MOU to Address Money Laundering

Oct. 3, 2017, 6:03 a.m.

MOU to Address Money Laundering

Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit director, Razim Buksh with REALB acting CEO, Virisila Tuimanu at the MOU signing in Suva.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board (REALB) and Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for an effective framework to detect and investigate breaches related to money laundering and terrorist financing offenses in the country.

REALB acting CEO, Virisila Tuimanu said the need to partner with the FIU was due to some real estate activities being linked to money laundering activities.

“While the REALB is the regulatory agency for the real estate agency in Fiji, it is also necessary that REALB partners with important stakeholders such as the FIU, which is primarily responsible for anti-money laundering laws to ensure financial transaction transparency in the market,” she highlighted.

The MOU was signed by Tuimanu and FIU Director, Razim Buksh, who said it would assist them to effectively coordinate compliance and regulate real estate agents under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act.

“The real estate agents have similar responsibilities like the commercial banks and other non-bank financial institutions under the FTR Act to ensure that their services are not abused for conducting fraudulent and money laundering transactions.

“A real estate transaction can be used to disguise the illegal origin of funds by introducing the proceeds into the financial system. Once the illicit funds are invested in the real estate market, the proceeds are disguised as legitimate wealth in any subsequent property transactions.”

Buksh noted that the reporting of suspicious clients and their transactions to the FIU by all financial institutions- including the real sector- is a mandatory obligation under the FTR Act.

Other key obligations include the identification of clients, establishing the source of funds involved in property transactions and reporting transactions that include a minimum of $10,000 in cash and bank cheques.

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