United Sates Agents To Seize Close To $100 Million Jamaican Dollars Held In Jamaica By Pamela Watson An Imprisoned Accountant
United States (US) Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are expected in Jamaica in the coming days to take possession of J$100 million, or close to US$1.7 million, which Jamaican authorities have traced to Jamaica-born accountant Pamela Watson.
Watson is serving a prison sentence in the US on fraud charges.
Robin Sykes, chief technical director of the Financial Investigations Division (FID) of the Ministry of Finance, declined yesterday to elaborate on the planned handover "before it is all tied up with the Americans", explaining that he did not want to frustrate the process.
However, according to local law-enforcement sources, FID investigators discovered approximately US$535,000, or approximately J$6.4 million, in an account linked to Watson at one licensed financial institution and J$46 million at a second financial institution.
"They have traced and restrained J$107 million. The money has been handed over to the State and they are working with the IRS to have the cheques handed over shortly," one source revealed.
Cheques, amounting to US$535,000, are already prepared and they are waiting on the other company to liquidate some assets in her name.
Law-enforcement sources also believe that Watson made a significant investment in a popular local entity and revealed that further investigations are being conducted.
Watson, who has been described as a very popular activist in the Jamaican community in South Florida, was given a 78-month prison sentence last December after pleading guilty three months earlier to operating a tax-refund scheme that defrauded clients - mainly Jamaicans she claimed she was helping - and the US government of US$3.6 million.
US District Judge James Cohn also ordered her to pay restitution in the same amount.
During sentencing, it was revealed that she made restitution totalling US$1.2 million to the IRS in the seven months she was in custody awaiting trial.
She admitted in court that she falsified hundreds of tax returns and refund amounts on IRS forms without her clients' knowledge.
The court also heard evidence that she diverted money to her own accounts and accounts belonging to her spouse.
The FID boss disclosed that Watson was the subject of a proceeds-of-crime probe being conducted by his agency.
He also acknowledged that the J$107 million linked to Watson was under restraint by local authorities, but indicated that it was removed in light of a parallel investigation by US authorities.