[Updated with video] US Consul General Grace Shelton handed over a cheque for $672,225 to Premier Paula Cox this afternoon [Aug 15], with the funds representing Bermuda’s share of assets forfeited to U.S authorities from an illegal internet pharmacy operation based in the United States.
The operation laundered its proceeds abroad, including through a bank account in Bermuda. In 2009 the operation’s leader Jude LaCour was convicted and sentenced to 97 months in federal prison for drug trafficking and money laundering. A U.S. District Judge also ordered the forfeiture of assets, including those in Bermuda, in the case.
Ms Shelton said the Bermuda Police and Justice system played an important role in the case, and she was “pleased to share the forfeited assets with our ally and friend, Bermuda.”
A statement from the US Consulate said: “Bermudian authorities provided important law enforcement assistance in recovering the money by restraining funds in a bank account in Bermuda under the control of Mr. LaCour and working with the U.S. Government to recover and forfeit those funds.”
Consul General Grace Shelton said “This was a very long, complex case on which the United States and Bermuda worked together cooperatively, as we often do, to see that justice was done. I am very pleased to share the forfeited assets with our ally and friend, Bermuda.
“The Bermuda Police Service and Bermuda’s justice system played an important role in this case, which is a excellent illustration of the outstanding cooperation among Bermuda and U.S. law enforcement agencies.
“When a country provides assistance that is important to the successful forfeiture of assets, the United States wants to show its appreciation. That is what we have done here today.”
“This is a prime example of great international law enforcement cooperation. The FBI and Bermuda Police Service have and continue to enjoy a productive, collaborative relationship,” said FBI Legal Attaché David Brooks.
It is the policy of the United States to recognize through international asset sharing all foreign assistance that facilitates U.S. forfeitures. International sharing is governed by federal statutes and international agreements.
Premier Cox said: “I am pleased to accept Bermuda’s share of forfeited assets — in the amount of $672,225 — arising from the successful prosecution in the United States of a drug trafficker and money launderer.
“Bermuda’s law enforcement authorities worked closely with United States authorities to apprehend and prosecute the leader of an illicit operation who used a bank account in Bermuda as part of its financial network. Upon sentencing, a US District Judge ordered the forfeiture of assets accumulated in the illegal operation including assets held in Bermuda.
“I wish to thank the Bermuda Police Service and the Department of Public Prosecutions and our Judiciary for the successful role that they played in the joint operation.
“I consider that this success underscores the important role that Bermuda plays, and continues to play, in the fight against global crime. It also highlights the strength of Bermuda’s cooperative relationship with our friend and neighbor — the United States of America.
“The funds will used to assist Bermudians in standing strong against the ravages of drug trafficking and drug use.
“Let me end by thanking the US Consul General Ms. Grace Shelton and the representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance to Bermuda in obtaining a share of the forfeited assets,” Premier Cox concluded.
There were three FBI agents in attendance today: David Brooks, FBI Legal Attaché (Eastern Caribbean), Bridgetown, Barbados; William Nicholson, Assistant Legal Attaché, Bridgetown, Nassau and John Groeschner, FBI agent in charge of case. You can read the full FBI press release about the case here.
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