THE Government has been given a period of three months by the High Court within which to return the more than $24 million seized by the police from the home of convicted murderer Donald 'Zeeks' Phipps in 2005.
In addition, the Court ordered on Tuesday that the Government foot Phipps' legal bill in relation to his effort to have the money returned after charges of unlawful possession of the cash against him and his lady friend Yvonne Sailsman was dropped.
According to Justice Frank Williams'order, the Government is to return J$8,359,650; £9,020; US$152,185; and Can$3,980.
News of the seized funds made the headlines in 2007 when it was reported that approximately $17million of the money was missing from the vault of the Financial Investigation Division (FID).
An investigation was conducted into the matter and a file sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for a ruling. However, the office recommended disciplinary action against a number of FID officers. The officers reportedly left the FID before any action could be taken.
As a result of the incident, money seized by the division is now being held at the Bank of Jamaica.
Phipps is currently serving a sentence of life imprisonment for double murder following his conviction in 2006. His conviction and sentence was upheld in June by the United Kingdom-based Privy Council, Jamaica's final appellate court, dismissed Phipps' appeal against his sentence.