Diaspora forced to justify sums in excess of EUR 1,000 wired back to Romania. What the Finance Minister says

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Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici has stated that the bill according to which Romanians living abroad would have to justify the sums in excess of EUR 1,000 that they wire back to Romania is part of the transposition of a European directive, but that Romania should not be in a hurry to transpose it.

The statement comes against the backdrop in which the website of the National Office for the Prevention and Combating of Money Laundering (ONPCSB) features, since January 31, a bill that would force Romanians who live abroad to justify with documents the sums in excess of EUR 1,000 that they wire back to Romania, failure to do so resulting in the confiscation of the money and fines of up to RON 150,000.

“Firstly, the National Office for the Prevention and Combating of Money Laundering (ONPCSB) does not belong to the Finance Ministry, it’s an Office subordinated to the Government and a structure whose membership consists of many representatives, including one from the Finance Ministry. Secondly, I’m very careful when it comes to these bills, because I don’t believe Romania is the last country that hasn’t transposed this European directive and I believe we should think twice before we transpose a legislative act. Nobody says that one should not transpose it, but we must see whether all the other EU member states have transposed the said European provision. Those that didn’t, why didn’t they. There are European states that prefer not to transpose – for a certain reason – the revenues in their own economy, even at the risk of ending up at the European Court of Justice. I’m not the fan of transposition just because someone demands it on us. Of course, eventually it’s transposed, an assumed delay is made. Thirdly, I don’t believe Romanians who send money back home have to do with acts of terrorism. Honestly, I don’t believe it. There are people who work abroad to support their families back home, their children, relatives, and they send as much as they can back home to cover the daily needs that they have,” Teodorovici stated on Sunday in a phone interview with Antena3.

Asked whether the state levies taxes on the money that Romanians living abroad send back home, the Finance Minister said: “There are fiscal provisions that refer to the declaration of incomes made abroad. You know very well that the former Tax Authority forms had these provisions. It’s something the people already know, but with these new provisions that I understand are in the works now, I’ve told you we must take a closer look and we shouldn’t be the first in the class when it comes to this. Things that are being imposed at European level, we had that unfortunately unjustified and baseless practice. We always wanted to be the first at European level when we transposed a legislative act and we often harmed ourselves.”

Eugen Teodorovici added that he is yet to discuss with the representatives of the Finance Ministry and of the National Office for the Prevention and Combating of Money Laundering, but that he will do so next week and will analyse the bill posted on the ONPCSB website.

“Starting next week, I too will look at this bill, because we need to know exactly whether we’re the last in Europe to transpose this European directive, if not then why, how many did not transpose it and for what reasons, and whether this is the right time for us to do this. Is it good for my economy? If not, we’ll keep talking. As a Finance Minister and a Romanian, because I mustn’t put hurdles before money that come to Romania from outside Romania. Firstly, I must allow the said money to enter Romania because they are very useful. That’s how I’m thinking, from this economic standpoint,” Teodorovici added.

The bill tabled by the ONPCSB stipulates the following, under Chapter III – Reporting obligations, Section 2 – The reporting of transactions that do not show signs of suspicion, Article 7(5): “For the activity of remittance, the reporting entities transmit to the Office reports regarding the transfer of funds whose minimum limit represents the RON-denominated equivalent of EUR 1,000.”

“Art.7(7): The Report regarding the transactions listed under paragraphs (1), (3) and (5) is transmitted to the Office within 3 working days since the moment the transaction took place, and the Report listed under paragraph (6) is transmitted to the Office within 3 working days since the moment the statement is filed in line with Regulation (EC) no.1,889/2005 of the European Parliament and Council, dated 26 October 2005, on the control of European Union cash inflows or outflows, according to a methodology approved by order of the President of the Office,” the bill reads.

Under Chapter IV – Measures to know the clientele –, Art.10(2) reads: “The report-lodging entities stipulated under Art.5(1) (foundations, associations, federations, including any other non-profit private legal persons) are obligated to know the identity of the entities from which they receive funds exceeding the RON-denominated equivalent of EUR 1,000.”

The bill also stipulates sanctions for failure to respect the reporting provisions, namely fines ranging from RON 25,000 to RON 150,000.

“Chapter X – Responsibilities and sanctions, Art.43 – (1) Infringement upon the provisions of the present law draws civil, disciplinary, misdemeanour, administrative or criminal liability, as the case may be. (2) For natural persons, the contraventions listed under paragraph (1), sections a), d) and f) will result in a warning or a fine ranging from RON 25,000 to RON 150,000.”

Likewise, also stipulated is a period of three working days at most from the moment the natural persons made the transaction, period in which they must report the information to the National Office for the Prevention and Combating of Money Laundering.