Paper money and the criminal enterprise
Kaieteur News
April 4, 2007

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The number of crimes committed within recent times and blamed on inside information is astonishing. The most recent of these resulted in the shooting of a post master and the disappearance of some $8.2 million that was to be distributed to post offices in Canje and along the Corentyne.

Before that there was the loss of a similar sum from the automatic banking machine operated by Republic Bank. In this instance someone invaded the machine and removed the money. To do this the person needed the codes to the machine.

The investigations were inconclusive but the bank sacked six employees, all of whom had access to the codes. This sacking may engage the courts.

There have been other instances. We know of cases of people approaching the bank, withdrawing sums of money and on their way back to the point of origin, encountering armed men who relieve them of the cash. Rarely are these robbers caught, and try as they might, the police seem incapable of spotting the sudden wealth of individuals and are therefore unable to apprehend any suspect.

We have had the case of a man going to his office in Lodge with a sum of money to pay staff. He claimed that the perpetrators could have in no way known that he had withdrawn the money, some $1.8 million. His conclusion was that somehow or other the information was leaked to people with the ability to perpetuate a robbery, hence the act.

There was also the case of the diamond merchant who had some $90 million worth of the precious stone in his possession. He was accompanied by a bodyguard who happened to be armed. But for all the protection the gunmen targeted the diamond merchant and robbed him despite the presence of the bodyguard.

Subsequent investigations have led to charges being laid against the bodyguard. The suggestion is that the bodyguard set up the robbery—another probable case of an insider helping to stage a robbery.

Given these acts, one can only conclude that the collusion between people in bona fide employment and criminal elements is more pronounced than one would want to believe. It would suggest that more ordinary people have a relationship with armed criminals than was ever thought possible.

This is a frightening development. The police need the general public to cooperate if the force is to make any headway in solving crimes. It is now turning out that the very public may be more interested in helping the criminals.

Money is something that everyone craves, especially with the rising cost of living and the increasing costs of some of the things that would make life comfortable. But for the greater part, people simply go after money to be in a position to entertain themselves and friends where possible.

If this trend is as widespread as one believes then no company is safe. We recently had the case of one of the managers of a John Fernandes outlet being shot even as he deposited the day's takings. In this instance it is believed that the perpetrators followed him.

One must now wonder at the number of locations that are under surveillance by criminal elements. And all this results from the fact that in this day and age we are still a cash-oriented society when most other countries have long since adopted plastic money.

Large department stores in the developed world rarely have enough cash to attract the criminal element. Trade and purchases are done in plastic. In other instances, simple cheques are the currency used to effect transactions.

One is still at a loss to appreciate that people still prefer to run around with huge piles of cash to do simple transactions. A man seeking to purchase a vehicle would feel happy walking around with a few millions in a paper sack or in a cardboard box when he could simply write a cheque or procure a manager's cheque from the bank.

Given the spate of robberies we must wonder whether something drastic must not be done to educate the businessmen about their transactions.

But then again, being tax dodgers, the very business community that seems to feel the brunt of the attack by the criminal elements is unlikely to move away from the paper currency transactions.