Local Retailer Found Guilty Of Failing To Conduct Due Diligence

During a 2019 RGP investigation by the Money Laundering Investigation Unit  (MLIU), various high valued Rolex watches were seized during the search of several properties.  

A statement from the RGP follows below:

Further enquires conducted by the MLIU revealed that some of these watches had  been purchased from a local retailer in Main Street. Subsequent investigations  revealed that just one of these watches had been bought for €29,000 in cash.  

Yesterday, (Thursday), Albert Desoisa (54) the retailer’s Money Laundering  Reporting Officer was convicted by the Magistrates’ Court of failing to conduct proper  due diligence in relation to this purchase and was fined £8,000.  

The offence relates to requirements set out in the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to  prevent money laundering. Mr. Desoisa was found not to have conducted sufficient  due diligence to confirm the identity of the person handing over the cash or the  source of those funds.  

Detective Chief Inspector Tunbridge of the RGP’s Economic Crime Unit said, ‘The  Proceeds of Crime Act not only makes money laundering an offence but it also puts  legal obligations on people selling high value goods and accepting cash for those  purchases. POCA also places obligations on companies to train their staff to  understand what money laundering is, in what circumstances their suspicions of  money laundering could be raised and what they must do in these situations. In  addition, they are required to appoint someone to be their Money Laundering Reporting Officer. 

‘Businesses cannot just accept cash in the belief that it is not their problem where  the money comes from. It is their problem in law to carry out enough due diligence to  satisfy themselves that the funds are not derived from criminal activity. Prosecutions  will be brought against those that do not fulfil their obligations.’

Mr Desoisa was acquitted of the more serious offence contrary to Section 6B of the Proceeds of Crime Act. In respect of this offence, the Court found that it was not satisfied that Mr Desoisa "knew or suspected or had reasonable grounds to suspect" that the person tendering €29,000 in cash was engaged in money laundering. The Court accepted the defendant's explanation.

The decision in respect of the offence of Failing to Apply Due Diligence is subject to appeal.