Spending stolen cash not money laundering

| 03/08/2016 | 53 Comments
Cayman News Service

Rob Aspinall

(CNS): The director of public prosecutions has been accused of over-charging Robert Aspinall after laying money laundering charges against him when what he was doing was spending the cash he had stolen from the funds he was liquidating. Visiting judge, Justice Tim Owen found the indictment setting out the charges against the former Deloitte financial executive was “overloaded”, as the crown had originally charged him with 14 counts all relating to the same course of offending.

During sentencing submissions the crown argued that this type of offending has a particularly adverse impact on the country’s financial services sector and the local authorities needed to show international regulators that they were acting against offenders in these circumstances. But in his ruling the judge found that charging Aspinall with two counts of theft would have covered the criminal conduct, as he said it was not complicated.

He said the money laundering and fraud counts that were on the original indictment added nothing to the criminality in the case. Eight of the original charges have now been left on file after Aspinall pleaded guilty to six counts, including two counts of theft, two of forgery and two of converting criminal property.

In the defence submissions Aspinall’s attorney James Austin-Smith pointed out that the money laundering charges related to Aspinall using the money he stole, which, he said, was once simply known “as spending the cash”, and the judge agreed.

As he read his judgment Monday, Justice Owen said to the defendant, “Having stolen the money, you then set about spending your ill-gotten gains.” He said that in his view the multiple counts of fraud and money laundering were unnecessary. Referring to findings by the UK’s supreme court, he pointed out that other judges have warned against the practice of adding crimes to indictments when substantive offences such as theft have already covered the offending.

The judge said Aspinall had admitted he was a thief and the other counts were unnecessary.

“All thieves tend to spend the proceeds of their theft if they can before they are apprehended,” the judge said, noting that claiming thieves were also money launderers added nothing to the gravity of the conduct. The judge said that Aspinall’s crime would have been no less serious if he had stolen the money but not spent it, and that when thieves don’t get chance to spend the cash before they are caught, this does not “diminish their guilt”.

The judge pointed out that some charges, such as transferring or converting criminal property, are there to assist in prosecuting cases where the authorities cannot prove that an individual has been involved in actual theft but was involved in the laundering of stolen cash, not for prosecuting cases like the one before him, where from the get-go Aspinall admitted he had stolen the money.

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Category: Local News

Comments (53)

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  1. Sticky Wicket says:

    It is blatantly obvious that they consistently overload charges in the hopes of getting one to stick. It’s not enough their fault.

  2. Hilary says:

    What if others assisted with the spending of the money and let’s say some knew, wouldn’t that be considered money laundering? I think if my friends and family knows I’m making x and spending xxx and contributes to the spending such as the car, the properties, all expensed paid vacations from the ill gotten gains, then my perception that would be laundering whether you knew for certain the money was stolen or not. Just having an indication is also contributing to the crime. For example, if my husband bought me a $75,000 Porsche and I know he is making $30,000 a year with a mortgage and 3 children, this would definitely make me raise some eyebrows.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are already charges that would fit better without having to slap a money laundering charge on things that aren’t, like accessory after the fact if you reasonably should have known and did nothing. Money laundering is not when you just simply spend the money, it’s when you transfer it into various different businesses and accounts, usually numerous times, to create a complicated trail to hide that it was illegally obtained in the first place.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If this type of offending has a “particularly adverse impact on the country’s financial services sector and the local authorities needed to show international regulators that they were acting against offenders in these circumstances” why don’t they do anything about CIFA or the Turtle Farm or CINICO or the Airport Authority or duty waivers? Why not follow up any of the AG’s red-flag reports? Why not investigate a certain politician’s arrangements with the Ritz? Or dozens of other murky deals he was known to have been involved with? What about the gasboy cards? How did Joey Ebanks get appointed to the ERA after his behaviour at the Turtle Farm? What about Juliana’s use of hotels on the Brac or the blatantly illegal paving fiasco? What about the break in at the GT police station? Why haven’t they investigated the husband of a prominent civil servant who is connected with CIFA, FIFA and the health authority? The list goes on and on and on and on and those are just some of the widely known ones.

    Perhaps what they meant to say was “the local authorities needed to show international regulators that they were acting against offenders that aren’t politically connected or eligible to vote and who are willing to plead guilty and save them some work”.

    • Anonymous says:

      They not foreign!

    • Anonymous says:

      4.39pm Man you seem upset that one of yours was caught and punished.Looks like some only want to see it handed out to Caymanians and other Caribbean people.When a Canadian refused to come back for his trial he was congratulated by some of you.Shame on you.Careful though , Karma has a habit of sneaking up on people, your day will come.

  4. Sharkey says:

    I wonder why the Premier has not come out and made a statement about this issue that is destroying the financial services of the Cayman Islands. .

  5. Sharkey says:

    I think that because of been a white collar criminal and crime he committed says it all why he got such a small sentence .
    Then how the Judge thinks that he was overcharged , that could say that the other charges has now been dropped without saying that they are dropped.

    By the sounds of everyone’s comments , that everyone would be watching the judges from here on and there should be a protest on the next bad verdict.

    I think that these kind of small sentences just encourage these sorts of crimes in the financial services industry of the Cayman Islands, and it should be stopped.

    We have to remember that Cayman Islands biggest industries are tourism and banking , and this crime was committed against the banking industry .

    • Michel says:

      And deportation Please A.s.a.p. Send the right message that no matter who you are. You will get same treatment. And i am of the opinion that he was laundering money by using it to buy things with it. Invest with ill gain funds.

      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed. Nobody should be treated any different regardless. So all being equal, where do you intend to deport those Caymanians convicted?

  6. Anonymous says:

    The ONLY reason that CPS goes for Money Laundering tacks ons is to try to score points with OECD/IMF etc on Anti Money Laundering blacklists.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It most definitely was money laundering. The three main characteristics were evident, which are placement,layering and integration. Everyone who ever attended an anti- money laundering seminar would know that. XXXX

    • Anonymous says:

      You’ve completely missed the point.

      But I’m sure you know more from your seminar than this Judge who is an expert on money laundering and was quoting Judges who sit in the Privy Council.

    • Anonymous says:

      The stolen proceeds were already in the system legitimately. Therefore there was no placement, layering and integration needed. Aspinall moved the funds to accounts he owned/controlled which was the crime.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I disagree, not to charged as done would undermine the whole purpose of the legislation. The law is there, apply it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps, if you don’t have the time to accumulate the 40 odd years of legal experience the Judge has before commenting, you could at least read his ruling.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the Learned Gentleman should have explored with the same depth the fitness of this criminal and admitted thief’s right to remain on islands after his sentence and gave a point of view on his fitness to contribute positively to our community. When even the current President of the worlds most powerful country can comment on the unfitness of a potential future president to hold office. Surely this judge could have considered an admitted fraudster and thief’s fitness to continue living amounts us … when it is obvious both he and his family have means and home elsewhere to return to.

    What this thief perpetrated was a complicated and very sophisticated crime which truly can question the reputation of our entire financial services industry. Compared to Canover’s “little” on the side business – that was a joke to what this criminal organized, implemented and benefited from. Likewise perhaps the courts should have used the comments to also bring into light any other potential instances this thief might have also repeated what has occurred but due to the nature of the business he carried out this crime in, it can almost be impossible to expose.

    Honestly, the level of systemic discrimination in this country is getting to a breaking point, I can almost venture to speculate that this thief got some good advice from his investigator/legal advisors and sundry “mates” how to play this game on the pitch …. for someone reading the coverage on this crime it is almost as if he was rewarded and celebrated for “manning up” taking responsibility and “stepping down” how “rah rah – good man” rather than being punished and reprimanded for the criminal fraudster and low life thieving piece of rubbish he really is ….

    • Just Sayin' says:

      Canover stole from you.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can continue crucifying this white color thieve and worry about Cayman’ reputation, but hide your heads in a sand when it comes to Unspeakable.

      Here are the facts: from 2009 to 2014, there were 251 cases of child abuse in six categories, with sexual abuse the most frequent – 98 cases. … XXXXXX Experts … said abuse cases are grossly under-reported. There is even a documentary, “Unspeakable: Confronting Child Sexual Abuse in the Cayman Islands”.
      WHAT DOES THIS DO to the reputation of the Cayman Islands as a global financial centre?
      A Global financial centre? How about a country with the highest rate of sexual abuse of children per capita in a civilized world. But wait, can it be called civilized?
      What does this country do to protect its own children?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Bar tender/cashier stealing money from a til = damage to reputation of Cayman’s Financial industry is zero

    Accountant stealing money from investment fund – damage to reputation of Cayman’s Financial industry is huge!

    Just like crimes against tourist are receiving harsher sentencing guidelines, same should apply for crimes within the financial industry.

    We have people who have to defend the Cayman Islands and its Financial Sector on a regular basis, so this case isn’t helping and many in the financial industry will pay the consequence for the every increasing and stringent measures put in place to avoid repeat of such deceptions.

    After he is done serving his reduced sentence, please ship him off the Island asap. Cayman has nothing to gain by having such individuals reside in this jurisdiction.

  11. HotRodder says:

    So…If someone gets caught with a kilo of “weed” and some rizzla paper does that mean they are only charged with consumption vs trafficking because they show intent to consume and not distribute, based on the presence of the rizzla (or perhaps a fully constructed “spliff”)? Not sure I follow the logic here, If it is being spent then charges such as fraud are irrelevant? Isn’t the act of purchasing anything with ill gotten gains considered acquisition by fraud?

    I’m no lawyer but seems like a really grey area here and splitting hairs to lower a sentence. Assuming that the excluded eight charges would not have added to the sentence. I see no such painstaking attention to detail in other cases in recent memory, which only leaves room for speculation.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a lawyer and the DPP have been overloading indictments for a while now. This is because they have been criticised for ineffective prosecutions. Each charge has different elements so the more they add, the better their chances of getting something to stick and giving the public the blood they want. It is a trend that needs reversing and this is the start.

      • Anonymous says:

        In other words ‘shotgun’ tactics. Hurl as much as you can at them and hope some of it hits. I remember they did this with Lyndon Martin back in 2008. His original charge list was 13 offences but that was whittled down to two at the trial.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re looking at it the wrong way. Following your example, if someone was caught with a kilo of weed they would less likely be charged with consumption if they were to be charged with distribution. It’s more logical for the courts to press on with a greater / overarching case than have to prove multiple.

      • HotRodder says:

        I get that point…I was thinking in terms of “or” not “and”, meaning if they could get the lesser charge of consumption by “proving” intent to consume and not distribute even though the quantity would ordinarily constitute trafficking quantities.

  12. Anonymous says:

    1/3 of Bernie Madoff’s sentence was for money laundering in addition to what he received for fraud…if Mr. Aspinall didn’t money launder I suppose his banks and realtors couldn’t have assisted I money laundering…just didn’t happen.

  13. Anonymous says:

    CNS – I believe your headline is misleading. Spending illicitly obtained funds is money laundering under our Proceeds of Crime legislation. The issue is whether or not it is appropriate to be charged with that offence in addition to other “more direct” offences in particular circumstances.

    If I run over a pedestrian on the sidewalk, and face serious charges, one that I should not face is “parking on a double yellow line” just because that is how my vehicle ends up. That does not mean that parking on a double yellow line is lawful.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I can only imagine the smiles everyday on Aspinall’s face as he serves out his lenient sentence at HMS North Ward Prison knowing very well he has proven without a shadow of doubt that crime does pay in the Cayman Islands especially ‘White Collar’ crime. SHAME!!!!!! SHAME!!!! SHAME!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      How has it paid? He is in jail and paying back the money and lost the ability to work in his profession? Not sure I follow you. I do not see any pay.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The judges comments make sense to me.

  16. Sharkey says:

    CNS I Aplaud you for allowing people to pass their personal opinion on such criminals on the Island that is destroying the Islands trust in the financial services industry.

    I think that if a news media don’t allow people to voice their respective opinion on matters like this , they are covering up and encouraging it .

  17. Patricia Bryan says:

    And whatever happened to obtaining property by deception? To be honest after reading the article the judges finding does make sense to some degree but seriously they are other charges as the one I mentioned above that could have been lead also which were not covered in the previous charges like theft. What a mess our legal system has come down to!

    • Anonymous says:

      Overloading the indictment is not something laypersons truly understand. If the existing charges cover the theft you wouldn’t include obtaining property by deception. There are some offenses where this would be more appropriate and remember each offense carries the burden of having to prove different elements and it’s not as cut and dry as that.

  18. Sharkey says:

    I think that it’s very funny that his lawyer can now see that his client was over charged after his client was sentenced. Again how do they know that the money that he used and bought house and car with , was stolen money, and not his own personal money ?

  19. Lenne says:

    Wow, you can hear some absolute dog poop in Cayman!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Lol, you couldn’t make this stuff up!

    Callously ruin the futures of our local marijuana-smoking 17 year olds – but make sure you approach our million dollar thieving white collar immigrants with great care and kid gloves.

    Even the criminal justice system now discriminates against Caymanians.

    Keep it up man, keep it up.

    *Cayman would make a great case study into a modern descent from rare tranquil Caribbean society to typical western metropolis…complete with “expected norms”.

    I guess they’ll soon be branding our ever disenfranchised youths as “super predators” (look it up) and senselessly riotous troublemakers.

    However, some of us possess the wisdom, insight and perspective to understand what is truly happening.

    – Whodatis

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh do enlighten us oh great one with your pearls of wisdom. Its boring with no storm to worry about. Shopping and cleaning toilets also completed so as a last line of entertainment, you are on….

    • Datisme says:

      When ganja smoker steals $5 from the register and uses it to buy his next spiff, he too, by your warped logic, is also a money launderer and should be charged as such.

    • MM says:

      What is truly happening is that lack of proper parenting and attention to books whilst in school is seriously affecting our youth. Unfortunately many of Cayman’s young people do not have adequate care and attention. Many are left at home after school hours until parents arrive home from work (and some parents who work shifts leave shortly before the child arrives home and does not return until their late shift work is over).

      Children do not just magically become responsible adults and citizens of a country, it takes love, patience, frequent lecturing and the guiding hands (plural for a reason) of matured, responsible, capable, loving, nurturing, patient, experienced and educated adults.

      It is no secret that a vast majority of our Caymanian youth not only lack proper parenting, but also lack an actual ADULT parent. With teen pregnancy rampantly increasing as officials and the older Caymanian population turn a blind eye to it (the same way they did in the late 90’s and early 21st century years when obvious evidence of gang violence had began to emerge).

      In that same way, the usual Caymanian blame and deny mentality; gang violence and ill-equipped parents have contributed to a widening of unprepared and unstable youth that are now making it very difficult to enjoy living in “paradise”.

      I would say that if a survey of the incarcerate males who have been locked away for murder, drugs, rape, etc was to be done we would learn that they grew up without fathers, did not pay attention in school and had mothers under the age of 22 years and chances are their life emerged from one of the lesser favorable communities within Cayman. (maybe the Gov should consider this survey after all)

      Then these ill-raised youth begin spawning children while they are still children and their children get a double-dose of the lack-of-parenting (or proper parenting) that their young mother/father was raised on.

      It is a horrendous domino effect that is quite a global issue – however, for a country of just 60,000 people, it is absolutely ridiculous.

      Simple solutions may include:

      1. Proper sex education in all High Schools (including graphic pictures of STD cases)
      2. Equipping the school nurses with condoms, pills and birth control shots
      3. Educating parents on how to discuss sex openly and honestly with their teens (THIS is a serious problem in Cayman as parents are still very restricted about open convos on this subject because of our cultural taboos). If the parent refuses to foster an open, honest relationship with their child that will encourage open communication on the topic of sex, believe me your child will find someone else to talk to about it and they will shortly come home with a round belly, missing period or maintenance notice from Court!
      4. Government should insist that teachers make referrals of students who display behaviors common in children who are not being properly cared for (from the very first year of preschool!).

      I am aware of some children displaying very abusive and frightening behavior from preschool days (some even being expelled from preschool) because of violent acts against peers or teachers! This behavior goes forward in to primary and High School and finally Northward!

      “Train up a child in the way he/she should go, and when he/she is older those ways will not depart him/her”

      Simple words that are not so simple to action.

      If you are jobless or making less than minimum wage, live in a disadvantaged neighborhood, are on Government assistance, have less than High School Honors level education, never had a real job, have multiple partners all whilst unprotected, do not own or rent property in your name, do not own a bank account and actually have money in it, still believes that Tupac is alive somewhere or deliver your current child to school while playing the latest sex anthem; you should be seriously considering birth control, abstinence or permanent removal of reproductive organs. Simple.

      • Anonymous says:

        Preach on brother / sister.
        But as you do, please bear in mind that statistics prove that you could very well be describing the current state of affairs in the “mother country”.

        Just sayin…

      • Anonymous says:

        Wow, MM, your detailed windup measures up To nothing more than a generalization of the entire Caymanian population, which is so far off. But hey, you got to say your piece, albeit absolutely useless.

    • SSM345 says:

      Its called working with the Courts. Sing and they help you.

      Getting caught with weed nowadays (and for years) has been treated as a minor offense with a fine and no recorded conviction if you follow the options they provide (i.e. Drug Court), if you don’t, you get a record. That’s the individuals choice, no one else’s.

      If you commit more serious crimes, then sing and your sentenced is reduced, pay back what you steal and your sentence is reduced, don’t waste the courts time and guess what, your sentenced if reduced.

      Sit there like others more recently claiming innocence when you know damn well that your guilty will get you what you deserve, a lot of time.

      Great conspiracy theory Whodatis yet again.

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: “Its called working with the Courts. Sing and they help you.”
        Really now?

        Hmmm, considering that Asspinall was the sole player in this financial crime of international proportions, who exactly is he “singing” against?

        The concessions you mention should be limited to conspiracy or multi-player crimes and never apply in these instances because it only serves as an incentive to the “have a go” crowd.

        Alternatively, we should allow Northward prison to further degrade into a mosh pit to serve as a deterrent lest we find out selves in the cushy UK prisoner reality where Xbox’s and McDonalds are a regular comfort for the prison population.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wisdom, insight and perspective of someone with their head firmly up their own backside!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think whom your referring to by local Marijuana-Smoking 17 year olds, are the home-invasions, armed robbers with guns and machetes that also rob local merchants trying to make end meet? And gang-banging murderers, and of children in some cases, and aggravated battery and robbing of tourists? Yes, of course, what unfair prejudice of the courts!! Time to revolt!

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanian Privilege

    • Anonymous says:

      Wasnt a Caymanian just be sentenced to 6 months for stabbing and paralysing someone?

      yep must be discrimination

    • Anonymous says:

      What is the point of still having colonies if one cannot enjoy the benefits of the old ways of life?

    • Anonymous says:

      Addendum: As rightly highlighted by others already, let us not forget the harm such offences by our highly positioned financial industry workers inflict on our reputation.

      Simply adds to the absurdity of it all.

      – Who

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