FID scores big
SMITH... we have to pursue the proceeds of crime wherever it may be, whomever may have it, and however long it may take

LAWYERS representing convicted St Andrew-based businessman Donald Ho are yet to indicate if they will appeal a court decision that some $23 million seized from him should be forfeited to the State.

Up to Thursday — 14 days after the Financial Investigations Division (FID) successfully secured a Forfeiture Order against Ho in the Corporate Area Parish Court (Civil Division) — there was no notice of an intention to appeal. But the law provides a 30-day window after the date of the ruling during which an appeal, or any other filing, may be submitted.

According to the FID, cash in the sum of $658,500, US$150,955.00, £71, and CAN$85 was seized during a police operation at Ho's premises in 2013. The operation was part of a robbery investigation. Ho used all the legal channels available to him to challenge the forfeiture, but this ended in futility.

In commenting on the matter the FID's Director of Legal Service Courtney Smith said: "That is our job, that is why we exist. We have to pursue the proceeds of crime wherever it may be, whomever may have it, and however long it may take.

"This particular case shows the united resolve of the FID and our partner institutions, including the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). The police officers and the legal team at the FID worked tirelessly to ensure that all the evidence was in place, and all the evidence was presented to the court to assist the court in making this just decision."

Ho was arrested in connection with an April 9, 2013 robbery of a jewellery store located at the corner of Harbour Street and Church Street in downtown Kingston. It was reported that 16 high-value watches were stolen in the robbery. One of the robbers fled the scene, leaving behind a cellular phone.

A thorough cyber forensic examination of the device, along with CCTV footage of the robbery, lead JCF detectives to an address in St Catherine, which resulted in one of the suspects being questioned, arrested and charged. The police received further information from the interview which connected Ho to the jewellery store robbery and other illegal activities.

On April 16, 2013 Ho was apprehended by the police, following which a search was carried out at his Barbican, St Andrew, premises. The search resulted in the recovery and seizure of several items including jewellery believed to be the watches stolen from the jewellery store, an illegal firearm, and the cash.

Ho was charged for possession of criminal property as well as illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. He pleaded guilty to the gun and ammunition charge while the criminal property charge was dropped.

Following the criminal case against Ho, the FID pursued a cash forfeiture application against him which concluded with the court ruling in its favour.

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