The Financial Investigations Team (FIT) is the investigative/operational arm of the Financial Investigations Division. There are two (2) sub-units within FIT, namely the Financial Crime Investigations Unit (FCIU) of the Ministry of Finance and Planning and the Constabulary Financial Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. FIT is staffed by a cadre of qualified and experienced Forensic Examiners and a team of highly trained and vetted Police Officers. Administrative and support staff are also assigned to the Team. The overall strategic leadership and guidance of FIT is jointly shared by the Unit Directors, i.e., the Principal Director of the FCIU and the Director of the CFU. There are three (3) FIT Teams, each managed jointly by a Senior Forensic Examiner and a Detective Sergeant of Police. This collaborative approach is necessary for keeping with the legitimate authority bestowed on police officers to conduct criminal investigations and on the Forensic Examiners to conduct civil recovery of property investigations as well as to support the police as an expert witness.
There are an additional twenty-seven (27) Forensic Examiners and Police Officers in the teams. The Police Officers who are assigned to the FID have a direct chain of command to the Organized Crime Investigations Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Both Forensic Examiners and Police Officers are authorized financial investigators pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act. The Forensic Examiners are also authorized officers in keeping with the Financial Investigations Division Act.
The officers of FID undertake investigations in two (2) broad categories of financial crime matters, namely criminal and civil investigations. Its main function is to investigate offenders for money laundering and to recover tainted property, viz, instrumentality or proceeds (benefits) of crime. The four (4) specific types of investigations performed by FIT, utilizing specialized investigative tools under POCA and FIDA are:
- Money laundering
- Cash seizure
- Civil recovery of property
- Forfeiture or confiscation
In performing property recovery investigations, FIT quite often, secure restraint orders against such properties preventing its owner(s) from disposing of, dissipating, damaging, destroying or otherwise dealing with it. This strategy is effective in disrupting criminal activities, even prior to a suspect being charged or convicted of any crime. All civil recovery of property investigations is undertaken solely by FIT. In addition, to FIT, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Jamaica Customs Department also have powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act to undertake confiscation and cash seizure investigations respectively. The former is a conviction based recovery tool. In such matters, benefit hearings are held by the Supreme Court subsequent to an accused person being convicted of any offence from which he/she obtains a benefit.
In fulfilling its strategic objectives, FIT works closely with major police entities that are involved in the investigation of serious and organized crimes. These entities include the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division (TCND), Organized Crime Investigations Division (OCID) and the Fraud Squad. To this end, the FID has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
In addition to undertaking investigations initiated locally, FIT collaborates and cooperates with overseas law enforcement agencies in respect to transnational organized crime investigations. These types of investigations predominantly involve persons convicted for drug trafficking, lottery scamming or money laundering activities in overseas jurisdictions and who have transferred large amounts of money to family members or associates in Jamaica or own assets of substantial value in the country which are suspected to be the proceeds of criminality.