Local Businesses Face 100,000 Rufiyaa Fine for Transferring Payments to Foreign Accounts

24 May 2023 | 09:28

Foreign individuals are now prohibited from directly or indirectly operating local businesses.

Additionally, amendments to the regulations governing local businesses stipulate that if payments intended for a local business are transferred to an account owned by a foreign national, it will result in favorable outcomes for the foreigners involved, and severe consequences will be enforced as a response.

Historically, retail businesses have been prohibited from being operated by individuals who are not local residents. However, a prevalent issue persists where non-local individuals manage businesses registered under the names of Maldivian locals, effectively exerting control over these enterprises.

 Moreover, these businesses are associated with bank accounts belonging to non-local individuals, facilitating the transfer of all payments received to their non-local accounts.

As per the recently gazetted rule, foreigners are prohibited from engaging in local businesses. Additionally, running a local business in a manner that directly or indirectly benefits non-locals is strictly forbidden.

Any violation of this rule will result in reporting the non-local recipient of the payment to the appropriate authorities. The registered business owner will be fined 100,000 rufiyaa, and their business registration will be invalidated, prohibiting them from starting a new business for five years.

These regulations aim to prevent non-local individuals from transferring funds earned from local businesses out of the country. Additionally, it is mandatory for those responsible for remitting money outside the Maldives to report any instances where a foreigner possesses an amount of money exceeding their declared income to the Financial Intelligence Units of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA).

According to these regulations, failure to register the business venue, obtain necessary permits, or store business goods outside the designated premises will result in fines ranging from 1,000 rufiyaa to 100,000 rufiyaa during inspections.

In compliance with the regulations, local private businesses can exclusively be registered under the names of Maldivian individuals who are at least 18 years old and do not possess registrations in other private businesses. 

Furthermore, individuals who are found to operate a business in a manner that primarily benefits a foreign entity will be ineligible for registration for a duration of five years.