Trinidad and Tobago targets ‘unexplained wealth’

11 Apr 19

Trinidad and Tobago’s government has passed an “unexplained wealth” law that gives authorities the power to seize the profits of crime.

The Civil Asset Recovery and Management and Unexplained Wealth Bill was unanimously passed in parliament earlier this week.

At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi told legislators that in­no­cent cit­i­zens have noth­ing to fear or hide and the law will only target wrongdoers.

The new legislation is seen as a major step in the battle against corruption and aims to establish an agency responsible for recovering criminal property and curbing ill-gotten gains.

A key provision of the law is the introduction of “un­ex­plained wealth or­ders” which has been described by Al-Rawi as a “dy­na­mite pro­vi­sion”.

This draws on experience in St Vin­cent and the Grenadines requiring some people suspected of crime to explain where their apparent wealth may have come from.

“And who bet­ter to ex­plain how you bought your house, how you have a man­sion worth X or Y, how you have a car? And who bet­ter to ex­plain this than the per­son who owns it? Not every­body is brave enough to leave their name on a record for full pub­lic in­spec­tion,” Al-Rawi told parliament, according to the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.

Corruption has become an important political issue in the Caribbean country which was listed at 78th place in the world by Transparency International's 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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