Putrajaya looks at UK’s law to recover ‘unexplained wealth’

Lim Guan Eng answers questions posed by the audience during the ‘Special Briefing on Budget 2019’ in George Town November 7, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Lim Guan Eng answers questions posed by the audience during the ‘Special Briefing on Budget 2019’ in George Town November 7, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Nov 7 — The attorney general (AG) is currently studying United Kingdom’s unexplained wealth order (UWO) to look at how it can be introduced in Malaysia, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

He said the UWO will enable the government to seize “extraordinary assets” owned by individuals, especially politicians.

“We want to get the government’s money back, this is why the attorney general is studying this provision introduced in the UK,” he said during a dialogue session on Budget 2019 at Equatorial Hotel here.

Lim said the government will definitely look for ways to get back all of its money, especially the funds lost through 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The UWO is a newly introduced law in the UK under its Criminal Finances Act 2017 where a court order can be issued to compel someone to reveal their sources of wealth. It also allows the National Crime Agency to seize the assets.

Lim said there had been speculation that the government could introduce inheritance tax and capital gains tax.

“People had said it was not fair that we are taxing the people who are the victims of 1MDB instead of trying to regain the funds from those who profited from it. So, let me assure you, we will definitely find ways to get back all this money,” he said.

He said the government did not want to burden the people, which was why it did not introduce the inheritance tax and capital gains tax.

“We had to introduce the real property gains tax (RPGT) of 5 per cent because the government still needs some sort of revenue, especially with our high debts,” he said.

He explained that the 5 per cent RPGT for Malaysians for the sale of properties after five years is not based on the full property price.

“The 5 per cent is based on the profit of the sale,” he said during the question-and-answer session.

He admitted that some homeowners may not have kept documents or records of the renovations and improvements made to their properties over the years.

“We will take this into account and see how much to consider so that it will be fairer to house owners,” he said.

Lim said the whole point of organising dialogue sessions on Budget 2019 was to get feedback from the people.

“We want to improve on it based on the feedback we get, especially on questions about taxes,” he said.

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