayed in one transaction... why do we need a handout to substitute/constitute to a process thats already in place, but not being instituted. i have observed in my local paper.with reference to the mentioned act,full pages of sale of forfeited properties in our nieghbouring countries,who are part of this agreement.. do the math... a us$ 5.million home in barbados is forfeited and sold in the united states. what is their take.as compared to their investment. that is only one deal... as yogi said ,why cant we use the system we already have in place. and did we have the right to observe and or reject this agreement in a public forum. in a related topic, why is it ok to accept this scratch grain,when we know that we will be giving away growena? why couldn't we just give garcia and his drugs to the united states? somethig smells like sardines...... we need to hold these public officials accountable and demand transperency in their actions. we need to know where and how this money is being spent. by the way. a regular house in a regular nieghbourhood in brooklyn goes for US$400.000.. THIS IS NO BARGAIN... and the AG knows this.

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Posted by J. Payne 1 year, 10 months ago
Do these ministers know what they're doing at the helm? (quote)“but we need to ensure as a jurisdiction that it is indeed constitutional and we are not in breach of any of our laws”.(end quote) What foolishness? Seriously? The Constitution is the highest law of the land according to Chapter 1, Section 1 which reads: "This Constitution is the supreme law of Barbados and, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitutions, this Constitution shall prevail and the other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void." If you also intrench the provisions (subsections) under-which private property can be confiscated in Barbados (in contravention of Chapter III) how can that be overturned? Parliament is the highest law making body in the land, now act like it! This is all basic stuff in terms of governance, we should know how to do after 40 something years of independence.

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Posted by CARL HUSBANDS 1 year, 10 months ago
@J.Payne: Who exactly is subject to the Constitution of Barbados? Can a Trinidadian citizen who resides in Barbados, for example, be protected by the Constitution of Barbados? What due process protections does a non-Barbadian residing in Barbados have under the Barbados Constitution?

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Posted by J. Payne 1 year, 10 months ago
@CARL HUSBANDS. I'm not 100 percent certain, but I believe in a global context it has been tested whether ones' own migrant status, or lack-thereof includes (or precludes) an individual to the benefits / protections, or even punishments / remedies of a Constitution, and it has been shown that when one is within the territorial jurisdiction of another country that Constitution is in-deed still valid. Unless certain written laws, or regulations expressly preclude them from those conditions of the host country's jurisdiction. Moreover, and more importantly, also in a global context, I believe it has also been shown that one does not need to have necessarily gone to the extent of taking an oath of allegiance to a country in order to be bound by another country's laws or to be granted protections under that host country's Constitution. For example, if a person such as Mr. Garcia never took an oath of allegiance to Barbados (or The Crown), or it's laws, and (as a hypothetical) boards a plane which lands in Barbados, and (per criminal conviction) is found to have broken one or more laws of this jurisdiction, the court can be shown to have maintained the right to sentence him under the authority of the written Constitution, and other laws enacted / in-force. If an individual comes to Barbados, and is involved in human trafficking, they too would be subject to legal conditions of the Barbados Constitution and other legislation unless other law expressly forbid that. Same if a person is at a foreign diplomatic mission of Barbados or in the maritime waters, or an area under military occupation by Barbadian authorities. (The last part not tested within the last ~200 years ofcourse.) So to answer your question, I don't see why a resident Trinidadian shouldn't be under the same treatment (save if the Parliament of Barbados signed a treaty giving preference to one country's legal framework or another.)

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Posted by CARL HUSBANDS 1 year, 10 months ago
@J.Payne: You are making the Attorney General's point. There are CRIMINAL forfeiture laws applicable to the examples you cited which are predicated upon a CRIMINAL conviction of the person. The issue here is what happens when the person has not been CRIMINALLY convicted of anything but the State attempts to seize the private property of an individual in a CIVIL action of someone who may happen to be a non-Barbadian. If a Barbadian born naturalized American citizen comes to Barbados and "resides" in Barbados for a year and a half, can Barbados force him to file an income tax return in Barbados? If a Barbadian born naturalized American citizen sells drugs in the US but is never convicted in Barbados of any crime but he or she has used the proceeds from the drug activity in the US to buy a "big house and big car" in Barbados can Barbados with the cooperation of the US authorities legally seize "dah big house and big car" in a civil action?

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Posted by nesta marley 1 year, 10 months ago
@carl husbands. What I get from your last comment ,is lots of questions, well here is another question, what are the guidelines and ground rules regarding the distribution of the confisicated properties.....I am sure that a nice home in long island surpasses the handout that the united states offers,the other side to this... the immunity that is offered to defence attorney, who gain a fortune of that drug monies. here the greed can and will encourage corruption.... just like wall street, i can forsee a rise in attorney based real estate in barbados.

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Posted by CARL HUSBANDS 1 year, 9 months ago
@ Nesta Marley: Lets say for instance I went into your purse and stole $5 which I then used to purchase lottery tickets. Lets say that one of those lottery tickets won the 10 million dollar jackpot, is the money mine or yours? What if a man robs a bank in Barbados and takes the money of Barbadian depositors and then uses that money to purchase a property in the US which is confiscated by the US authorities. Who should get the proceeds from the sale of that property? Generally, there are money laundering laws which prohibit a person from illegally transferring large sums of money from one jurisdiction into another. I would think that banking authorities, real estate brokers, the appropriate Government authorities responsible for overseeing real estate conveyances in Barbados and not just attorneys would be exposed to these real estate transactions. I am not quite sure why you have singled out attorneys and have made certain assumptions concerning same. Finally, the main reason for the questions is to illustrate exactly why the Attorney General said we needed to make sure we were not in violation of any laws as we pursue the civil forfeiture path.

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Posted by nesta marley 1 year, 9 months ago
My reference to attorneys was compared to the bankers on wall street.and how they subsequently benefitted from the crisis. As we tout the measly 450,000 dollars,I mentioned the vast amount of cash and property here. the relationship between attorney and client, purchase properties in relatives names or under corporations,llc, etc.the same way money is hidden in off shore accounts. the attorney can be retained by the dealer to represent his assets ,and utilise his expertise to ensure that the is not subjected to consification.Can you REASONABLY SAY ,THAT THIS IS A GOOD DEAL?

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Posted by wayne husbands 1 year, 9 months ago
@nesta marley... I can see your point, if i was a target of this law and faced the possibility of consification,it would be in my interest to divert those efforts to areas where there may be less threatened. personally i have tried to open/reopen a bank account in barbados,and it has been so difficult. I have considered putting my money in a mattress, yet if an establshed attorney decided to buy two units at st.peters bay. all he would need is finance or financing. whats to stop a dealer from providing funds and fees to purchase these investment opportunities as we do in the legal way,and transfer or sell the title/deed when they are not under the microscope..what i notice here is a mindset ,that dealers will think of flashy living, but there are many who may be thinking or being advised to think like their attorneys.

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