Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 7th 2013 Contents A27
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A large amount of liquid cash
floating in the economy is luring
businessmen from Eastern Europe
to set up private members clubs in
Many believe poor enforcement of
regulatory controls within the gaming
industry has caused the Eastern Euro-
pean casino chain to spread its oper-
Stipulations outlined by the Finan-
cial Intelligence Unit (FIU) are aimed
at regulating the gaming industry.
T&T has over 72 private members
clubs including those from Eastern
Europe, all of which are regulated by
the FIU, but there are no registered
casinos as this is not permitted by
However, expert in the field of
extradition and money laundering
laws, attorney David West said the
Gambling and Betting Act 22 (1963)
is outdated and the Proceeds of Crime
Act (2009) has never been used to
charge anyone accused of suspicious
financial transactions in private mem-
One of the Eastern European clubs,
Trinidad Club Princess, has been open
on Independence Square, Port-of-
Spain, since 2006. Club Princess was
named in a lawsuit against attorney
Christlyn Moore before she became
Justice Minister. The court case
involved a dispute over the share-
holding of Forty Four Ltd and Club
Princess Ltd. At the time, Moore was
acting as corporate secretary for two
companies, Dallas Corp and Alnando
Corporation. In the case, Moore and
two Turkish businessmen Sudi Ozkan
and Zafer Hakan Unal were accused
of oppressive and unlawful conduct
towards American businessman
Attorney: Revamp the law
There was no listing of Forty Four
Ltd or Alnando Corporation in T&T s
registered list of private clubs, but
West said there are about five East
European casinos in Trinidad.
"I suspect they did their market
research and found out that T&T has
a lot of liquid cash, and casinos are
a good business. Right now, we need
a proper act and proper legislation to
regulate these industries," West said.
He feels the time has come for a
complete revamping of the law.
"Under the Gambling and Betting
Act, you cannot police the industry
with today s modern technology. It
is outdated and must be revamped,"
He said the five casinos from East-
ern Europe have been functioning on
their own and have no partnerships
with other private members clubs.
West noted that under the Proceeds
of Crime Act, the FIU has the power
to exercise supervisory authority on
the casinos. He also said that the casi-
no operators are mandated by law to
report any suspicious activities.
"This act allows the FIU to overlook
the running of any casino. I know
that they have compliance pro-
grammes and outreach sessions. The
Financial Action Task force also has
the power to deal with casinos.
"Recommendation 22 states that
the FIU will be the supervisory
authority for the casino," West said.
He also added that the Proceeds
of Crime Act stipulates due diligence
and record-keeping requirements at
casinos. Any transaction exceeding
$95,000 has to be reported to the
West said casinos provide employ-
ment for thousands of people.
"There is nothing wrong with a
casino, once it is properly regulated
and regulations are enforced," West
Subhas Ramkhelawan, the founder
and managing director of stockbroking
firm Bourse Securities Ltd, also said
regulations must be expanded to meet
the sophisticated operations of the
"We have spent time applying fees
and charges and licence fees for tables
and different games, but the regulation
about who can participate and how
well they participate needs a second
look," Ramkhelawan said.
He added that the Financial Intel-
ligence Unit deals with counter-ter-
"The FIU legislation is sufficient
to provide proper oversight for money
laundering and counter-terrorism.
However, we dont want casino oper-
ations to infect ordinary citizens. We
want enforcement, preventative action
and proper regulatory controls,"
He said enforcement was also
Casino operators declined to com-
ment on the history and background
of their operations.
'All members clubs'
registered with FIU'
Club Princess s casino manager
Haroun Urbey said his business started
in 2006. It runs 224 slots and nine
table games at Independence Square.
He declined to answer any more
questions, saying, "We don t need to
answer these questions. You can speak
to our lawyers."
Abas Khalid, the manager of Island
Club casino, also refused to divulge
details of his business operations.
"I don t have to answer you. I am
not interested in this," Khalid said.
Contacted by phone, chairman of
the Association of Members Clubs
Charles Sookhan said T&T does not
have casinos as there are no provisions
in the law for casinos to operate. He
said, however, that private members
clubs function like casinos and under
the Gambling and Betting act, pro-
visions are made for the establishment
of private members clubs.
He added that regulatory controls
are in place, as all members clubs are
registered with the FIU.
"The FIU has outlined the condi-
tions and regulations that the industry
should adhere to. We have discussed
compliance and best-practice issues
as well as full disclosure," Sookhan
said. "We had to submit our compli-
ance programmes and they have vet-
ted it. It is quite a lengthy process,
and similar to banks and other finan-
cial institutions, we have to report
source of funds and suspicious activ-
Asked about internal controls to
monitor responsible gambling behav-
iours, Sookhan said this was often
"You can t quantify people s behav-
iours. A customer could be playing
to win a big haul. It s hard to say if
they are playing a large amount to
win back their money or if they are
not playing to win," Sookhan
He said there are over 75 private
members clubs but no casinos in
T&T, and all their staff were well
trained in spotting suspicious financial
transactions. He also said no one
under 18 is allowed in casinos.
Sookhan revealed that more than
7,000 people are employed directly
in casinos and another 5,000 indi-
He denied that most of the private
members clubs in T&T are owned
by foreigners. To acquire a licence,
Sookhan said, you must apply to the
court and then pay a $1,500 licensing
fee. He also said these clubs pay taxes
to the Government and contribute to
T&T s revenue earnings.
A 2009 report compiled by the Asia/Pacific
Group on Money Laundering and the Financial
Action Task Force said T&T had 72 registered
private members' clubs.
The report said the clubs operate like
casinos, but are not supervised by the
In Bermuda, the Cayman Islands,
Guatemala and Guyana, casinos are illegal.
Because casinos are attractive venues for
criminals, recommendations were made to
ensure that casinos are not used as a cover
for crime. Governments were advised to
impose more stringent supervision and record
keeping on casino operations in order to track
and secure government revenues.
The report also said casino staff and
managers must pay particular attention to
customers' financial transactions and
Within Europe, members of the European
Union (EU) have taken responsibility to
implement anti-money laundering and counter
financial terrorism measures on casinos using
stipulated EU directives.
In 2006, former prime minister Patrick
Manning said he wanted to regulate the
gaming industry, saying global research
findings have proven that the gaming industry
destroys the financial security of families,
affects the stability of marriages, encourages
deviant behaviour among children, undermines
work ethics, causes increases in crime,
including money laundering, and gives rise to
Casinos have continued to flourish around
the world and especially in developing
countries because of a lack of anti-money
laundering and counter-financial-terrorism
coverage for casino sectors. The report said a
number of jurisdictions clearly lack awareness
of money-laundering and terrorist-financing
risks in the casino and gaming sectors.
A significant number of jurisdictions have
limited regulatory controls, including "fit and
proper tests for casino owners, managers and
staff, internal controls. Among the internal
controls are the ability of staff members to
identify and report suspicious financial
In many jurisdictions the casino regulator
proactively assists the flow of AML/CTF
information to the FIU by conducting
inspection programmes or audits which seek
to identify suspicious activity which the casino
operator or regulator then reports to the FIU
and/or law enforcement.
Liquid cash luring
casino owners to T&T
Dr Solaiman Juman, a practising medical
doctor in T&T, past president of the T&T
Medical Association and lecturer at the
University of the West Indies, has been
appointed as head of the Commonwealth
Medical Association (CMA).
Juman replaced Dr Gordon Caruana-Dingli,
of Malta, and will occupy the position for the
next three years.
Speaking yesterday at the 23rd Triennial
Meeting of the CMA at the Hyatt Regency,
Port-of-Spain, after his appointment, Juman
said national medical associations in the
Commonwealth contributed to the health of
about two billion people.
He said his goal in the next three years is to
make the CMA more relevant to the people.
umbrella body for national medical
associations so we can find common goals,
common policies and common directions," he
The CMA conference is being held in T&T for
the first time.
Describing the benefit of hosting the CMA
conference in T&T, Juman said, "We will look at
best practices in the rest of the
Commonwealth, some of which we hope to
take on board to influence our health care in
He said the use of mobile technology in
health care in India had caught his attention.
Trini heads C'wealth medical body
Trinidad Club Princess, located on Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.
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