Laws to be amended to probe offshore accounts

By Saman Indrajith

State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Minister Niroshan Perera told Parliament yesterday that the Financial Transactions Reporting Act No 6 of 2006 (FTRA) would be amended within this year to probe Sri Lankans who maintained offshore accounts and to take legal action against them.

Responding to a question raised by UPFA Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara the Minister said that the decision to introduce amendments had been taken at a meeting of the Advisory Board to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). A Committee had been established to review the current legislation relating to Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing and to propose necessary amendments in line with current global developments, he said.  

The committee comprises representatives of the Attorney General's Department, the Legal Draftsman Department, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Finance Ministry, the National Policies and the Economic Affairs Ministry and the Police.

 "The powers and functions of the Financial Intelligence Unit are mandated by virtue of three laws, namely, the Financial Transaction Reporting Act No. 6 of 2006, Prevention of Money Laundering and the Conversation on the Suppression of Terrorist Financing Act, No 25 of 2005," he said.  

He said that the FIU was empowered to collect information of the bank accounts maintained by Sri Lankans in foreign jurisdictions only to establish the conduct of unlawful activity. "Collection of any information from foreign jurisdiction is subject to laws and regulations applicable to such respective foreign jurisdictions," Minister Perera added.  

He said that the FIU did not have power to arbitrarily collect information or carry out a survey, in order to establish the number of Sri Lankans who had opened foreign bank accounts or their bank balances.

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