MUSLIMS who have no bank accounts can exchange their old $100 banknotes at the Central Bank before they become void at year-end, Finance Minister Colm Imbert told the Senate on Tuesday.
He was replying to an urgent question from Opposition Senator Wade Mark, who asked what arrangements were being made for this community in view of a $10,000 limit placed on such exchanges by private banks.
Imbert said he had no plan to extend the December 31 deadline for legality of current bills.
He said private banks will change only up to $10,000 in old banknotes at a one go.
“Persons who are banked, and who have more than $10,000 per transaction, simply go to the Central Bank, (which) would change the money for them.
“They would simply have to fill out the normal form, produce a form of identification, produce a proof of address, like a utility bill, and fill out a source-of-funds form.
“So if someone walks in with $2 million in cash, they would have to go through the normal know-your-customer procedures at the Central Bank.
"So the Central Bank is the area where persons of the Muslim faith can go to if they have large amounts of cash that they wish to redeem.”
Imbert did not consider a time extension.
“The notice is actually from December 9-December 31. That is a little more than 14 days (the new notification period in the new bill).
“So that’s the deadline at this point in time. The plan is to stick to that deadline."
He added, "But the Government has given itself the flexibility in the legislation to extend the date of cancellation, if necessary, but at this point in time the plan is to stick to the deadline.”
He said an amendment (clause 27A) to the Central Bank Act provides for the redemption of banknotes.
“The banks have know-your-customer arrangements in place. They have had this for years, as a result of the enactment of the Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2009.” That act was twice amended as Financial Action Task Force and anti money-laundering provisions began to kick in, he said, adding that cash and wire transactions were also monitored by the Global Forum.
“So there have been arrangements in the banks for years with respect to transactions.
“Prior to Monday, a ‘large transaction’ was $90,000 or more. It is now $50,000 or more.
“For casinos, you have a special regime. Prior to Monday, a large transaction in a casino was $18,000 or more. It is now $10,000 or more.”
Imbert said for the “unbanked” who have never banked before, private banks have set a limit of $10,000 per transaction on the existing $100 notes to be changed for polymer notes. Individuals with more than $10,000 in old notes can exchange them at the Central Bank.