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(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.