BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, December 30, 2008 – Financial fraud in Barbados has almost doubled this year, prompting law enforcement officials to boost resources to tackle this white collar crime.
Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin yesterday told reporters at his end-of-year press conference of this “steep rise” in financial crime, noting that BDS$10 million (US$5 million) had been stolen this year compared to BDS$5.6 million (US$2.8 million) last year. So far this year, 76 persons have been charged for fraud-related offences.
“These reports came from both the public and private sector,” he said. “It has caused some concern to us, mainly from a moral standpoint as well because our investigators have complained that sometimes they are merely used as debt collectors; that persons who are defrauded will make arrangements to have money repaid, but at a stage when that involves quite a lot of man hours on the part of our investigators.”
At the same time, Commissioner Dottin revealed that manpower in the Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) of the police force will be increased to deal with the situation. He said the number of investigators will be increased from eight.
The top cop also revealed that the FCU would also be building capacity to deal with cyber crime.
“We are developing the capacity in the Force in order to address this issue…As you are aware a lot of commerce is now being conducted electronically and we feel that we should be in a position to afford businesses the type of support that is required in such an environment,” he told reporters
Commissioner Dottin said the matter would also be addressed at a regional level.
“We have been having some discussions in the region on this matter and we have been told that even though at the level of individual police forces you need to have those skills, that perhaps it is better and more efficient to have it as part of a regional group,” he said. “Very shortly I believe that we should have a facility in the region and we are looking forward anxiously to that.”