Jersey fiduciary acquitted of failing to report 'suspicious' transaction

Thursday, 02 July 2015

Jersey's Royal Court has acquitted a director of trust and company service provider STM Fiduciaire of charges related to suspicious transaction reports, in the first criminal prosecution of its kind.

Michelle Jardine was the Money Laundering Reporting Officer at STM in May and June 2011, when the offences were alleged to have taken place. She was accused of failing to report a suspicious transaction where funds were remitted by an unknown third party to a politically exposed person (PEP) in a high-risk jurisdiction.

She was prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999, part of Jersey's stringent money laundering legislation. It requires a financial intermediary to report transactions to the Jersey Financial Crimes Unit if there are 'reasonable grounds' to suspect it was linked to money laundering. Failure to do so is a criminal offence under s34 of this legislation, with a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

This is the first time that anyone has been prosecuted for this offence, as opposed to facing civil sanctions as was the case previously.

The trial lasted four days, during which Jardine was represented by law firm Collas Crill. Her counsel, Advocate Nuno Santos-Costa, argued that if the court decided to convict her, it would be setting an 'extremely low criminal threshold' for the finance industry as to when suspicious activity reports should be made.

Her acquittal (and that of STM, which was also charged) should give a 'measure of comfort' to Jersey's financial sector.
Santos-Costa commented: 'Whilst alarm bells should sound when dealing with PEPs and high-risk jurisdictions, this judgment has shown that, with prudent and diligent background searches, the processes undertaken by Mrs Jardine can withstand scrutiny.'


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