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Morocco targets bank privacy law to tackle tax evasion Open in fullscreen

Mustafa Kammas

Morocco targets bank privacy law to tackle tax evasion

Critics say the law could lead to deposits being withdrawn from Morocco [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 November, 2014

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Parliament seeks more power for state agencies to investigate businesses, and also draws up regulations for Islamic banking.

Morocco is seeking to enact a new banking law that would give state agencies access to the banking information of businesses in an effort to tackle tax evasion.

Parliamentary sources have told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the second chamber of parliament has included amendments in a draft law to prevent banks from refusing data requests.

The law would allow tax, customs and social security agencies access to banking information. Currently only Morocco's central bank and the court system have such powers.

Critics have said the amendment could lead to businesses moving their accounts from Morocco, while supporters say similar measures are already in force in other countries. The government says current legislation has contributed to a huge gap in tax revenues.

Islamic banking

The law will also regulate Islamic banks, which are due to start operating in Morocco for the first time.

The amendments will ensure Islamic bank customers have proper information about products and services, and compel Islamic banks to enter an insurance fund to protect customer deposits.

The new banking law was first proposed in 2012 but its progress has been delayed due to disputes over the Islamic banking sector, which usually seeks to avoid interest charges and payments. The current draft entered parliament in February and is expected to pass this year.

The second chamber of parliament, known as the chamber of advisers, has also sought to include protections in the law that allow customers to transfer accounts between banks without penalty.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition. 

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