26 Jan 2004

Fiji authorities get new powers to fight money laundering

4:29 pm on 26 January 2004

Authorities in Fiji are being given new powers to audit insurance companies, lawyer's trust funds and stock brokers under proposed anti-money laundering laws.

The chairman of the anti-money laundering committee, Sakiusa Rabuka, says a strict new Financial Transaction Reporting Act is being drawn up to police the abuse of financial and other institutions to launder money.

Mr Rabuka says any transactions over 6,000 US dollars, or 10,000 Fiji dollars, have to be reported.

Money lenders, real estate agents, religious bodies and charitable organisations will also be included under the new laws.

And, Mr Rabuka says people involve in money laundering will face severe punishment.

"Those who are responsible for giving false information, individuals, they are looking at 50,000 dollars in maximum fine or five years of imprisonment; for companies or corporate will have a fine of 300,000. For those entities who do not comply with requirements in audit or requirements of maintaining registeration, we have a provision of 15,000 of fine for individual and 50,000 for body corporate."

Mr Rabuka says there have already been more than 400 suspicious transactions reported to the new Financial Intelligence Unit over the last five months.