Lebanon Businessnews News

Draft law restricts cross-border cash movement
Non-disclosure could
lead to prosecution
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Cash entering or exiting the country will soon be subject to Customs control. The Administration and Justice Parliamentary Committee endorsed a draft law authorizing Customs offices to inspect and report the transfer of currency in and out of the country. The draft was not referred to the Parliament’s final vote because the required number of committee members haven’t met yet.

The bill states that all persons transporting cash exceeding $20,000 are required to submit a written declaration to the Customs authorities at all border points (airports, ports, land borders). Persons who make false declarations, or who do not disclose cash amounts exceeding the permitted ceiling will be penalized.

Carriers of undisclosed amounts between $20,000 and $30,000 will be subject to a penalty of between $250 and $500, said MP Robert Ghanem, Head of the Parliamentary Committee for Administration and Justice.

Travelers who do not disclose or fail to declare amounts between $30,000 and $50,000 are subject to a penalty of up to five percent of the transported amount. Suspicious cases will be reported to the Special Investigation Commission for combating money laundering and terrorism financing (SIC), which is also entitled to review all declarations, said Ghanem.

Travelers with more than $50,000 of undisclosed or misreported cash could face prosecution. “They will be referred to the SIC which could file a suspicious case report, confiscate the money, or take legal action,” Ghanem said.

Cross-border cash transfer refers to any physical inbound or outbound transportation of currency and bearer negotiable instruments (BNIs), such as commercial or financial notes. This includes transportation by a person in that person's luggage or vehicle, as well as shipment in cargo containers, or via mail. Customs offices will be authorized to search travelers, luggage, and vehicles to verify submitted declarations or disclosures.

According to Ghanem, the law aims to control cash flow: “It will help prevent money-laundering, drug money trafficking, and terrorism financing.” The Central Bank’s estimates suggest that around $500 million in cash cross the borders each month, said Ghanem. “The adoption of this law would ease the concerns of the international community, which is pressuring local authorities over money-laundering allegations,” he said.
Reported by Hanadi Chami
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Date Posted: Jul 17, 2013