With real estate being an attractive avenue for money laundering, realtors have been reminded to practise due diligence when liaising with clients.
Speaking at the recent National Real Estate Workshop, the Reserve Bank of Fiji’s Director Manager Financial Institutions, Caroline Pickering, noted the necessity of the Financial Transaction Report Act (2004).
“Real estate is an attractive sector for money laundering due the ability to buy property using cash,” she highlighted.
“A lot of these are criminals put cash put into the financial system through buying real estate. They buy real estate and then transfer the title to their families and associates. This is what attracts criminals to the real estate sector.
“And of course real estate investments are quite a stable, reliable option compared to other types of investment, along with the ability to renovate and improve their real estate by increasing the value of the investment.”
As per the Act, realtors were told to ensure that client identities were properly verified, with transactions monitored, records kept and suspicious transactions and cash transactions reported.
“You must know your client and if they can’t provide satisfactory evidence, you must not proceed with the transaction,” Ms Pickering added.
“When dealing with non-Fiji residents or citizens who are interested in buying property, the Act requires the implementation of a high level of scrutiny for identification and verification. Passports are mandatory fore the identification of foreign clients.”