Friday, August 25, 2023


A warning, issued previously by the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) to its members, details a massive, ongoing money laundering operation in progress in and through Barbados banks, using a number of the country's more than one thousand attorneys, to place and layer United States Dollars (USD$), coming from abroad. The then-President of the BBA, ROSALIND SMITH-MILLAR, in a letter reportedly distributed to lawyers admitted to practice in Barbados, warned the attorneys to expect the arrival of checks, via international courier, from non-clients, with instructions for them to deposit the funds in local commercial banks. Such deposits, many of which have already occurred, constitute criminal activity under Barbadian law. Apparently, bankers there have noticed the appearance of similar checks being presented for deposit, and sounded the alarm. Why this information was never widely distributed we cannot say.

Given that the checks are denominated in US Dollars, should any of the lawyers in receipt of these  financial instruments have deposited the same, they may be now in violation of American anti-money laundering laws, which have been held by US courts to confer extraterritorial jurisdiction upon such transactions, and the participants thereto. There are reports that a number of Bajan lawyers have taken such steps, and made the deposits, which bode ill for them in the future. Other lawyers have declined to act, and notified the BBA of the existence of these attempts to involve them in what will certainly be held to be money laundering activity.

We wonder aloud why the Government of Barbados, which most certainly is aware of the appearance of the illicit checks, never notified the public about the clear and present danger posed by this obvious and bold direct solicitation of the legal community to engage in a money laundering conspiracy. We do not know what financial remuneration has been promised or delivered to the lawyers, to persuade them to engage in what they surely must recognize as criminal activity, but typically laundrymen offer a small percentage of the checks as payment, to be deducted from the total amount, after the funds have cleared and are remitted abroad. 

Barbados has an extremely large number of attorneys, far in excess of the amount of legal business needed and existing in that small island nation (population estimated at 280,000), and as the result, many of the ambitious but amoral lawyers there have stooped to engaging in criminal activity to support themselves in an affluent lifestyle, including in money laundering of narcotics proceeds. One prominent attorney, together with her entire family, was recently murdered after she failed to return the proceeds of narcotics crime, which she allegedly was laundering for drug clients. An explosion and fire at her home resulted in her death, as well as that of her husband an minor children. The crime has gone unsolved.

Additionally, errant lawyers in Barbados often supplement their small incomes by stealing client money from real estate transactions, insurance claims and probate matters. A number of victims of such fraudulent activities have recently filed a RICO case. against more than 90 Barbadian attorneys in the United States. See Alex Mitchell et al vs. Mia Amor Mottley et al,  previously reported on this blog.

Compliance officers at financial institutions in the US, UK and Canada should immediately check all the correspondent accounts that they have with banks in Barbados to see whether these money laundering instruments, from lawyers there, have appeared. Given the obvious threats posed by these instruments, consider this an urgent matter. In the event that such payments are discovered or suspected, compliance directors should advise bank counsel of a details forthwith, and consider filing Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) without further delay, to protect the bank's interests. 

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