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TISL makes three recommendations for implementation of new Finance Act

Transparency International Sri Lanka

Transparency International Sri Lanka(TISL) has made three recommendations to the implementation of the new Finance Act passed on 7th September 2021 that aims to grant tax amnesty for individuals who voluntarily disclose their undisclosed income and assets.

Meantime TISL has expressed concerns that the amnesty scheme could be abused for the purpose of money laundering unless regulatory authorities take extra measures to counter such attempts.

TISL has made the following three recommendations to be followed in the implementation of the Finance Act:

1.The effective application of AML/CTF preventative measures – This Act provides an opportunity to invest an amount equal to the undisclosed tax value in shares issued by a company, Treasury Bills issued by the Central Bank, credit securities issued by a company in Sri Lanka and movable or immovable property. Therefore, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and other obligated entities should ensure proper enforcement of existing AML/CTF laws and guidelines in relation to the new Act, including on issues relating to beneficial ownership and Know Your Customer requirements, questioning the origin of assets. This will ensure that those granted the tax amnesty are easily identifiable and remain under close scrutiny of authorities to ensure future compliance. Adherence to such procedures will ensure that individuals with legitimate sources of money would be able to bring it into the country without hindrance while it makes it increasingly difficult for money generated through illicit means to enter the country.

2. Domestic co-ordination and co-operation – CBSL and FIU to ensure “that all relevant domestic competent authorities be able to co-ordinate and co-operate, and exchange information, as appropriate, with a view to detecting, investigating and prosecuting any ML/TF abuse”. CBSL and FIU should raise awareness among the Banks and other financial institutions regarding the potential risk of ML through these investments. The Commissioner General of Inland revenue should strive to ensure that the confidentiality clause in the Act does not hinder such inter-agency co-operation.

3. International co-operation – Authorities to ensure effective international cooperation and empower authorities to track individuals suspected of having brought black money into the country. Income and assets from countries that do not have effective implementation of FATF recommendations need to be monitored closely.”

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