We’re Linked To Panama Pa­pers

Govt agen­cies will in­ves­ti­gate whether laws have been bro­ken

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - JY­OTI PRATIBHA

Fi­jians have been named in re­cent leaked Panama Pa­pers of 2016 and Off­shore Leaks of 2013. It has prompted the Fiji Rev­enue and Cus­toms Au­thor­ity (FRCA) and the Financial In­tel­li­gence Unit (FIU) to in­ves­ti­gate whether laws had been bro­ken. The Panama Pa­pers are 11.5 mil­lion leaked doc­u­ments that de­tail financial and at­tor­ney–client in­for­ma­tion for more than 214,488 off­shore en­ti­ties. Among world lead­ers linked to the pa­pers in­clude Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter John Cameron and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. The Off­shore Leaks 2013 re­vealed a large part of the world’s wealth was tied up in se­cret off­shore in­sti­tu­tions.

FRCA act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Vis­vanath Das yes­ter­day said: “FRCA was pro­fil­ing the com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als named and are work­ing on it. Beyond that, we will not be in a po­si­tion to comment.” FIU di­rec­tor Razim Buksh said: “FIU will now an­a­lyse this in­for­ma­tion and will pro­file it against FIU data­base. “FIU will work with our part­ner agen­cies such as FRCA and Re­serve Bank of Fiji and if need be later link with our in­ter­na­tional part­ners to link this in­for­ma­tion. FIU will share re­sults of our anal­y­sis with FRCA.” One of the in­di­vid­u­als named in the Panama Pa­pers is Orisi Vuki­na­vanua. Mr Vuki­na­vanua has been listed as a share­holder in To­tal Con­fi­dence Hold­ings Lim­ited, a com­pany based in Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands. It also has an of­fice in Hong Kong. Mr Vuki­na­vanua said yes­ter­day he ceased be­ing a share­holder in Oc­to­ber 2014.

“It was an oil re­fin­ery project in Fiji but I had dif­fer­ences with other share­hold­ers Den­nis Lim and got out of it,” Mr Vuki­na­vanua said. Lo­cal re­sort Hide­away Re­sort, Korolevu,

has been named in an ear­lier in­ves­ti­ga­tion - the Off­shore Leaks. This has come as a sur­prise for its own­ers - the Fiji Teach­ers Union Co-op­er­a­tive and Thrift Lim­ited. Gen­eral Man­ager Chan­dar Dutt said since FTU took over the re­sort, all trans­ac­tions had been doc­u­mented and all taxes had been and “are still be­ing paid.” Three lo­cal addresses have also been re­vealed in the Panama Pa­pers. In­ves­ti­ga­tions will also be un­der­taken on which com­pa­nies are op­er­at­ing out of these addresses.

How­ever, Fiji has very strin­gent anti-money laun­der­ing laws in place and while some of the com­pa­nies named in the leaks were dereg­is­tered years ago, FIU is still man­dated by law to in­ves­ti­gate whether any money was taken out of Fiji with­out proper au­tho­ri­sa­tion.

The Law: Part Six of the new Com­pa­nies Act deals with regis­tra­tion and op­er­a­tions of for­eign com­pa­nies. A for­eign com­pany means a com­pany in­cor­po­rated out­side Fiji that es­tab­lishes a place of busi­ness in Fiji or a for­eign in­cor­po­rated body but do­ing busi­ness in Fiji.

Fiji has strict li­cens­ing re­quire­ments for es­tab­lish­ment and op­er­a­tion of bank­ing busi­ness in Fiji un­der the Bank­ing Act.

At this stage, it is highly un­likely that Fiji has been a hub for shell com­pa­nies, how­ever, a point to note is that the com­pa­nies named in these leaks were reg­is­tered off­shore decades ago. Our cur­rent laws are so tight that any at­tempts to laun­der money out of Fiji will be very eas­ily found out by FIU. Fiji is not a tax haven mean­ing that full financial dis­clo­sures are needed. Coun­tries that are tax havens in the Pa­cific Is­lands are: Cook Is­lands, Mar­shall Is­lands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa and Van­u­atu.

What does this leak mean for Fiji?

FIU is man­dated by law to in­ves­ti­gate any in­for­ma­tion that may sug­gest our Ex­change Con­trol Act was breached.

FIU is in­ves­ti­gat­ing any pos­si­bil­i­ties that Fi­jians or Fi­jian com­pa­nies were in­volved in con­vert­ing black money (cash ob­tained through il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties) to white money (cash from le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties).

FIU is in­ves­ti­gat­ing any pos­si­bil­i­ties that Fi­jians or Fi­jian com­pa­nies were in­volved in con­vert­ing black money (cash ob­tained through il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties) to white money (cash from le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties).

Fiji Financial In­tel­li­gence Unit di­rec­tor Razim Buksh

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