Mayor of Montego Bay, Homer Davis, has urged realtors to ensure they are doing the necessary due diligence to prevent criminals from laundering ill-gotten gains through real estate.
Addressing members and other industry stakeholders at a symposium organised by the Realtors’ Association of Jamaica in partnership with JN Bank at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James, the Mayor said conducting due diligence is sometimes seen as a burden, but he says it’s “a necessary evil, especially in the world in which we live.”
“As they say in journalism: ‘When in doubt, check it out. If you can’t, leave it out’,” he said.
The symposium was held under the theme: Real Estate Investments 2019: A Road Map.
Montego Bay and the wider parish of St James has been grappling with the proliferation of lottery scamming for nearly two decades, which have had a deleterious impact on the tourism capital’s reputation. The problem has also seeped into neighbouring parishes in Hanover and Westmoreland.
“It is accepted that organised crime cannot succeed without facilitators and I am challenging homeowners to also conduct their own due diligence when entering into rental agreements of their property,” he added.
The Mayor reminded his audience that under the Anti-lottery Scam Act property owners can be liable for knowingly facilitating illicit activities under the law. They can receive up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted.
Mr Davis warned realtors and property owners, as he made the point that Montego Bay is the fastest growing city in the English-speaking Caribbean. He said the city represents prime real estate and has been seeing growing investment.
“I must use this opportunity to challenge Jamaicans to make the bold step towards owning a home. This could be the single largest most and far-reaching investment you can make,” he encouraged citizens.
Also addressing the symposium Carlton Earl Samuels, chief development financing officer at The Jamaica National Group, noted that St James is positioned for an increase in real estate investment.
Mr Samuels, who is also a Montego Bay, St James native himself, disclosed that JN is currently financing development projects in and around the city, which will further create further opportunities for investment in St James. “There are great opportunities for realtors and developers in St James, therefore I encourage you to invest,” he said.