MOCA 7th Anniversary
On August 4th, 2021, the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency celebrated its 7th Anniversary as Jamaica's elite investigative body, with primary responsibility for tackling corruption and major organised crime in Jamaica. Earlier in the year on April 1, the Agency also celebrated a milestone achievement when it became a fully independent and autonomous body.
From the Governor General
His Excellency the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Linton Allen,
ON, GCMG, CD, KSt.J
In recent years, a number of studies have examined the adverse effects of crime on the development of Caribbean societies. The studies show that increasing levels of criminality have eroded investor confidence and reduced international competitiveness with the introduction of security or other transactional costs. These reports demonstrate that not only does crime cause human suffering, but that it results in capital migration, negative perception of the national investment climate and the loss of skilled persons who migrate to more secure environments.
Since the establishment of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) to Jamaica’s organised crime and corruption reduction efforts in 2014, there have been major breakthroughs in uncovering several high-profile criminal activities in the country. MOCA’s keen sense of inquiry, impartiality in their exposure on illicit activities and unrelenting pursuit to effectively and efficiently have cases concluded, has aided in restoring a level of confidence and hope in our economy.
MOCA’s coordinated efforts to investigate Organised Crime, Economic Crime, Police Corruption and Public Sector Corruption have already been having a positive impact on the efforts to protect its citizens. Some of the prosecutions which have taken place are steps that are critical in bolstering public safety and citizen security. The rigorous efforts of MOCA to intercept illicit activities which have caused a drain on the public purse, and its unrelenting fight to help improve Jamaica’s global perception index are indicative of an institution steadily living up to its core values of Integrity, Independence, Professionalism, Empathy and Accountability.
As MOCA commemorates its 7th anniversary under the theme: “Corruption: Everybody’s Concern, Everybody’s Fight,” the nation is reminded that the fight against corruption and organised crime is a collective effort that requires the commitment and support of all Jamaicans. I commend the hard work and achievements of MOCA, which has evolved from its predecessor organisation to forge its own identity and strong crime fighting track record in a relatively short period of time.
From the Prime Minister
The Most Honourable Andrew Holness,ON, PC, MP
Congratulations to the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) on 7 years of existence. Entering the year, the Agency also achieved independent agency status. Both achievements represent a milestone for Jamaica’s elite investigative body, as well as a renewed hope for Jamaica in taming the twin beasts of crime and corruption by ushering in a new era of accountability and trust.
My Administration is committed to re-energizing the organisation to ensure transparency and accountability are strengthened. Indeed, MOCA is a culmination of the Government’s commitment to fighting organised crime and corruption, and creating a Jamaica where law and order abounds, our people thrive and our citizens do the right thing. MOCA’s continues to pursue its mission to identify, investigate and halt corruption and organised crime. Citizen responsibility is crucial as part of the democratic eco-system to re-commit ourselves to personal integrity and accountability. The tenets of transparency and accountability from our Government and public servants are crucial to build integrity across the society. Indeed, we are determined to build a society as George Eliot penned, ‘Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds.’ On the foundation of these values, together we can build a nation in which corruption and criminality are the exception rather than the rule.
This past year has forced many of our public and private institutions to adapt and to become more efficient as we grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic. The Government is committed to the gains we have made as a country in fighting organised crime and corruption. Indeed, transparency, accountability and building trust in the society are paramount. We must continue to advance the capabilities of our law enforcement agencies and national security bodies. MOCA’s milestone achievement today, is a testament to this Government’s actions, objectives and commitment to improve the society.
I salute the men and women at MOCA, and congratulate them on the exemplary discipline and dedication that has allowed them to build a sterling reputation for integrity and efficiency in carrying out their duties as Jamaica’s foremost investigative body. I implore and encourage you to continue to place country before self while being courageous and committed to exposing and removing corruption from the society.
It is with great pride that I congratulate Col Desmond Edwards and his team at the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency on its seventh anniversary and its long awaited independence. Well done.
From the Minister of National Security
The Honourable Doctor Horace Chang, CD, MP
Since its establishment in 2014, the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) has distinguished itself as Jamaica’s lead agency for anti-corruption, organised crime and cyber-defence criminal investigations. The group of young, highly skilled, competent and efficient MOCA officers have consistently demonstrated enviable professionalism in pursuing the Agency’s strategic priorities. Under the leadership of Colonel Desmond Edwards, the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) has become Jamaica’s elite, independent, mission oriented and specialised law enforcement agency. On this 7th Anniversary of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, the people of Jamaica can be confident that we have this elite agency, working behind the scenes to dismantle criminal networks, unearth corruption, and neutralise malicious cyber activities.
Over the years, several high profile multi-million dollar cases, including the biggest public sector corruption case in the nation’s history, have been investigated by MOCA, brought to prosecution, and the perpetrators convicted. This speaks to the competence and skill of MOCA officers in conducting targeted and complex surveillance, investigations and operations to successfully combat public corruption in Jamaica. Through their gathering of quality, actionable intelligence, MOCA has been able to identify and investigate violations by public officials, thereby reducing the country’s vulnerability to public corruption and its implications. Consistent with the theme for MOCA’s 7th anniversary “Corruption: Everybody’s Concern, Everybody’s Fight” I invite all Jamaicans to play their role in eradicating corruption from our society by speaking up, and speaking out, against corruption.
Jamaica, like the rest of the world, has increased our reliance on technology in order to facilitate national development, economic recovery and growth, infrastructural integrity, and to ensure the resilience of key industries and sectors such as public health, education, finance, and national security. Jamaica’s cyber-strategy and our ability to respond to malicious cyber activities and cyber threats are among MOCA’s core functions and competencies. Their work has been critical to neutralizing these threats, and ensuring that Jamaica has a robust cyber-defence system to protect our critical assets, vital institutions and infrastructure, while securing the personal data of our citizens.
Transnational organised criminal activity continues to be a matter of grave concern with direct, deadly impacts for the people of Jamaica. The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency has been doing remarkable work in identifying, dismantling and disrupting these threats, through the leveraging of law enforcement relationships locally, regionally and internationally.
The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency is strategic in its approach; its operations are multi-faceted, targeted, and highly impactful. Given its record of excellence, it is without question that the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency is Jamaica’s best weapon to effectively combat public corruption, cyber related offences and emerging threats.
From the Leader of the Opposition
Mark Golding, MP
I wish to congratulate the Major Organised Crime & Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) on its milestone achievement of seven years in operation.
Organised crime and corruption are major threats to the security and well-being of our nation. For decades we have been plagued by an ever-worsening culture of violence and criminality, which is stifling our political, social and economic development. MOCA’s theme of "Corruption: Everybody's Concern, Everybody's Fight” is therefore timely and on point.
The high levels of corruption at all levels of our society undermine our institutions and weaken the rule of law. I have committed myself to giving full support to the challenging but critical task of ridding our society of this cancer, and I reaffirm that commitment today. MOCA must play a leading role in this struggle, as it has the responsibility, in keeping with its mission, to “identify, and target major organised criminal networks and public sector corruption in order to improve security and governance in Jamaica.”
Happily, MOCA has a clear mandate, having been conceived, established and tasked with its mission during the last PNP administration, and it is now supported by legislation. It is with a sense of relief that I see that mission as having been allowed to continue over its seven years of existence.
I am also encouraged by the fact that, by all accounts, over its first seven years MOCA has been unbiased in its approach to crime fighting and anti-corruption. No one should be above the law, and I urge MOCA at all times to abide by that principle, without fear or favour. This will require continuous adherence to their core values of Integrity, Independence, Professionalism, Empathy and Accountability.
MOCA has made a good start at achieving its vision of becoming “an internationally recognised, leading law enforcement agency focused on eliminating major organised crime and corruption in Jamaica”. It is not an exaggeration to say that the quality of Jamaica’s future will be significantly impacted by the successful execution of this vision.
Happy Anniversary! Continue fighting the good fight.
From the Director General
Colonel Desmond Edwards, JP, MSc, MA, nsp
The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency’s achievement of independent agency status on April 1st this year, represented a major milestone accomplishment for the organisation. Long in coming, it was the culmination of a process that started seven years ago, when we were created through the amalgamation of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force and the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force in August, 2014. At the time, the entity was formed to provide a direct response to issues of major organised crime and corruption in the public sector and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). Over the years, however, our roles and responsibilities expanded as Jamaica’s own national security threats evolved, and today, we are heavily involved in addressing burgeoning issues such as cyber crime, transnational organised crime and financial crimes, while paying close attention to other criminal acts looming on the horizon.
In the face of these existing and emerging threats, our newly independent status is timely and has positioned us to be more agile, more autonomous and more flexible in mounting appropriate responses. Among the benefits of independence are greater autonomy in conducting our business, greater budgeting and funding control, a wider range of recruiting and staffing options, and a more effective realignment of our organisational structure. Quite importantly too, independence will allow us to build on our own unique organisational culture and identity, influenced by our core values of professionalism, integrity, independence, accountability and empathy.
As we embrace independence, however, we will continue to enhance and build on our strong reputation of conducting highly effective, intelligence-led investigations and operations, robust case building and highly successful prosecutions. Given the inevitable transnational dimensions of major organised criminal enterprises, we will continue to engage and work with our international stakeholders particularly in the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada, as well as our local law enforcement partners such as the JCF, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and other local agencies. While we look to foster and develop these partnerships, we are always looking to pursue and develop new ones, particularly with regional states.
As we look to strengthen our ability to tackle organised crime and corruption, however, perhaps no partnership is more important than the one with you, the citizens of Jamaica. MOCA’s success depends heavily on the support we receive from the public and so we urge you to continue to share information on organized crime and corruption. In turn, we will continue our pledge to fulfill our mandated tasks and will pursue them without fear or favour, remaining clearly focused on our mantra that “No one is above the law!”
From the Financial Investigations Division
As a member of Jamaica’s law enforcement framework, the Financial Investigations Division (FID) is enthused that the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) has achieved the milestone of its seventh anniversary. Not only that, but it has been seven years of consistent upward trajectory with respect to delivering on its mandate in service to the Jamaican people.
The significant strides made over this relatively brief period are impressive and laudable. Achieving the status of designation as an independent agency is monumental.
MOCA has discharged its duties impartially without fear or favour. From investigations and prosecutions of high-profile criminal targets to public sector officials, the organisation has created a reputation for being a committed, effective and trusted law enforcement agency.
The Financial Investigations Division (FID) is proud to have partnered with MOCA on a number of marquee cases. It would be remiss of me to not mention the high level of professionalism, dedication and integrity on display over the course of those matters, some of which are still before the Courts.
In reflecting on the selected theme in observance of this anniversary, one can easily recognize that it is most appropriate - "Corruption: Everybody's Concern, Everybody's Fight."
All Jamaicans, and other stakeholders in our nation, should be concerned about corruption and organised crime. The citizenry and business communities alike should recognise the importance of their contribution to ridding our land of this scourge.
Corruption erodes trust in the public sector (officials) to act in the country’s best interest. It wastes taxes and funds which have been earmarked for important local or national projects – meaning the public has to endure poor quality services or infrastructure.
It decreases the productivity of investments by reducing the quality of resources. For example, by undermining the quality and quantity of health and education services, corruption decreases a country’s human capital; the knock-on effects are frighteningly disturbing.
Globally, it has been well-researched and documented that corruption is consistently correlated with lower growth rates, GDP per capita, economic equality, as well as lower levels of human development.
Violent and Financial crimes committed by organised crime groups cost Jamaica billions of dollars annually. Our most vulnerable feel the worst of the effects in both the short and long terms; but the impacts of organised crime go beyond the monetary effects.
Among the effects felt from the operations of organised criminal groups are:
Acts of violence or intimidation in our communities
Corruption in political systems and government
Diminished quality of life
Compromised personal security
Disruption of family life
Violence, intimidation and corruption are pillars of many organised criminal groups. They affect public confidence in society’s most fundamental sources of solace and security – our homes and communities. It breaches basic human rights to peace, order and good governance.
Having recognised the deleterious effects of corruption and organised crime within the country, increasingly there are strategic moves being made by various law enforcement agencies and relevant ministries to strengthen cooperation and collaboration.
For example, the FID has developed and/or renewed a number of Memoranda of Understanding with other law enforcement and anti-corruption institutions. We are continuing along a path of consistently sharpening our investigative skills and leveraging greater use of technology.
At the FID we envision the continuation of our partnership with MOCA to tackle corruption vigorously and remove the profit from crime. It is our sincere hope for MOCA to grow from strength to strength.
From Crime Stop Jamaica
To be authentically Jamaican, we aim to be the best at what we do, especially on the international stage. The black, green and gold dazzle in all its glory in the realm of sports, tourism, music and entertainment, to name a few. In these industries, among others, it gives us great pride to achieve top tier recognition on a global scale. With our innate innovative style and flair, Jamaica, through our people, tend to make its mark in whatever we do and wherever we go. Unfortunately, it’s not all top-ranking positions we ought to be proud of. With an index score of 44 on the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) – where 0 is considered “very corrupt”; and an overall rank of 69 – Jamaica holds the crippling title of being the 5th most corrupt state in the Caribbean (Jamaica Gleaner article, dated January 29, 2021). This is, quite frankly, an alarming and rather embarrassing characteristic to attain.
It can be argued that corruption is so embedded in our culture that is has become synonymous to “a man a eat a food”. The simplicity and acceptance of this phrase has opened the gates of our vulnerability to be corruptible and our tolerance to the practice. Our communication, service and overall functioning have evolved to include these untoward activities that it poses the question, can we divorce ourselves from these stifling barriers to achieve a fairer society that upholds integrity? The simple answer is, yes, we can.
However, to achieve this possible yet challenging feat, it will take a collective effort from each citizen. There is a call for each citizen to apply the same pride emanated in other activities (sports, arts, music, etc.) to the integrity of our country. Crime, including corruption, has become that stifling plume that blankets our communities, businesses, public entities, churches, and schools, resulting in a slow and rather painful disintegration of safety, security and ultimately, right to life. Yet, hope is not lost. To be a patriot, one must exemplify love and support for his or her country. This love and support must not be conditional; therefore, we must exude this same patriotism to the fight against crime and corruption.
We must rid ourselves of the assumption that nothing will be done against corruption depending on the actors involved. We must embrace the fact that no one is above reproach. Liberating ourselves from these assumptions will mark the first step toward achieving high integrity within our society. The next step is to remind ourselves that an independent agency – the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) – is established and has been in existence for 7 years to combat this, among other threats to our national security. Having been established in 2014, MOCA’s objective is to “identify, detect and dismantle Tier 1 threats to national security which involve transnational organised crime, economic crime, gangs and domestic organised crime, criminal facilitators, compromised political systems, corrupt parliamentarians and public officials, judicial system delays and failure, police corruption and political tribalism”. Armed with this design, the Agency has been tremendously successful in investigating several cases of economic crimes including corruption within the public sector.
MOCA has made significant strides in its fight to uphold integrity within our country and further support is needed from the wider population to fully disintegrate the plume of corruption that hangs above us. As their seventh Anniversary theme states, ‘Corruption: Everybody’s Concern, Everybody’s Fight’, each Jamaican holds the key to eradicating this issue. There is power in numbers; there is strength in solidarity. Therefore, if each citizen accepts his or her role in the fight against crime (including corruption) and stand in unity to eradicate these societal monsters, the results will be exceptional! It is each of our concern! It is each of our fight! It is each of our business! Let us play our part to achieve Vision 2030’s goal of Jamaica as a safe place to live, work, raise families and do business.
From Integrity Commission
Organised crime and corruption are preeminent threats to any country. Together, they constitute a clear and present danger to good governance, national security and sustainable economic growth.
It has been conclusively shown that the tentacles of organised crime and corruption, if allowed to expand or to roam unimpeded, will infiltrate major state institutions, ultimately undermining and weakening their effectiveness, and threatening the very existence and legitimacy of the state itself. But there are many other reasons why corruption should be a major concern for every citizen.
Corruption allows unscrupulous public officials to raid the public purse, diverting scarce tax-payer funds away from critical societal needs, such as building schools, hospitals, roads and houses, and providing water and electricity for rural communities.This, among other things, leads to low literacy levels, a poorly educated workforce, inadequate healthcare, expensive medicines, a lack of affordable access to housing, and citizens who are forced to live in sub-standard or demeaning conditions.
Corruption also awards Government contracts and licenses to supporters of politicians, or to those who are willing to pay kickbacks. Corruption drives away foreign investors, thus blocking national economic development. In turn, this stifles business activity, reduces job opportunities, entrenches poverty and creates a brain drain.
Corruption steals political elections. Unchecked, it has the capacity to adulterate critical national institutions, including even the Government, the Legislature, the Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Customs. In turn, democracy is undermined, national security is compromised, justice is for sale, indiscipline and anarchy are seeded, crime mushrooms, and organized crime proliferates.
It is also important to recognize that corruption assumes many forms. Corruption can manifest itself as bribery, nepotism, cronyism, fraud, embezzlement, conflicts of interest, nefarious links between politicians and criminal elements, and influence peddling. The abuse of one’s public office for political gain, or to shape public policy or laws in favour of special interests, or to pervert the course of justice, is also corruption in one of its most reprehensible forms. It takes strong and independent institutions, with leaders of integrity, who have an unshakable commitment to serve only the public interest, to confront, tackle and overcome the twin scourges of organized crime and corruption.
The Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), under the leadership of its Director General, Colonel Desmond T. Edwards, stands among a short list of lead law enforcement institutions in Jamaica that is vested with this critical responsibility.
Today, as MOCA celebrates its 7th anniversary, under the theme: “Corruption: Everybody’s Concern, Everybody’s Fight,” the Chairman, Commissioners, Directors and Officers of the Integrity Commission wish to salute you. The Integrity Commission is proud to be your partner in the battle against corruption in Jamaica. We share your core values of integrity, independence, professionalism and accountability, and we are sworn to ensure the highest standards of good governance, integrity, probity and compliance in the Jamaica Public Sector.
Above all, we are committed to partnering with you to significantly reduce the incidence of corruption in Jamaica, and to make it a costly venture for those public officials who may misguidedly choose the path of serving their own interests, rather than that of the Jamaican citizenry. We pledge our support for your work and we look forward to the continued strengthening of our strategic and operational relationships, as we pursue the discharge of our respective but complementary functions under the law.
From the National Integrity Action
National Integrity Action (NIA) joins all well thinking Jamaicans in congratulating the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) on its 7th anniversary and at the same time its achievement of becoming an independent agency. We in NIA have been privileged in being associated with MOCA and in contributing practically to strengthening the organisation. This was achieved through a partnership which facilitated several capacity building engagements for the staff – as well as staff of other partner agencies. A total of 23 workshops were executed, with some 154 persons benefitting, the majority of whom were MOCA staff. The partnership also facilitated the development and dissemination of a series of media advertisements that served to raise public awareness of MOCA’s role in Jamaica’s crime fighting architecture.
We are particularly pleased that this anniversary is being commemorated under the theme “Corruption: Everybody’s Concern, Everybody’s Fight”. The truth is that every single year Jamaicans are being robbed of an estimated 95 billion dollars – money that could go to bettering the lives of us all. These stolen funds could improve the pay of our frontline public servants, particularly police and health workers, provide more computers for students and teachers, equip our hospitals and clinics to better serve the public, especially during this COVID pandemic. Corruption should therefore be everybody’s concern and everybody’s fight. Surveys do show that a good start has been made, not least of all by the work of NIA and other anti-corruption champions. Six (6) out of every ten (10) Jamaicans indicate that they are willing to get involved in the fight against corruption. This provides a firm foundation for MOCA, as well as NIA and other anti-corruption bodies to expand that willingness to every Jamaican and to convert this desire into practical activity in the combat and prevention of corruption.
In pursuing that objective, NIA encourages the MOCA to bring high value criminal targets to justice. These “big fish” continue to pursue their corrupt activity in large measure with impunity. MOCA has breached that impunity in its first seven (7) years, playing an instrumental role in bringing before the courts former Education Minister Ruel Reid, in arresting and charging high level officials at Petrojam and in bringing to justice the culprits in the Manchester Municipal Corporation matter, the biggest public sector corruption conviction to date. The public is clearly appreciative of MOCA’s work, as surveys indicate that the MOCA is the anti-corruption agency with whose performance they are most satisfied.
We in NIA also urge the completion, Parliamentary approval and implementation of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (Investigation and Prosecution Procedures) Regulations, as committed to in this year’s Throne Speech. Passage of these regulations will no doubt enhance MOCA’s capacity to fulfil its mandate. NIA once again commits to building on its past collaboration with MOCA as it embarks on heightening its combat of corruption and organised crime, henceforth as an independent agency as of April 1, 2021. NIA believes that a fully empowered and resourced MOCA – working in concert with other agencies under formal MOU’s, such as the Integrity Commission, Financial Investigations Division and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions – will play a critical role in meeting the demands of the people of Jamaica for more effective outcomes in the fight against organised crime and corruption.