On May 8, 2023 the Financial Investigations Division (FID) successfully secured a Pecuniary Penalty Order (PPO) of J$1.1 million in the Supreme Court against a 40-year-old St. Catherine man with no known legitimate source of income, Omar Thomas. The PPO was granted by the Hon. Ms. Justice C. Wiltshire pursuant to Section 5 (3)(b) of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
Despite a previous conviction for Possession of Cocaine in September 2003, Thomas’ most recent legal woes began on June 8, 2017 when an intelligence-led operation was executed by Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) officers attached to the Narcotics Division on a premises occupied by Thomas in Old Harbour Bay. This resulted in the discovery of a quantity of cocaine in addition to cash for which Thomas could not cite a legitimate source.
On November 13, 2018 Thomas pleaded guilty to:
- Possession of Criminal Property contrary to Section 93(1) of the POCA;
- Possession of Cocaine contrary to Section 8B of the Dangerous Drugs Act and;
- Dealing in Cocaine contrary to Section 8A(1) of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
By virtue of his guilty plea and conviction for the stated offences, along with the findings of further investigations, it was proven that Thomas benefitted from a criminal lifestyle. Analysis undertaken by financial forensic examiners of the FID, assessed his benefit from criminal conduct at approximately J$1.85 million. Thomas was ordered by the Court to pay J$1.1 million (J$500,000 on May 8, 2023 followed by six instalments of J$100,000 on the 30th day of each month effective May 30, 2023).
The FID’s Principal Director of Investigations, Keith Darien, commented, “The FID is impartial in the application of POCA, as our investigators will target both criminal enterprises and street level lawbreakers who obtain their wealth from crime. We continue to caution persons to resist the urge to engage in crime as the FID and its partners remain resolute in identifying and forfeiting any asset which is derived from unlawful conduct.
There is an upward trend in the number of cases being investigated and brought before the Courts for breaches of POCA. Jamaica’s law enforcement capacity and dedication to detect, investigate and, prosecute POCA-related breaches are constantly being improved; the results of this are borne out in successive favourable verdicts by the Courts in recent times. Citizens are therefore being encouraged to channel their energy and creativity into productive, legitimate business ventures.”