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Bermudian found guilty in $1.7m money laundering trial

A Bermudian man was yesterday convicted of money laundering in St Vincent in a case involving a record $1.7 million in dirty cash.

Winston Robinson, from Sandys, was arrested four years ago on the Caribbean island after police found him and the money aboard the

Jo-Tobin yacht.

According to The Searchlight newspaper in St Vincent, the cash bust was the largest in the history of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

Robinson, who was 69 when he last appeared in the Serious Offences Court in January, was alleged by the prosecution to have sailed the yacht from Bermuda to St Vincent and the Grenadines with another man, Kent Andrews.

The skipper’s trial began in August, when he denied money laundering and claimed he earned the cash, which was in US currency and stashed in 88 packets, working in the hotel and fishing industry here.

Yesterday, a magistrate in Kingstown found Robinson and

Jo-Tobin owner Antonio (Que Pasa) Gellizeau, from St Vincent, guilty on two charges of money laundering and remanded both in custody pending sentencing.

Mr Andrews, of Trinidad, was found not guilty.

During the trial, prosecutors said Robinson and Mr Andrews sailed the yacht from Bermuda to Bequia in the Grenadines, where Gellizeau was on board another of his vessels, the


Police detained the

Jo-Tobin on April 5, 2008, searched the vessel, and found the money concealed close to the water tanks.

Robinson and Mr Andrews were charged with concealing the cash on the yacht while knowing or suspecting it represented another person’s proceeds of criminal conduct. Gellizeau faced similar charges.

According to The Searchlight, Robinson told the trial the $1.7 million was money he’d saved since the 1980s from working in hotels and fishing in Bermuda.

He said back in 2008 he stashed his money in plastic bags, then placed it in a metallic tank on the boat and sealed it with styrofoam.

“I did it that way because we were going sailing and people may try to hijack your boat,” he explained.

He told the court he had no investments in stock and business ventures and owned no real estate.

Robinson testified that in 2008 he flew to St Lucia via the UK to collect the

Jo-Tobin and to deliver it to Swansea, Wales, for his long-time friend Nicholas Stewart.

He said he picked up Mr Andrews before he set out from St Lucia and offered to pay him $500 per week while on board. Both of them sailed back to Bermuda, then travelled to Bequia.

It was in the waters off Bequia that police and coastguard officials raided the yacht where, according to Robinson, he had stopped to pick up another crew member named Nolly Jack.

He told the court he anchored in Bequia at about 8pm and decided he would stay on board and clear Customs and Immigration the following day.

But a party of officers from the Narcotics, Financial Intelligence and Coastguard units raided the

Jo-Tobin in the early hours of the following morning and found the cash.

Bermuda Police Service yesterday described the case, led by Detective Inspector Grant Tomkins, of the Financial Crime Unit, as “significant and complex”.

Acting Superintendent Sean Field-Lament said: “This conviction resulted from a multi-agency cross border investigation with fellow law enforcement agencies in St Vincent, Bermuda, [the] USA and the Caribbean region.

“It underscores the value of joined-up partnership working and highlights the value of shared intelligence. The Bermuda Police Service is grateful to all its partners and particular mention must be made of the role of the Bermuda Customs Department for their investigative assistance in this lengthy enquiry.

“Detective Inspector Tomkins and his team are to be commended for their perseverance and hard work.”

A confiscation hearing will be set at a later date in the St Vincent Supreme Court.

Useful website: http://searchlight.vc.

Convicted of money laundering: Winston Robinson

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Published March 10, 2012 at 7:00 am (Updated March 10, 2012 at 7:28 am)

Bermudian found guilty in $1.7m money laundering trial

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