Anti-drug agency seeking reports on large cash deals

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require persons who make cash transactions with a value of $10,000 or more to report those deals on a form to the nation’s anti-drug agency.

Internal cash transactions would be reported the same way travelers have to submit a form if they are entering the country with $10,000 or more in cash.

The requirement is contained in bill No. 18.756 that is being studied in the Comisión Permanente Especial de Narcotráfico y Seguridad.  The express purpose of the legislation would be to regulate real estate sales, the sale of metals, the transfer of cash, casinos and lawyers, notaries and accountants, according to a legislative summary issued Friday.

Carlos Alvarado, director of the Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas, appeared before the committee to explain how the legislation would close the door to various forms of money laundering.

The proposed legislation would add a new section to a 2001 anti-drug law.  It says that anyone who makes a transaction equal to or greater than $10,000 in U.S. dollars or colons has to fill out a form designed by the appropriate authority.

Merchants who routinely make such transactions would be compelled to register with the anti-drug agency. The security ministry would continue its supervision of casinos, the bill says.

The law would require the accountant, lawyer and notary professional organizations, the colegios, to monitor transactions by their members.

Law enforcement officials say that real estate and casinos can be major sources of money laundering.

For example, drug dealers could purchase a piece of real estate for cash and then sell it later without having to explain where the initial purchase price originated.  Precious metals and gemstones could be purchased the same way.

Just about any business that deals in cash could slip drug money into the daily bank deposits.

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