Tax evasion cases surges in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago has seen a 79% surge in tax evasion cases last year, according to country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) recently submitted 2019 report.

In that report Trinidad’s FIU says it has received 134 reports of tax evasion valued at TTD$697 million and 286 reports of money laundering valued at TTD$329 million. Overall tax evasion and money laundering accounted for over TTD one billion in suspicious reports or transactions in T&T in 2019.

The FIU recorded some1, 019 suspicious transactions valued at TTD$1.7 billion for 2019. These latest figures were first reported by local news outlet, Daily Express.

The FIU is reporting that 30% of the persons identified as tax evaders were non-nationals from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The FIU received reports of tax evasion in 2019 amounted to TTD$595m more than 2018.

Tax eva­sion in T&T has reached the ex­tent of be­ing among the top five cat­e­gories of sus­pect­ed crim­i­nal con­duct lead­ing to mon­ey laun­der­ing.

Tax eva­sion in­di­ca­tors not­ed by FIU included the co-min­gling of funds: putting busi­ness process­es in­to per­son­al ac­counts, large de­posits of cash put in­to per­son­al ac­counts with un­ver­i­fi­able ex­pla­na­tions and re­port­ing en­ti­ties may not get clear ex­pla­na­tions for the source of funds.

This is in addition to de­pos­i­tors may use night safe mech­a­nisms for cheque/cash de­posits, busi­ness funds repa­tri­at­ed abroad with no rea­son­able ex­pla­na­tion of why the mon­ey is go­ing that way and struc­tured de­posits to beat the re­port­ing thresh­old fund lim­its: us­ing nu­mer­ous/re­peat­ed de­posits that get past that thresh­old.

The FIU is a specialised, intelligence-gathering unit within the Ministry of Finance. The 2019 report, which was submitted to Finance Minister, Colm Imbert covers the period October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019.

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