You created your own misfortune by not believing in yourself

Saturday morning cartoons make me feel alive.I prepared pancakes, sausages and eggs for breakfast and I watched cartoons from the 90s. 

In the evening time,I watched an episode of Johnny Bravo,where a series of unfortunate things happened to him as he lusted after yet another woman. It could have been a heat flash,but Dionne Warwick appeared in a vision to him. She warned Johnny that his failure to believe in himself and his ability to successfully pursue the woman was the cause of his perceived bad luck.

It’s amazing where you can find inspiration. In a cartoon ,a movie,a child . Just think of it as the universe’s way of speaking to you.

Believe in yourself.Believe in your dreams.Believe in your ability to execute the project. Never give up.Trust the process.

Do not let your own doubt cause you to experience bad luck.Just believe.

The author is an attorney at law based in Trinidad, she specialises in Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism. 

See the website :

What’s app only 1 868 484-7777

Instagram @asydneygrouptt


Formal Education will make you a Living; Self Education will make you a Fortune

Continued education enriches the soul. I always take time to notice my classmates whenever I undertake an additional course. These people appear to be in their forties and older and they have established careers. Within those career paths, they have selected a senior position and they pursue the course in order to have the necessary qualifications when the vacancy is advertised. That way, they are prepared for any opportunity that may arise. I recently completed a 5 day workshop and all the participants were members of amazing professions. There were 2 Marine Pilots, 2 Helicopter Pilots, 1 Civil Engineer and 1 PhD candidate. Apart from these, there were also persons from the financial sector. This was not the first workshop that they attended post graduation. They are trained annually, and are now in a position to train others. They view learning with great pleasure and actively participated in the session. Every lunch time, I sat with different classmates and asked them about their jobs. With the exception of one person, they all seemed to like it.
On one day of the workshop, we were asked to talk about the reasons why we like our jobs. One of the marine pilot stated that she liked her job, because it was exactly what she wanted do, since she was small. That is an astonishing thing for someone to accomplish. The other classmates all graduated from university, but did not stop there. They were continuing to pursue courses and one classmate was reading for her PhD. They were not working to pay bills. They were building fortunes, because they were doing what they loved and continued to sharpen their skills through continued learning. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by investing in yourself by learning more. Many people have the same degree as you do, so you must find a way to distinguish yourself from, everybody else. Additional courses may help you to specialise in a certain field or to become an expert. Continued education may come in the form of reading books, listening to audio books, doing research, watching educational videos. Trust the process and continue to enrich your soul.

The author is an attorney at law in Trinidad, she specialises in Anti Money Laundering ,Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Financial Crimes. See the website : , Instagram @asydneygroupytt Whats app 1 868 484-7778.

Sydney Group is Celebrating our First Anniversary of blogging on WordPress

What is now proven was once a thought. I always wanted to be a blogger, but I feared that I would soon run out of topics. I did not want to start the project, then abandon it when ideas were scarce. But the opposite happened, as I immersed myself in writing the universe provided me with ideas weekly. I am now able to research new topics and prepare a presentation. It takes a certain level of commitment to produce one blog post weekly. Regardless of the occurrences of the week, I try to ensure that I have content to share. If I fail one or two weeks out of the year, please forgive me. I anticipated that there would be challenges in building a readership. I celebrated when my post was viewed by one person within 5 days of my posting. One year later I got 6 likes immediately after posting and this was a huge achievement for me.
I am aware that there are full time bloggers who have dedicated their time to provide you with timely posts. I am not yet in a position to do that, so please accept my blog posts as a sneak peek into my life. I invite you to continue reading my posts as I expand my knowledge base thereby generating additional posts. I am involved in many projects at this time, but my favourite project is blogging on this forum, WordPress. It is a great way to create an archive of your life week by week. People from all around the world view my posts, and I smile with each view.
It pleases me greatly when my friends or relatives strike up a conversation with me about one of my posts. The mere fact that they took 2 minutes out of their busy schedules to read my content means a lot to me. Last year I covered a range of topics from company registration, to wills to motivational posts. I take great pride in my writing. It was a challenge at first when I received no views or likes, but I decided to keep writing. That way when I did in fact develop a readership, they could return to my previous posts. Imagine 10 years from now, I can look back at these weekly entries and smile that it was recorded. I personally write my blogs and I am giving you a taste of the world through the eyes of a young, black, and woman.
The author is an attorney at law from Trinidad. She specializes in Anti Money Laundering ,Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Financial Ctimes.
Please see the website:
Instagram @asydneygrouptt
Whats App 1 868 484-7778


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Should you quit your job and focus on your own business: Advice to Entrepreneurs

Nine things to do before quitting your job,to run your business:

1. Ensure that your business generates enough money to pay all your recurrent expenses. Before making the great leap,determine how much money you need to cover all living expenses for each month. Then look at the income already generated from your business ,and see if enough money comes in to take care of your basic needs.

2. Consider finding another job that will equip you with the tools needed to bring more value to your own business.

3.Talk to your spouse to let them know your concerns and your desire to leave your job. This will give them notice,lest they are taken by surprise when you are home all the time. It is also a good time for your spouse to admit if they are similarly thinking about leaving their job.

4.Try to prepay some of your expenses,such as internet,electricity before you quit. This will give you a little comfort knowing that bills are paid.

5. Try to buy wholesale food items and store them. When the hard times come ,you will not go hungry.

6. Clear off major debt ,please be reminded that you can lose your house or car if you fail to make your monthly installments. 

7. Be prepared for uncertainties, business is  in and of itself uncertain. Some months will be feast,and some months will be famine. 

8. Before quitting your job,view your employer as your investor ,your financier,who is paying you a salary which you will then use to finance your dreams. 

9. Follow the proper procedure in resigning,so that you leave on good terms. If the services or products that you offer are in line with those of your former employer,you may conduct business with them.

The author is a Trinidadian attorney at law. She specialises in Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism. Please see the website ,whats app 868 484-7778 ,Instagram @asydneygrouptt

The Lunch Hour: The Real Rush Hour

How do you spend your lunch hour every day? I usually take a walk outside some days to see the working class hustle to purchase lunch. They exit their office still wearing their cardigans and sweaters and are make crucial choices. They venture to either a food court or a food establishment to decide. They look at the menus and check their purses and wallets. They take out their cellphones and idly scroll through their social media feeds. They then stand in line, wait their turn and approach the cashier and or server. Their colleagues may be at the same establishment or at another. They purchase their food and of course a drink and feel excited about their taste buds coming into contact with their purchase. The food may be consumed at the eating establishment if seats are provided or the employee may return to the office. The employee makes his way to his desk or to the lunchroom, holding the styrofoam container and beverage bottle. The smart phone is placed on the table and he or she indulges in the food.
Imagine doing this with your lunch hour everyday for the next 5 years. It is true that you are entitled to your lunch hour and you may spend it as you please. But is there a way that you can invest your lunch hour in yourself? My best friend told me that he spends his lunch time looking for lunch, everyday. He told me that he had a certain personal task to complete that would lead to significant personal development, but it was difficult to do during the working day. I suggested that he make use of his lunch hour, but he told me he was busy finding lunch.
From a financial point of view, money that could have been otherwise saved or invested is spent on purchasing lunch each day. Every time that you buy lunch, you pay with a $100 bill. By the end of the week, $500 has been spent on food for lunch alone; this does not take into consideration money spent on breakfast and dinner.
In terms of time management, an hour a day is a terrible thing to waste. I am not in anyway advocating that you work during your lunch hour for your employer. What I am suggesting is that you work on your dream during your lunch hour. Guard your time, it is your life. Every second counts. If you find that you still have a lot of work to do at the end of the working day, then consider analysing everything that you do during the day.
Reasons why I dislike buying lunch:
Food is expensive;
I do not know what ingredients are being used;
I do not know who is preparing the food;
I do not want to spend my lunch time thinking about what food to
Regardless of the food that I consume, it will exit my body in the same manner and hopefully, colour.

A good approach is to put your food in the microwave while you use the facilities to relieve yourself. That should take about 3 minutes, then you return to the kitchen and eat for 15 minutes. Naturally, this means that you have to walk with your lunch from home. It does not have to be anything elaborate, it can be simple. You can steam broccoli and carrots in a pot and chunky veges for lunch. You can make a sandwich, pack a beverage and a snack or fruit for dessert. Whatever you consume at lunch time, will leave your body in the same manner. Then you can return to your desk and read about that idea that you conceptualized and research what has already been done on the topic. The question is now, how will you spend your lunch hour ?

About the author:

The author is a lawyer in Trinidad who specialises in Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism.

See the website:

Instagram : @asydneygrouptt

Whats app :868 484-7778

What does the way you walk say about you?

I have always been teased about the way I walk. I walk quickly, I pass people by on the sidewalks as though a dog I chasing me. I am oftentimes told that I would get a speeding ticket. I simply laugh at these jokes. In response, I say that I am “on a mission”. I could be on my way to class, on my way to the office or about to meet a friend, I walk with purpose.
Increasing your walking pace by 25% was one of the confidence building exercises in the Magic of Thinking Big . The author told of the games his mother played that consisted of watching passersby and observing their walking habits. His mother advised him that there was much to learn from observing the walking habits of people. The author said that psychologists link poor posture and sluggish walking to low self confidence. Psychologists also say that our attitudes can be changed by improving our posture and by increasing our speed of movement.
The author described 3 different groups of people based on their walking patterns. The first group are the “beaten people”, they “shuffle and stumble along through their life”. The second group of people are average and so is their walk, average. The last group of people exude “superconfidence” in the words of the author. These people walk faster than average, there is a sprint in the way they walk. Their walk tells the world “ I’ve got someplace important to go, something important to do”. Moreover, it tells the onlooker that the walker will succeed at anything he is about to do. The author advised that we should “throw our shoulders back, lift up our head and walk a little faster and feel confidence grow.

The author is an Attorney at Law in Trinidad and Tobago. She is an internationally Certified Specialist in Anti Money Laundering, Countering the Financing of Terrorism and FIU Compliance. See the website for her portfolio of companies. Instagram @asydneygrouptt Whats app 868 484-7778 .

The power of human….resources,always seek advice

The wise always seek counsel before making decisions. In the manufacturing process of making decisions,the successful person will conceptualize the idea,conduct research then ask about the possible difficulties of the proposed decision. The words of advice received are the raw material used by the successful person to make decisions. 

The successful person understands the power of the human mind. It is an amazing instrument that can be used to solve great problems . Other successful people take delight in offering advice. They must,however be satisfied that the advice will be put to great use . For instance,in the book the Twelve Steps, the character created by Jim Rohn made a game of pretending to be the caretaker of a large mansion and told a middle age man of the 12 pillars of success. 

Please do not keep your ideas to yourself. Seek advice from people who are where you want to be.

The author is an attorney at law based in Trinidad. She specialises in financial crimes and is a certified Anti Money Laundering Specialist .

Website :

Facebook page: Sydney Group

Instagram : @asydneygrouptt

Whats app : 484-7778

How to deal with angry customers who insult you? A message to all those employed in the service industry and hospitality industry

I am well on my way to reading one book every week  pursuant to my new year’s resolution. This week, I am exploring “The magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. In one chapter he narrates a  story of an irate guest at a hotel who sent a telegram to reserve a room for a single occupant but who came to the hotel clerk requesting  hotel room with double occupancy. The customer insulted the clerk threatening to have him fired and questioned his intelligence. The young clerk apologized but declared that he was merely following instructions.

The author was next in line to deal with the clerk but was pleasantly surprised when the clerk greeted him warmly. The author told the clerk that he admired the way that he dealt with the previous customer. The clerk stated that he refused to be infuriated by a customer like that, he empathised with the man and supposed that he was having marital problems and that the man used him as a scapegoat to feel superior. The clerk added that “…underneath he is  probably a nice guy, most folks are…”

The author then suggested that we remember this statement the next time someone “declares war on us. He said the best way to deal with situations like this is to let the other person say their piece, then forget about it”.

We have nothing to lose by following this approach. Instead of responding to their insults , especially for those of us who work in the service industry, it is wise to hold our tongue. There is nothing to gain by charging with bitter words. The other person may in fact be experiencing some trying times and may simply want attention. Although you may find that your minimum wage does not pay you enough to take insults, I am sure by the following week that you will forget the exchange of words.





Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Non Profit Organization (NPOs)

What are non profit organisations?

Non Profit Organisations are organisations that provide a public benefit such as furthering cultural, educational, religious, and professional or public service objectives.

There are three (3) main elements of a Non-Profit Organization;

  1. A mission that focuses on activities that benefit society and whose primary goal is not profit. It is to be noted that these organizations are usually profitable, once revenue exceeds expenses. But instead of re distributing profit to owners/staff/investors, the Non-Profit pursues public benefit purposes recognized and approved by the Ministry of Finance in Trinidad bad Tobago.
  2. No particular person owns shares of the company or interests in the company. The organization is not controlled by one person it is owned by the public.
  3. The income must never be distributed to any directors but is recycled back into the Non Profit’s mission. Non-profits typically depend primarily on grants and mission-related earned income to fund its socially oriented activities.


Staff in a NPO consists of volunteers and paid staff, the former usually out numbers the latter. Accounting for a Non Profit;

Non-Profits are focused on ensuring revenue is greater than costs;

Non-profits do not use balance sheets; they will compile a “statement of financial position”, which focuses only on assets and liabilities. Non Profits do not use income statements but prepare a statement of activities each quarter. This document lists the organization’s revenues minus expenses, plus net assets Exemption from taxes;

Non-profit organizations may be exempt from taxation once they are designated as charitable organizations by the Ministry of finance.

Filing of Annual Returns: Non-profits must file annual returns with MLA Opening a bank account- By-laws are extremely important to create here.

What is available on public record ?

The  Articles of Incorporation discloses certain information such as the Name of the Non Profit, number of directors and intended employees, general nature of activities, the address of the principal office, name occupations and addresses of the first directors of the company.

The Mutual Evaluation Report 2016 and NPOs

Although NPOs are required to register with the Registrar General’s Department, there is no proper AML/CFT policy in relation to the management, supervision and monitoring of these entities. There is no targeted risk assessment for these entities nor are there adequate laws to address this which results in insufficient regulation of the sector.

The Assessors in the Mutual Evaluation Report 2016 considered NPOs to be Non Compliant for the following reasons:

  • There are no laws requiring NPOs Sector to be subject to an AML/CFT regime;
  • There is a lack of proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for violations of the standards of NPOs;
  • No evidence of outreach to the NPO Sector concerning Terrorist Financing issues;
  • There have been no adequate policies articulated concerning NPOs;


The non regulation of Non-Profit Organizations is cause for concern since these organizations could be used to facilitate ML/TF activity. Since the last mutual evaluation, the Assessors found that there were no AML/CFT measures in place to deal with NPOs. To date, there are still no measures in place to address AML/CFT.


NPOs traditionally enjoy an elevated level of trust by society at large. In light of this, NPOs must take precautions to avoid potential money laundering and terrorist financing abuse of the charitable donation process.2 

Money Laundering , Terrorist Financing and  Non Profits Organizations

Non profits can be used to launder corporate money.  “The lack of transparency around NPOs provides the donors with unfettered funding opportunities while letting them hide their identities …”3

Why are Non Profit Organisations susceptible to being used by Money Launderers?

Non-profit organisations (NPOs) are defined by their purpose, their reliance on contributions from supporters and the trust placed in them by the wider community. They often process large amounts of cash and regularly transmit funds between jurisdictions. NPOs have also traditionally operated under less formal regulatory control and generally, a less rigorous form of administrative and financial management. It is argued that the combination of these factors exposes the sector to an elevated risk of criminal and terrorist abuse (Charity Commission 2009a; FATF 2004a, 2004b).4


Misuse of NPO funding to launder money

The misuse of NPO-generated funds may take any one of the following forms;

Funds may be collected in the name of a legitimate NPO but disbursed for terrorist rather than altruistic means;

NPOs may be used to launder money or provide legitimate means for the transmission of funds between multiple locations.5

NPOs may provide financial support to an organisation that provides humanitarian aid, for example, but that organisation may also provide succour to terrorist activities.

Alternatively, NPOs may raise funds for a particular cause but have those funds dispensed or support provided through a terrorist group.

Misuse of the notion of charitable status Criminal or terrorist entities may elect to establish a sham NPO (in this case, a charity) but one which is registered and engages in requisite regulatory requirements. The purpose of the NPO is ostensibly to collect and distribute charitable giving but it is in reality a front for the laundering of money, appropriation of terrorism funds or for the rallying support for terrorist activities.

Gurulé (2008) has suggested a general modus operandi for non-profit exploitation, based on sham NPOs in the United States. Such sham agencies were found to:

  • incorporate under state law;
  • apply for tax-exempt status as a charity or other type of NPO;
  • undertake fundraising activities;
  • open domestic bank accounts into which proceeds and donations are deposited; and
  • transfer funds to overseas financial institutions, diverting all or some of the funds to terrorist activity.7



FATF recommends the following best practices for non profits to prevent  abuse relating to terrorist financing and money laundering 8:

Ensure good governance practices and strong financial management , including robust internal controls and risk management procedures;

Carry out proper due diligence on individuals and organizations that give  money to, receive money from or work closely with your organization;

Enter into written agreements to outline expectations and responsibilities of grantors and grantees;

Undertake internal risk analysis to help better understand the risk you face in your operations and design appropriate risk mitigation and due diligence measures;

Establish strong financial controls and procedures and keep adequate and complete financial records of income expenses, and financial transactions;

Clearly state program goals when collecting funds and ensure funds are  applied as intended;

Ensure information about the activities carried out by grantors and grantees is publicly available;

Ensure you are informed as to the sources of your income and establish criteria to determine whether donations should be accepted or refused.

Non Profit Organisations must be closely monitored in Trinidad and Tobago and elsewhere because of the abuse of same by money launderers and terrorist financiers.

The author is a certified Anti Money Laundering Specialist and an attorney at law in Trinidad. Website http//






Are Lawyers required to comply with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in Trinidad and Tobago?

According to the CFATF Mutual Evaluation Report June 2016 “there is no evidence that the legal profession complies with AML/CFT measures in Trinidad and Tobago. This is a serious deficiency having regard for the significant role played by these professional as financial intermediaries (gatekeepers) in introducing and facilitating such a large percentage of financial transactions”.

Gatekeepers are professionals who can facilitate the entry of illicit money into the financial system . These professionals include: Accountants, Auditors, Lawyers, Notaries, Company Formation Agents.

In AML CFT terminology, lawyers fall under the umbrella term DNFB-Designated Non Financial Businesses and Professions.

The First Schedule of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) captures lawyers as listed businesses but states that the lawyer is only accountable when performing the following functions on behalf of a client:

a)Buying and selling real estate;

b)Managing of client money, securities and other assets;

c)Management of banking, savings or securities and other assets;

d)Organization of contributions for the creation, operation or management of companies;

e)Creation, operation or management of legal persons or arrangements, and buying and selling of business entities.

Lawyers are susceptible to being used as a conduit to money launderers to facilitate their nefarious purposes.1

It is therefore imperative that local attorneys understand their AML/CFT obligations and comply with the FIU to safeguard their practice and to retain their reputation.

Which lawyers are at risk?

Sole practitioners, small firms and large firms are all plagued by the risk of being used by money launderers and perpetrators of other financial crimes. A risk assessment ought to be conducted to ensure that measures are put in place that are commensurate with the risks posed by the customer.

What are attorneys required to do?

  • Register with the FIU;
  • Create a Compliance Program;
  • Appoint a Compliance Officer;
  • Submit a Fit and Proper Form for the Compliance Officer to be approved by the FIU;
  • Train staff on the Compliance Program;
  • Receive internal suspicious activity and transaction memos from staff;
  • Report Suspicious Activity in the SAR/STR to the FIU;
  • Undergo Continuous training;
  • Conduct an annual internal review of the Compliance Program;
  • Conduct annual external review of the Compliance Program.

How do money launderers use the legal and professional services  law firms and sole practitioners to launder their funds?

  • Creating corporate vehicles and complex legal entities such as trusts. These obscure the links between the proceeds of crime and the perpetrator.2
  • Buying and selling property can be used in the layering stage, or in the integration stage where the asset is purchased and retained.3
  • Performing financial transactions on behalf of a client (making deposits, issuing cheques, making and receiving wires, buying and selling stock).4
  • Providing financial and tax advice. Criminals may pose as wealthy individuals who need help sheltering wealth from tax.5

The issue of lawyers  providing advice to their client is controversial, as they have a confidential relationship with their clients.6

According to the CFATF Mutual Evaluation Report June 2016 at paragraph 260 “Financial Institutions (FIs) have indicated that they have particular concerns with doing business with real estate entities and lawyers that buy and sell real estate due to concerns that there is inadequate AML/CFT understanding and application of the requirements such as CDD”.

The Evaluators at paragraph 282 of the MER requested that there be collaboration between the FIU and the Law Association to make the legal fraternity aware the AML/CFT legislative requirements as well as their obligations to implement these requirements.

The Evaluators noted at paragraph 317 of the MER that there appears to be a gap in the registration of lawyers. The majority of lawyers opined that they did not qualify for inclusion as a listed business since their services did not fall withAre Lawyers required to comply with Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in Trinidad and Tobago? clearly identify who should be registered.


For the offence of Money Laundering, the penalty :

  • On summary conviction,  is  a fine of $10M & to imprisonment for 10 years
  • On Indictment, to a fine of $25M & to imprisonment for 15 years under POCA, S 53 (1)

For the offence of the Financing of Terrorism the penalty,

  • On conviction on indictment for  Individuals $5M & 25 years imprisonment;
  • On summary conviction Legal entities $5M & 5 years imprisonment  under Anti Terrorism Act s 22 A (3) (4) .

When must legal practitioners conduct Customer Due Diligence(CDD)?

When the services provided to the client falls under those services described in the First Schedule of the POCA. This CDD must be applied on a risk sensitive basis when lawyers  establish a “business relationship” with a client, when attorneys carry out an occasional transaction, when they suspect money laundering, when they suspect terrorist financing or when they doubt the veracity of identification documents.7

When must legal practitioners conduct Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD)?

For ongoing matters that present a higher risk of money laundering or terrorist financing, where the client has not been physically present for identification purposes or where the client is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP).8

Kevin Shepherd back in 2002 stated that “Some believe that the special relationship between lawyers and their clients gives lawyers an early inside view into crimes that could make their insights invaluable in the war on domestic and international criminal activity.”9

Lawyers as gatekeepers must start the Know Your Customer (KYC) process. “There is just no other current way of ensuring that the information an Financial Institution (FI) receives is not just a big cobweb of complexities created by a lawyer, helping the customer protect personal identification and corporate ownership information”.10

The time is coming when lawyers will be closely observed by the regulators as powerful and effective gatekeepers. Please get your affairs in order.


The author is an internationally certified Anti Money Laundering specialist and  attorney at law in Trinidad .
Please see the website : and the associated social media pages


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