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Anti Money Laundering

When developing its offshore sector, Belize has taken into account the possibility that offshore vehicles may be used for money-laundering and other illegal activities. For this reason, in 1996 Belize passed the Money Laundering Prevention Act. In general, this Act establishes mechanisms and procedures to avoid and fight illegal proceedings and ensures Belize's strategy to develop a reputable offshore services sector.

The Money Laundering Prevention Act 1996 was published by the Administration of Justice of Belize, and defines money laundering as direct or indirect engaging in a transaction that involves property that is the proceeds of crime; or receiving, possessing, managing, investing, disguising, disposing of or bringing into Belize any property that is the proceeds of crime, knowing or having reasonable grounds for believing the same to be the proceeds of crime. Under Belize's legislation money laundering is also considered an offence for the purpose of any law relating to extradition or the rendition of fugitive offenders.

The legislation stipulates that anyone who engages or who attempts, aids, abets, counsels, or procures the commission of, or who conspires to commit the offence of money laundering is guilty of an offence. The above also includes such persons who at the time of the commission of an offence acted in an official capacity for or on behalf of a body of persons (either corporate or unicorporate) or purported to act in such capacity. However, if such persons provide evidence showing that the offence was committed without their knowledge, consent or connivance, charges may be dropped.

The penalty imposed on those convicted of money laundering can be in the form of a fine, ranging from US $12,500 to $50,000, or a term of imprisonment of 3-6 years, or a combination of both fine and imprisonment.

After a person has been convicted of a money laundering offence, the court may order that the property, proceeds or instrumentalities derived from or connected or related to such an offence be forfeited and disposed of in such manner as the Minister may direct. However, all prosecutions, actions, suits or other proceedings brought for any offence, or for the recovery of any fines, penalties or forfeitures, need to be made within 5 years after the date the offence was committed or the cause of action accrued.