Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Call for greater public-private sector partnership with law enforcement in crime fight

Published:Monday | November 20, 2023 | 12:07 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Jervis Moore, director of investigation in the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency.
Jervis Moore, director of investigation in the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency.

Jervis Moore, director of investigations at the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), has called for greater partnership and cooperation between the public and private sectors and law enforcement in order to step up the fight against corruption and fraud.

Signalling that fraud perpetrated against financial institutions and through lotto scamming helped to fund and arm gangs in the country, Moore also warned that corruption was a threat to democracy.

“If corruption continues to prevail in our society, our democracy will be impacted. We don’t have to look far. Haiti is just a few miles away from us,” the senior law- enforcement official said.

With the crisis in Haiti escalating, Moore referenced a recent incident in which a hospital in the war-torn country was placed under siege by gangsters.

Moore, who was participating in a panel discussion during an anti-fraud conference organised by the Jamaica Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston late last week, pointed out that Jamaica ranked 59 out of 193 countries on the global organised crime index.

He said money laundering was a big issue in Jamaica, noting that criminals were using sophisticated means to hide their ill-gotten gains.

Citing new methods being used by drug traffickers to escape scrutiny, Moore said that when illegal drugs are shipped to certain jurisdictions, payments are being made through digital wallets, which seek to circumvent the local financial system.

Moore reasoned that the reluctance of banks and other financial institutions to report fraud as they guard against reputational damage is not helpful to MOCA and other investigative bodies who are pushing for a collaborative approach to cramp the illegal schemes.

He said MOCA has to get a court order to obtain certain information from some financial institutions that will allow it to unearth and successfully probe fraud cases.

Moore acknowledged that MOCA had to justify why it should be granted court orders as there was legislation governing data privacy.

Dismissed employees

Dane Nicholson, chairman of the Jamaica Bankers Association’s anti-fraud committee, said some financial institutions dismissed workers who were involved in fraudulent activities but did not report the crime to law enforcement.

The fraud-prevention expert, who was also a panellist at the anti-fraud conference, said these dismissed employees often show up at another financial institution that was not aware of their previous wrongdoing.

Arguing that “leopards don’t change their spots”, Nicholson indicated that a database should be established for fraudsters who plague financial institutions.

“We are now trying to explore the (possibility) of creating a database to find a way to share the information to prevent these individuals from obtaining employment back in a financial institution,” he said.

At the same time, Moore is insisting that MOCA and players in the financial sector need to sit down and come up with ways of fixing this problem.

“Let’s put Jamaica first as it relates to combatting fraud and financial crimes,” he added.

He said a collaborative approach was needed to make inroads into the activities of financial fraudsters.

Another panellist, Sandra McLeish, who is a director of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told participants at the anti-fraud conference that businesses were faced with the challenge of finding workers who, apparently, were lured by the money they can earn from illicit activities.

“We cannot pay persons to compete with some of the other attractions out there,” McLeish insisted, adding that a strong partnership across various sectors was needed to address the problem.