T&T money transfer outlet fingered in major gun shipment

(Trinidad Guardian) A wireless money transfer is said to be the source of funds allegedly used to finance a tranche of high profile rifles shipped to T&T. Well placed sources revealed to Sunday Guardian that the alleged shipment of rifles was being paid for via transactions at money transfer outlets. These outlets—located throughout T&T—are being watched, sources said. Sunday Guardian learnt that following reports of money laundering, one money transfer agency only recently implemented a maximum of US$1,000 daily rate transaction. The massive shipment of rifles is alleged to be the reason behind Government’s decision to implement the state of emergency (SoE). However, Minister of National Security John Sandy had earlier denied this claim when the SoE was implemented.

The transactions, Sunday Guardian learnt, were being monitored for some time and was reportedly averted by the SoE.  Responding to the allegations yesterday, the vice president of marketing at a certain money transfer agency told Sunday Guardian that while the company cannot determine what money transactions are used for, strict adherence to compliance—“both in sending and receiving government jurisdictions”—are followed.  The spokesman stated that remittance companies comply with all requirements of Central Banks and perform their duties under specifications from central authorities. Illegal transactions, the spokesman added, are difficult to transmit through remittance services due mainly in part to its sphere of reference and its close monitoring and its checks and balances procedures.

He further stated that the service is not used to facilitate illicit transactions because of the following reasons: 

• Our average size transaction is US$300

• We have strong source of fund and know your customer prescribed requirements before any send transaction is made

• The agency has strong monitoring tools to detect trends and patterns in transfers leaving and entering Trinidad and Tobago

• We work closely with our regulators and the designated authorities

• We monitors unusual transactions and complies with local authorities

However, checks at the particular money transfer outlets revealed that there is no maximum limit to the wiring of funds.

While customers are not privy to know the maximum limit of funds allowed to transfer, an official disclosed, customers making large transactions must submit the source of funds. “We do not have a maximum limit—what we have is a large principle amount. We cannot give out that information because customers would find a way to go around it.” To send over that border, documents must be sent to the international money transfer agent and an invoice explaining the reason for sending the money is requested, the spokesman said. “When a customer states what their transfer entails, we inform them of what is needed. It also depends on where the money is being sent,” the company official added.  One customer reportedly transferred up to US$7,000 in one transaction at the money transfer outlet.


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