Money Laundering Relatives Forfeit J$100M in Land

Eva Mae Sterling, the 61-year-old Manchester businesswoman who was recently convicted on money laundering charges, her son, Nicholaus Chang, and sister, Marline Ledford, had over J$100million in property forfeited to the Crown on June 13, 2022 in the Supreme Court.

In May 2022 Sterling, pleaded guilty to two counts of ‘Engaging in a Transaction Involving Criminal Property’ contrary to section 92 (1) (a) of the Proceeds of Crime Act, 2007 (POCA). She a was fined J$300,000 or nine months’ imprisonment on one count, and 12 months’ imprisonment – suspended for 24 months – on the second count, for her role in money laundering.

Her co-accused, Chang and Ledford, pleaded not guilty. As part of a plea deal with Sterling where she admitted liability for the crime, the Crown offered no evidence against Chang and Ledford; the Court discharged them without trial. Five parcels of land measuring over 600 acres across four parishes which they purchased for approximately J$105million between 2012 and 2014 were forfeited from the trio.

In St. Elizabeth, there are two parcels; one jointly owned by Sterling and her son, Chang. The other parcel was solely owned by Ledford. Meanwhile, Sterling was listed as the owner of land in Clarendon and Ledford listed as the sole owner on two other properties – one in St. Catherine and the other in St. Mary.

In commenting on the case, the FID’s Director of Legal Services, Courtney Smith noted, “the Proceeds of Crime Act aims to deter the occurrence of Financial Crime by ensuring that those who are found guilty of breaching the act, lose the benefits of their criminal activities.

We encourage the public to remain on the right side of POCA. Do not encourage or enable persons engaged in criminal activities. Further, do not interact with any property or cash from their ill-gotten gains. Do not be a conduit for criminal proceeds.”