Bill to prevent migrants sending money abroad advances

Those who help illegal migrants send money outside of Israel will be fined or jailed, according to bill that passes 1st Knesset reading.

August 6, 2012 19:03
1 minute read.
Eritrean migrants: Illustratory

Eritrean migrants living in Tel Aviv 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Helping illegal migrants send money outside of Israel will carry a fine or jail sentence, according to a bill that passed its first Knesset reading on Monday.

The amendment to the Law to Prevent Money Laundering follows a recent change to the law, which made it illegal for migrants to send funds abroad.

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Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin explained that the bill is only for one year, allowing the government to examine its effectiveness. In addition, he said, the government is not taking migrants’ money. They may use the funds freely in Israel or take them with them when they leave.

According to the explanatory portion of the government-proposed bill, the legislation is meant to “decrease the profitability of infiltrating Israel, and thus decreasing the incentive to do so, and to encourage infiltrators to leave Israel.”

The punishment for helping an infiltrator send funds abroad is one year in prison or a fine of at least twice the amount that was sent or was attempted to be sent out of the country.

Police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) sources report that criminal elements often take part in sending migrants’ money abroad, the bill’s explanatory portion reads Before a plenum vote on the bill, opposition MKs took offense at its connection to the Law to Prevent Money Laundering.

“You are comparing African refugees to tycoons and drug dealers,” Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said.

“Money laundering is related to crime families,” MK Robert Tibayev (Kadima) said. “This bill is about people’s personal money.”

Meanwhile, MK Miri Regev (Likud), who is outspoken on the issue of illegal migrants, praised the government for its “brave” bill that will solve a “major social problem.”

The legislation passed its first reading with 25 MKs in favor and 12 opposed.

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