Trinidad senator advises citizens: Keep your receipts to explain wealth

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Trinidad senator advises citizens: Keep your receipts to explain wealth
Sen­a­tor An­tho­ny Vieira
Sen­a­tor An­tho­ny Vieira

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Peo­ple will have to start keep­ing their re­ceipts and a pa­per trail of their pos­ses­sions— like jew­ellery— once the Ex­plain Your Wealth Bill gets go­ing, In­de­pen­dent Sen­a­tor An­tho­ny Vieira has rec­om­mend­ed.

Vieira made the sug­ges­tion dur­ing Mon­day’s Sen­ate de­bate of the Ex­plain Your Wealth Bill.

He al­so rec­om­mend­ed com­pen­sa­tion should be paid to peo­ple when their prop­er­ty rights are in­trud­ed up­on. Vieira said this should be done as part of any case in court since peo­ple would have gone through the agony of hav­ing to prove their wealth’s source.

Dis­agree­ing with UNC Sen­a­tor Wade Mark, he said the bill will in­deed cov­er “jack­et and tie” types and “St Clair ma­raud­ers.” He said leg­is­la­tion like the bill arose in the UK when Russ­ian oli­garchs be­gan buy­ing up UK prop­er­ties.

“We have a sim­i­lar prob­lem here. We’re see­ing peo­ple with prop­er­ties and dri­ving fan­cy cars and there’s a dis­con­nect be­tween what they earn and what they have,” Vieira said.

“This bill op­er­ates on three gears- ex­plain, freeze and seize,” he said.

He ac­knowl­edged there would be con­cerns that such a po­tent bill could threat­en “or­di­nary peo­ple” and po­lit­i­cal dis­senters. He said peo­ple need to know it won’t be used op­pres­sive­ly to get at oth­ers, against po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties or to in­tim­i­date or ha­rass politi­cians.

How­ev­er, Vieira felt there was suf­fi­cient in­de­pen­dent play­ers in­volved in the process to guard against this: from Pres­i­dent and Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er to Cus­toms and Ex­cise Comp­trol­ler, Board of In­land Rev­enue chair­man and the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions.

Not­ing wealth around the world from “Har­ry Pot­ter” books au­thor JK Rowl­ing to the Kar­dashi­ans, he said where there was wealth, there would be cause for con­cern on “dirty mon­ey.”

Vieira said the bill will make T&T a hos­tile place for mon­ey laun­der­ing—but it could al­so cause a de­crease of funds flow­ing here.

How­ev­er, he not­ed seized prop­er­ties could be ac­quired by the State and char­i­ties may ben­e­fit and it could help Gov­ern­ment track T&T mon­ey in places like Pana­ma.

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