Businessman Anthony “Que Pasa” Gellizeau was on Monday sentenced to 10 years in jail on each of two counts of money laundering.
Justice Wesley James handed down the sentence at the High Court.
The sentences will run concurrently.
Gellizeau was, on March 9, 2012, convicted in the largest money laundering case ever in the sub-region and the state has moved to confiscate his assets, under its proceeds of crime and money laundering laws.
The confiscation phase of the charge will be done at the next assizes.
Meanwhile, Winston Robinson of Bermuda, who was also convicted of money laundering, has had his sentencing delayed, since his St. Lucian lawyer did not attend the hearing on Monday.
Robinson will be sentenced on Oct. 8
The case began on April 5, 2008, when Coast Guard officials found US$1.7 million concealed in vacuum-packed bags on board the yacht, Jo Tobin, during a search.
Kent Andrews and Robinson were on board the yacht and were charged with breaches of the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering (Prevention) Act.
The yacht was owned by Gellizeau and the court granted an order restraining him from transferring, selling, parting with or otherwise charging all realisable assets owned or controlled by him, whether in his name or not, whether solely or jointly owned or held, whether located in or outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Chief Magistrate Sonya Young found Gellizeau guilty of concealing on the yacht Jo Tobin on April 5, 2008, at Calliaqua, US$1,733,463, which in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represents proceeds of criminal conduct.
He was also found guilty of bringing the money into St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on the yacht.
The magistrate found Robinson guilty of concealing US$1,733,463 on the yacht Jo Tobin on April 5, 2008 at Calliaqua, knowing or suspecting or having reasonable grounds to suspect, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly that the money represented another person’s proceeds of criminal conduct.
He was also found guilty of bringing the money into SVG.
The magistrate, however, ruled that he was not guilty of entering the country without notifying the Comptroller of Customs of the intended time of arrival.
Trinidadian Kent Andrews, who was jointly charged in connection with the monies, was found not guilty of all charges against him.
The legal battle has seen the Court of Appeal in December 2011 dismissing a motion contesting the constitutionality of the nation’s anti-money laundering laws.
Constitutional motions dismissed
The men’s lawyers filed constitutional motions contending that the Proceeds of Crime Act and its amendments go beyond the powers (ultra vires) of the Constitution.
They claimed that the laws were an amendment to the Constitution and ought to have been enacted in accordance with Section 38, which speaks to alteration of constitutions and Supreme Court Order.
The appellants also claimed that the ex parte procedure associated with the initial stage of seizure deprived a party of the right to be heard. They further claimed that their fundamental rights and freedoms under section 1 of the Constitution were violated.
But High Court judge, Frederick Bruce-Lyle dismissed the claims, holding that they were brought, in part, pursuant to section 1(c) of the Constitution, which, as a general provision, is not justiciable.
The judge also held that the Proceeds of Crime Act did not amend the Constitution.
In their appeal, the appellants contended, among other things, that Justice Bruce-Lyle erred in holding that Section 38 of the Constitution does not apply to Acts which affect fundamental rights and freedoms.
But after hearing arguments from both sides, the Court of Appeal dismissed the case.
“In as much as the appellants seek to assail the constitutional integrity of the Proceeds of Crime Act, they undoubtedly face a difficult task.
“The constitutionality of a parliamentary enactment is presumed unless it is shown to be unconstitutional and the burden on a party seeking to prove that such an enactment is invalid is a heavy one …” the court said in its ruling.