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Woman Linked to $560K Probe

Woman Linked to $560K Probe
August 01
11:00 2017

A 53-year-old former Fijian citizen in Australia on domestic duties wired FJ$560,000 to her bank account in Fiji over time, it has been revealed.

These suspicious transactions from Australia were caught by the Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit last year.

Director Razim Buksh points this out in their 2016 annual report released recently.

The report said the woman sent large telegraphic transfers from her bank account in Australia to her Fijian bank account.

Once the substantial funds were transferred to her Fiji bank account, she withdrew $560,000 and deposited it in another account in a third bank. No other details about the woman were known.

Mr Buksh said the possible offences they highlighted in this case were money laundering and layering.

Fiji Intelligence Unit director Razim Buksh

Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit director Razim Buksh

Layering is a stage in money laundering where the money launderers may begin by moving funds electronically from one country to another. They then divide them into investments placed in advanced financial options or overseas markets; constantly moving them to elude detection; each time, exploiting loopholes or discrepancies in legislation and taking advantage of delays in judicial or Police cooperation.

The case was one of 579 suspicious financial transactions which were caught on by the unit.

After analysis and developing intelligence, the unit forwarded information on 195 cases involving more than $173 million to the relevant law enforcement authorities.

Another matter in which the unit played an important role in investigating was that of an online scam involving a university student and her mother.

Between April and May 2012, Indra Singh and her daughter Natasha Singh befriended a Steven Ham on Facebook. Indra started an online romantic relationship with Steven. After eight months of chatting, Natasha received $72,128.74 in her bank account. Two transactions were received from an Australian company. The second transaction was recalled by the bank and funds were frozen. Natasha had claimed that the funds were sent by her step-father to buy a house in Fiji. Natasha transferred funds into her mother’s account and used her mother and friends to withdraw the money and send to different people in South Africa.

Natasha was convicted of one count of possession of property suspected of being proceeds of crime and was sentenced eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years last November.

One more case which has been highlighted was that of two Asian nationals who arrived in Fiji and were issued a residence under assured income permit. They both opened bank accounts with a local commercial bank and received large FJ$100,000 each from China. Once the funds came into their Fijian bank accounts, they both attempted to send $90,000 each back to China. Once this was denied, they both withdrew $90,000 each from their accounts, the very next day, claiming that they needed to buy a vehicle and to pay for goods.

The possible offence of money laundering and violation of permit status was investigated and information provided to relevant authorities for further investigations.

In another case, a 34-year-old Chinese national was caught out sending $7million out of Fiji to a company which was registered in New Zealand and another company registered in China.

This transaction was investigated by the unit which found out that the company in New Zealand had been struck off and that nothing had been imported by the Chinese national for which he would need to pay the money.

Investigations were then forwarded to Police for trade-based money laundering, customs related offences and tax evasion.

Mr Buksh said: “As a result of FIU intelligence (actual figures and names cannot be provided as this would undermine and compromise FIU’s role as an intelligence agency):

  • Several tax evasion cases were successfully investigated by FRCS (Fiji Revenue and Customs Service);
  • Additional tax revenue in access of several million dollars were collected by FRCS;
  • Several money laundering, proceeds of crime and financial crimes were successfully investigated by the Fiji Police Force;
  • Large amounts of tainted criminal assets were identified;
  • Several Fijians and Fijian businesses were prevented from falling victims of fraud including cybercrime cases;
  • The financial system and the financial institutions in Fiji strengthened their preventative measures and compliance with the detection and reporting of suspicious transaction reports

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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