International anti-money laundering trainer Susan Berger is guest facilitator at a five-day training session for practitioners in the real estate industry, put on by the Real Estate Board (REB) with assistance from the Department of Treasury/US Embassy, Kingston.
The session ends today at the board's Real Estate Training Institute. It is open to dealers, salesmen and all employees or contracted officers in the real estate industry who play a role in selling real estate.
The REB has been conducting these sessions since last year to facilitate industry compliance with Section Six of the Proceeds of Crime (POCA) (Money Laundering Prevention) Regulations. The session also seeks to ensure industry professionals are fully conversant with requirements of the International Financial Action Task Force.
Berger, an attorney-at-law, is intermittent adviser to the US Department of Treasury, Economic Crimes Team, Office of Technical Assistance in Washington, DC and has over 10 years of experience in anti-money laundering training, having trained in several countries around the world.
Sandra Watson, CEO of the Real Estate Board, thanked the US Treasury Department and US Embassy for their continued support.
"Ms Berger will provide the industry with the international perspective so that real estate practitioners can be made aware that they are not being 'singled out', but the standards of POCA are international standards that they are required to adhere to."
She said other countries were already complying with these standards. According to Joshua Polacheck, counsellor for public affairs at the US Embassy, Kingston, treasury trainers have been in Jamaica over the past year providing technical assistance to the REB.
"Jamaican law enforcement has found that funds gained through illicit activities are being used to acquire real estate, and due to the nature of the clientele, there is a culture of fear around reporting these transactions to Jamaican authorities, specifically the FID (Financial Investigations Division). Because the clientele is not being flagged, the illicit funds are then effectively laundered through these real estate transactions," said Polacheck.
The REB is designated as a 'competent authority' to monitor compliance with POCA and its regulations by real estate dealers as designated non-financial institutions. The board is also responsible for issuing guidelines to dealers regarding effective measures to prevent money laundering.