FORMER Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke had amassed $300 million in assets up to the time of his arrest more than three years ago, the police say.
Speaking at this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said Coke had been careful in masking his ownership of several properties, cash and other physical assets.
“… We have made moves to take some of that wealth from him, but one thing that must be said about people like Coke, they skilfully conceal their wealth,” Ellington told Observer reporters and editors.
He said Coke, who is now serving a 23-year sentence after pleading guilty to racketeering charges in a New York court, listed ownership of some of his lavish assets in the names of relatives and associates.
“We found houses, expensive motor vehicles in the names of persons who were not able to work and appeared to be unconnected to the day-to-day activities of the criminal enterprise. But they were holders of substantial assets. But it is not unique to Coke. We will find many of the significant crime actors using this method of concealing their ill-gotten gains,” he said.
The police, meanwhile, have been working in tandem with the Financial Investigation Division of the Ministry of Finance and recently seized millions in cash and assets.
“In recent times, we have taken hundreds of millions from convicted criminals through the Proceeds of Crimes Act — houses, expensive vehicles, and pleasure craft,” the police commissioner said.
Ellington, however, lamented the lengthy periods it takes for these assets to be disposed of and the financial gain used, in turn, to bolster law enforcement efforts.
“It takes a long time to get them through the various processes so that they can be converted or so that they can be sold. We think some assets should be sold; a lot of assets are taken from criminals and can be put to other use,” he said.