Expat money transfers: Kuwaiti MP seeks monitoring of disproportionate remittances

BE2C2 Report — Kuwait Member  of Parliament Khalil Al-Saleh on Thursday called on authorities to impose tighter monitoring on huge money transfers by expatriates, which he said amounted to almost $70 billion (KD 21.2 billion) between 2010 and 2014.

Addressing  the Finance Ministry, the Kuwaiti lawmaker said that the size of money transfers made by expatriates every year must be monitored by authorities especially with regards to proof that the remittances are proportional to their income, especially in light of the delicate security conditions in the region.

The lawmaker also asked the Finance Minister about the size of money transfers made by expatriates in the past two years. He added that the size of the money transfers did not include transfers made through unofficial channels.

Mr. Al-Saleh asked if the ministry has any plans to impose taxes or charges on money transfers by expatriates.

Several MPs have already called for taxing expatriates’ money transfers in a bid to check the outflow of capital from Kuwait. Last week, MP Safa Al-Hashem proposed a five percent tax on expatriate money transfers.

MP Saleh said authorities must ensure that expat transfers are not connected to terrorism or money laundering especially that transfers by foreigners in Kuwait are one of the highest in the Gulf.

In his questions to the finance minister, the lawmaker asked about the department that is overseeing money transfers of expatriates in Kuwait and if there is any mechanism for monitoring such transfers. He pointed out that if there was no mechanism to oversee expat transfers, the reasons for that must be known and the ministry must introduce such a mechanism.

Saleh asked if the Finance Ministry receives periodical reports about money transfers by expatriates, especially those which have some suspicions.

The lawmaker asked if the Finance Ministry has reported cases in which the size of transfers by expats was not proportional to their income which raises suspicion. He demanded the number of such cases reported in the past five years and what measures were taken against them.

He asked if the central bank or the finance ministry have received security notifications from the interior ministry about suspicions over money transfers for expatriates and what measures were taken against them.

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