THE government is looking at introducing legislation similar to the UK’s Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
UWO is a court order that compels a person to reveal their sources of unexplained wealth. Those who fail to account for their wealth will have their assets seized by the authorities.
The order was incorporated in January as part of the UK’s Criminal Finances Act 2017.
“The attorney-general is studying this legislation, which will allow the government to seize extraordinary and unexplained assets owned by prominent individuals, especially politicians,” said Lim during a question-and-answer session at a special briefing on Budget 2019 in Penang last night.
“As I have said, during this period, when we are trying to resolve our financial difficulties, we need some sort of revenue.”
He was taking questions on the government’s plan under Budget 2019 to impose a 5% real property gains tax (RPGT) on Malaysians selling properties.
Lim said nobody is happy when the government imposes taxes, and no one would say they are happy when taxes are not imposed.
“Previously, someone suggested we impose an inheritance tax. There is no inheritance tax or capital gains tax. If there is a capital gains tax, the burden would be heavier.”
He said before the tabling of the budget last Friday, he was asked why the government was mulling an inheritance tax, following speculation on the matter reported in the media.
“I was asked how could we impose the tax when the one who stole money was Jho Low and the whole lot. ‘We are the victims. Why should we pay some more? You should get money from them.’
“Rest assured, we are going to get the money from them,” he said, referring to wanted Penang-born businessman Low Taek Jho, believed to be the mastermind of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal that has cost Malaysia billions.
On RPGT, Lim said many have a misunderstanding that the tax would be based on the selling price of a property.
In actuality, he said, the 5% tax will only be on the profit made from the sale.
On a lawyer saying many property owners do not keep receipts or records of renovations and other works done to increase the value of their units, he said the government will work out a formula to address the issue and be fair to property owners.
the malaysian insight