Categorized | National News

DPM Tables Travellers Currency BILL

Debate on the Travellers currency declaration amendment bill began yesterday.

The  legislation widens the scope of things that must be declared as well as how they should be declared upon exiting and entering the Bahamas.

Apart from declaring in excess of $10,000, if passed, the bill  – would call for the declaration of precious stones, gems and bullions.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of finance, Peter Turnquest explained that all such declarations will be recorded and reported to the financial intelligence unit (FIU).

“Customs can seize in whole or in part the non declared or falsely declared currency valuable negotiable instruments, precious metals or precious stones if they have reasonable ground for suspecting that it is or that they are, the proceeds of an offense or that they are terrorist-related or if it represents an instrument that was used in the committing of such any offense,” Turnquest said.

Assets seized cannot be held for more than 72 hours after seizure, unless a magistrate orders otherwise which will allow for them to hold on to it for an additional 3 months.

“After 3 months,  if the investigation is still not completed,  then further application is necessary and in any event the assets cannot be held for more than 2 years,” Turnquest said.

The bill also proposes to impose a fine for failure to produce any baggage for examination and that fine would not exceed $10,000.

Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin expressed a number of concerns about the bill,  such as  if it would the retroactive, the procedural working, policies and regulations for detention and also  training for customs workers.

” Otherwise  we’re going to have serious problems where you have officers having some sort of exceptions and then it becomes something else. I’m wondering if we can learn what grounds  are  being prepared for Customs officers to engage in and I would like to know what the industry is saying about it and what is happening elsewhere.

“ We would like to know what you mean by precious natural stone.  Does it include pearl necklaces and why is everything going to the FIU?  Are we now creating an environment where all of our business is going to agencies that have no jurisdiction? ” Hanna- Martin asked.

The Deputy Prime Minister assured that customs officers are trained professionals and will be further trained to be sensative to the items included in the bill.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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