Caribbean News Round – Up

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Cop held, beaten during attempted break-in

crime[Jamaica Observer] – Residents of Morgan’s district in Spaulding, Clarendon, on Mondat morning set upon robbers in their community, only to later discover that one of the men was a police constable.
Reports reaching OBSERVER ONLINE are that the policeman and two others were attempting to break into a house in the area about 3:00 am.
The policeman’s accomplices managed to escape, but he was held and beaten by the residents before being handed over to the police.
Sources say he received several blows to the head and has been admitted to hospital in serious condition.
When contacted, the police’s Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) said they were unaware of the incident.

US $58,000 seized, man charged

Crime unit[Antigua Guardian] A British Virgin Islands (BVI) resident, Cornell Penn appeared before a magistrate on Monday charged for breaching the Money Laundering Prevention Act.

Penn has been placed on remand at Her Majesty’s Prison. He has been slapped with four charges including failing to declare $58,000 (USD).

Penn was arrested on August 7 following a joint operation between the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP), the Immigration Department, the Customs and Excise Division and the Antigua & Barbuda Coast Guard. According to the ONDCP, Penn had the money in his possession when he was arrested.

He reportedly piloted his motor vessel to Antigua & Barbuda on Wednesday August 5 and proceeded to bypass the requirements for arrival into the country. The BVI resident allegedly entered the country via Heritage Quay during the dead of night.

Reports are that there were no customs or immigration officers on duty at the port of entry at the time, so Penn did not declare the cash, which he had in his possession.

The ONDCP in a statement outlined that under the Money Laundering Prevention Act, it is an offence for anyone to fail to declare currencies of US $10,000 or more in cash or monetary instruments.

A person guilty of a money laundering offence is liable on conviction to a fine of $200,000, but which may extend to one million dollars and to imprisonment of a term of seven years.

Reports are that the ONDCP has made application for the detention of the sum until a forfeiture hearing is done.

It is alleged that Penn told the authorities that he came to Antigua to purchase an item with the money. However, upon investigations, this was proven to be untrue.

Penn’s trial is set for August 28 before Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh.

Colombia ‘to reunite families in Venezuela border crisis’

Border crossings between Venezuela and Colombia remains closed in Tachira province
Border crossings between Venezuela and Colombia remains closed in Tachira province

[BBC] – Colombia is to offer citizenship to Venezuelan relatives of Colombians who have been deported from Venezuela, officials say.
It is the latest move by the Colombian government to ease a crisis triggered by Venezuela’s closure of a key stretch of their mutual border.
More than 1,000 Colombians have been deported from Venezuela as part of a crackdown on smuggling in the area.
Some complained about being separated from their Venezuelan spouses.
Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said that the government wanted to help those Venezuelans married to Colombians who wanted to move to Colombia.
“We’re going to give them Colombian citizenship, we want families to live together, not to break them apart,” she told Colombian radio on Sunday.

Brazil mayor who ran town via WhatsApp wanted for corruption

Lidiane Leite
Lidiane Leite

[BBC] – A mayor in Brazil is on the run after she was accused of siphoning off funds from the school system and running the town remotely through WhatsApp.

Lidiane Leite, 25, lived a life of luxury in the capital of Maranhao state, prosecutors said.
They say her only contact with her town, Bom Jardim, was through daily WhatsApp messages to her cabinet.

An arrest warrant has been issued against her and her boyfriend, who served as her main adviser. Ms Leite’s lawyer said she was not aware of any wrongdoing.

She was in her early 20s when Beto Rocha, her boyfriend, was banned from running for mayor in 2012 for alleged corruption. Ms Leite stepped in and was elected. She appointed Mr Rocha as her main adviser and went to live in the state capital, Sao Luis, 275km (170 miles) away.

“She was too young and and inexperienced when she took office,” said her lawyer, Carlos Barros. “She lacked confidence and delegated many tasks to Mr Rocha.”
Brazilian media say the couple ended their relationship earlier this year and Mr Rocha resigned shortly after.
Ms Leite went on the run after her name was mentioned in a federal investigation on the misuse of state education funds. Operation Eden uncovered evidence that some $4m (£2.6m) in funds for Bom Jardim’s schools went missing.

The town’s already precarious education system has now collapsed. Teachers are not being paid. An arrest warrant was issued on Thursday and a new mayor – Ms Leite’s former deputy – was sworn in on Saturday promising to carry out a full investigation.
A state judge said he would seek an international arrest warrant if she does not hand herself in by Tuesday.

Maranhao, in north-eastern Brazil, is one of the country’s poorest states.

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