Wednesday, December 11, 2019 | 10:40 AM

Countering Financial Crime

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Financial crime, such as money laundering, is a serious problem globally and allowing it to carry on unchecked is a major cause of financial instability. It is, therefore, important for all countries to be vigilant and take necessary steps to counter such crime. This is true even for countries where financial crime is currently not perceived to be a major problem, as it can be easy for the perpetrators of such crimes to switch to more vulnerable jurisdictions. It is also particularly important in countries, such a Botswana, which host providers of international financial services.

As part of the country's effort to support anti-money laundering (AML) activiites, Botswana is a member of the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), the objective of which is to develop the regional response for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. This is through implementing the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) established at the G-7 summit in 1989. ESAAMLG, which has a secretariat in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was founded in 1999 and has fourteen member countries as well as various accredited observers (both other jurisdictions and organisations).

Legislation in Botswana aimed at combating financial improprieties includes:

In addition, the Financial Intelligence Agency Act, 2009, provides a comprehensive legal framework to support AML with the establishment of a new Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA). The agency, which is in the process of being established, will coordinate, including through cooperation with relevant bodies both within and outside Botswana, activities relating to the collection and investigation of financial information. (This was previously the task of the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime.) The legislation also prescribes punishments for failure to report suspicious transactions.

As well as the FIA, a National Financial Intelligence Committee is to be established. The Committee will assess the effectiveness of measures to combat financial crime and make recommendations for legislative and policy reforms with a view protecting the reputation of Botswana.

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