British Persistence prompts action in Guyana under New Money Laundering Act.
Tuesday April 13, 2010
It took prompting from the British and several court orders before Guyana finally moved against the assets of an overseas based Guyanese drug ring. A Guyanese woman ironically a former employee of the Guyana Revenue Authority was convicted and sentenced under the Money Laundering Act.
The woman Michelle Fraser had moved a large sum of money (some $289,000 US) on behalf of a Gang in the UK known as the Bling Bling Gang whose members moved narcotics from South America to Europe and amassed enormous wealth.
On Monday a Guyanese magistrate convicted the woman following lengthy proceedings that lasted well over five years and two different magistrates. She was sentenced to seven years in jail and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. Her attorney Nigel Hughes says he will appeal the conviction. The Director of Public Prosecution-the DPP- Shalimar Ali Hack said the prosecution’s case was that Fraser laundered the cash knowing it to be the proceedings of crime.
The conviction came after Scotland Yard rigorously pursued the case including freezing the assets of the drug dealers in the United Kingdom, then moving to apply the forfeiture orders in the Guyanese courts.
The case was filled with international movement of large sums of money and some political intrigue at stages. A prominent figure close to the ruling party attempted to intercept some of the money by a power of attorney purportedly executed in Guyana. When that attempt failed, employees of the financial institution conducting the transaction were questioned by Scotland Yard.
While the narcotics may have transited Guyana at one point, this is not a case where drugs moved from this country directly to the UK and Europe. The direct link was between Cayenne and Europe. The gang was being monitored in Britain and France after they exhibited ostentatious displays of inexplicable wealth including property purchases, luxury cars, and expensive Rolex watches. They then became known as the Bling Bling Gang. The British followed the money trail and the gang members were convicted and sentenced in the UK four years ago.