Money Laundering: Does It Really Affect Me?

14 March 2016

160314 Money Laundering AH - Image 1

Is money laundering for the fat cats and the drug lords, and has nothing to do with the Regular Joe and Joanna?

First, a reminder on what money laundering is: a series of processes used by criminal elements to convert or clean dirty money into clean, untraceable funds, acceptable by all. Money laundering often involves a complex series of transactions that are usually difficult to separate.

Does Money Laundering really affect us (the regular people)? Yes!

This is how it affects you, yes you sitting down here, reading this.

It destabilizes the economy and financial systems

With this extra, easy dirty money being pumped into the economy on a daily basis, you would notice that there is too much money floating around which results in price inflation of certain high value items such as house and land. Let’s say the median salary in Trinidad and Tobago is below TTD$15,000 monthly. This may qualify for a mortgage of about TT$1.1 million, yet it will be a challenge to purchase a property around this price range.

When you look at the real estate market you notice extreme prices being called for, so much so that the prices have the experts shocked at what they are seeing.

It is a known fact that money launderers are interested in purchasing luxuries or high valued properties; this will have the domino effect as a “gold rush” would start, and everyone will want part of the action, properties all over the country will start going up will be above the reach of the average person.

The result is quite clear, just look out your window you would notice that many families are suffering as they are making ends meet just to pay for rent or make high mortgage repayments due to the inflated prices.

Money laundering is a bad seed and once it’s planted and gets its roots into an economy, its fruits are a continued poison that destroy happiness, family values, love and respect.

Yes, we went there!

Increased crime and corruption

Once money launderers succeed in getting away washing the dirty money and are able to continue servicing their customers, the more they and their customers (being criminals) continue with their illicit and immoral activities. This would mean more robberies, more kidnapping, more drug trafficking, more human trafficking, more gun trade, etc. All of these things affect our freedom to move around in this beautiful paradise twin-island we call home.

This also has the “what monkey see, money do” effect. More monkeys now imitate the hardened criminals to have a piece of the pie. This also leads God-fearing persons to turn to accepting bribes to just keep their head above water or just toe the line so as not to be targeted by criminal factors.

As a result all the values which we were brought up with have now been destroyed just for the sake of someone else to be rich. Corruption breeds corruption.

Undermining the legitimate private sector  

When criminals setup shop as a means of window-dressing their affairs, their legitimate competitors will suffer, as the criminals can afford to reduce prices and sell at a loss, taking up a larger portion of the market share, this will cause legitimate business to go under with substantial losses.

By unfairly competing in the market and under-cutting the prices of legitimate businesses, it is easy to become a monopoly or own significant market share…which then leads to a situation where they can wash more of their dirty money without any fear.

The result is loss of business, high unemployment, more crime, more broken homes and more loss of life.

Yes, we went there and stayed!

Loss of tax revenue

With the loss of legitimate business comes loss of tax revenue for the government nd it must also be noted that with higher unemployment; less PAYE and NIS for the national coffers. These criminals’ work is stealing, robbing, kidnapping etc. Do you really think they will care about tax evasion and defrauding the government? They will do whatever they want to keep their money, so what is it if they steal from the government? They will not care about schools, hospitals and other government funded institutes based on tax revenues.

Reputational risk for the country

Trinidad and Tobago, put into a ‘bad country’ box and closed off from the world. This can happen if criminals continue to have their way as they expand their own operations, kill legitimate business, grow ever more brazen and lead us collectively to a “blacklist”.

Being on a blacklist would affect everything from trade and commerce to food and clothing. It will prevent investments, banking relationships, financial and economic advancement, medical and educational growth and development.

Money laundering through such a small country like ours is hard to overcome and the stigma may well be felt for generations to come if T&T becomes known as a money laundering hub and a corruption hive.

Social Cost

It is quite obvious but with increased criminal activities we will see:

  • More disobedience and law breaking
  • More kidnappings and loss of life
  • More drug abuse and domestic violence
  • More robberies and theft
  • More fraud and corruptions
  • More unemployment and social welfare
  • More teenage pregnancies and child abuse
  • More drug and human trafficking
  • More unlicensed guns on the road
  • More children related crimes
  • More evil than you want to image

Back to the main question: does money laundering affect us? Yes, it does and in a very big way. It is an epidemic and we need to work together with the authorities to stamp it out.

So: fill out our forms please!      

Also please do not hesitate to take a look at the indicative prices here  as of today, March 14th, 2016.

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