Bank Fraud – Is the Legal System Too Weak to Punish the Guilty?

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When crimes go unpunished in any system, the criminals get emboldened to commit more offences. The banking infrastructure in Jamaica has reportedly suffered a loss of $750 million in the past year, as a result of bank frauds. However, the number of convictions for such financial frauds is unacceptably low at best. Where is the deficiency in the system? Lack of adequate staff in the investigative arm? Weak laws that let the criminals get away easily? Inadequately trained manpower to establish and convince the court of the frauds? It could be a combination of all these factors. The solution might also lie with all the stakeholders within the system.

The Investigative Team Must be Strengthened

Within the policing system worldwide, a quick and effective investigation, filing the legal charge sheet with the evidence gathered, result in getting convictions. When there is a decent rate of conviction, that is, the number of cases where the courts agree with the prosecution and reign down due punishment, compared to the total number of cases filed in the courts, the crime rate can come down. Criminals will know they will be caught and punished and will hesitate before they indulge in their next crime. The current state of affairs in Jamaica is the exact opposite of this.

To begin with, the Fraud Squad within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is reportedly short-staffed. Even if one assumes there is adequate manpower, there is no clarity on their levels of competence in investigating these financial frauds. The criminals use advanced technology and software and the investigators need to be well informed and always a couple steps ahead to catch them, get them before a judge and ultimately locked away.

Courts Too Lenient?

There is the general sense that the courts too, do not consider the cases brought to them to be of a serious nature. They may feel the banks, in any case, cover the losses due to frauds through insurance and there is really no single, individual, victim. This may result in the cases being pushed to the background and justice delayed. The general allegation is that complaints to the Fraud Squad made back in 2018 are yet to be acted upon by the Police. The worst part of this is that the average Jamaican loses confidence in the system. There are cases of those who have lost money through bank frauds, but have not even gone to the Fraud Squad and registered a complaint.

That does not speak well about the police-legal system of a modern nation.

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