650 Suspicious Transaction Reports Analysed In 2017

FIU provides much-needed transparency and confidence that Fiji needs as a premium investment destination: Minister Kumar
21 Feb 2020 10:00
650 Suspicious Transaction Reports Analysed In 2017
Opposition Member of Parliament Simione Rasova with Minister for Education Rosy Akbar , Assistant Minister for Women Veena Bhatnagar and Opposition MP Lynda Tabuya outside Parliament on February 20,2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Fiji’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) received and analysed 650 suspicious transaction reports in 2017. This was among the 11 million or more financial transaction reports they manage in their database.

Out of these, 448 intelligence reports were referred to law enforcers.

Chairperson of the Standing Committee for Economic Affairs, Vijay Nath, yesterday moved FIU’s 2017 annual report for debate in Parliament which was agreed to unanimously.

Mr Nath highlighted some of the findings of his committee which includes the need for more support to be given to FIU and for an agreement for direct access to Interpol.

SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula said it is sad to note that Government had not supported FIU and that a notable problem is FIU’s lack of capacity.

“You can come here and talk about the importance of this (FIU). But the essential thing is to put money into it. But the problem is you don’t have any money. Sa lala jiko qo (This is empty),” Mr Nawaikula said pointing to his pockets.

Assurance of ‘competent and reputable investors’

Minister for Local Government, Housing, Industry, Trade and Tourism Premila Kumar said FIU provides much-needed transparency and confidence that Fiji needs as a premium investment destination.

“FIU works closely with my Ministry and Investment Fiji in screening foreign and local investors. This gives us assurance that only competent and reputable investors are entering our shores,” she said.

“Additionally, FIU ensures money or funds coming into our country are used for the purpose intended and is not used for criminal activities. Again, this is promoting Fiji as a credible, investment-friendly destination.”

Opposition MP Viliame Gavoka stated that FIU has the most complete database in Fiji, however they are not connected to Interpol.

“Interpol in Fiji is under the Police and if they (FIU) want anything done in a 24-hour period, they have to wait until Monday to secure the data from Interpol so the recommendation is that to make it possible that FIU has instant connection to Interpol,” Mr Gavoka said.

SODELPA MP Ro Filipe Tuisawau questioned the independence of FIU and the Unexplained Wealth Taskforce which comprises FIU, the Fiji Police Force, Fiji Revenue and Customs Service, and the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption.

“Unexplained wealth is a very interesting term in Fiji particularly when you look at the political history of this country. Coups, overthrows of governments, and if we look back at the Fiji Sun 27 October 2017, the FRCS CEO Visvanath Das stated that there are 527 millionaires in Fiji. There are 334 business owners in that number and 193 by assessment of their annual salaries,” Ro Filipe said.

“It is interesting because if you look at the political history of the nation from 2006 up to now and if you look at the individuals involved in the coup, you would be asking, are they included in this 193, and whether they are millionaires.”

Fronts risk

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said a trend seen overseas is that non-profit organisations are used as fronts to fund terrorism.

He said in order to register a non-government or charitable organisation now, Police clearance is needed, including information about the trustees, directors and company regulations.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum explained that although FIU ensures integrity within the financial system, the Reserve Bank of Fiji is the main player.

Crime prevention

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Veena Bhatnagar commended FIU for their contribution towards crime prevention and investigation and said that everyone is equal under the law.

“Whoever we are, whatever we are, whether we are businessmen or politicians, we are all under the radar and FIU is doing its work on a very transparent basis so basically this must be applauded as well for their transparency and diligent work.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

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