By Lesroy W. Williams

Observer Reporter

(Basseterre, St. Kitts) – As part of their crime-fighting initiatives, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis approved bills to help in making St. Kitts and Nevis a place where drug barons, traffickers and other criminals involved in money laundering and terrorist acts may not find a safe haven.

Parliament on July 31 approved an amendment to the Proceeds of Crime Act making money laundering an offence where one can be extradited.

The amendment to the Proceeds of Crime Act No.3 Bill, 2008 was one of two bills that was debated and approved by Parliament.

The other bill debated and approved was the Money Services Business, 2008. This bill had its first reading in the house on June 18. Both bills were presented by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Federation, the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas.

The Money Services Bill has as its objective to make provisions for the licensing and regulation of businesses in their transmission of money or monetary value in any form. This includes cheque cashing, currency exchange and the issuing, sale or redemption of money orders or traveler’s cheques as well as the business of operating as an agent or franchise holder of any of these businesses.

The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill and the Immigration (Amendment) Bill were two other significant bills that were deliberated and sanctioned by Parliament in the sitting of the National Assembly on July 31. Both Bills were presented by the Acting Minister of National Security, Immigration and Labour, the Hon. Earl Assim Martin.

The Amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act defines the term “forfeited property”. The term according to the Act refers to tangible and intangible assets, movable or immovable, however acquired and legal documents or instruments in any form including electronic, or digital evidencing title to or interest in such assets including but not limited to bank credits, travelers cheques, bank cheques, money orders, shares, securities, bonds, drafts and letters of credit.

Any person convicted of knowingly committing, conspiring or attempting, incites another, aids, abets, facilitates, counsels or procures the commission of the offences under the Act is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or a fine or a fine of one hundred thousand dollars or both.

The other Bill passed was the Amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002 which waives the visa requirement for member countries of the European Union other than the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

The Hon. Sam Condor, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, Social and Community Development and Gender Affairs presented to Parliament for the first reading, the Non-Governmental Organization Bill 2008, which, will regulate the operation of non-governmental organizations in St. Kitts and Nevis.

The 2008 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report said that “St. Kitts and Nevis should devote sufficient resources to effectively implement its ant-money laundering regime, giving particular attention to its offshore financial sector. St. Kitts and Nevis should determine the exact number of Internet gaming companies present on the islands and provide the necessary oversight to these entities. St. Kitts and Nevis should provide adequate resources and training to law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate money laundering cases. The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis should also become a party to the UN Convention again.”