Financial tricksters who have been using Botswana as a playing field might find their escapades coming to an end with government plans to come up with a financial intelligence legislation finally having passed the drawing boards.
A bill seeking to establish a Financial Intelligence Agency and National Coordinating Committee of Financial Intelligence published in the Government Gazette is expected to be tabled before parliament soon. During the presentation of the budget speech in February, Baledzi Gaolathe, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning said that the Bill will be presented in the June/July parliament sitting.
The envisaged act that will establish the two bodies, to be called Financial Intelligence Act 2008, will provide for the reporting of suspicious financial transactions, according to the Government Gazette.
Lately, Botswana has been the victim of fraudsters who have skipped the country with millions of Pulas while some investors wire laundered money to start businesses in the country.
The two bodies will protect Batswana who have in the past fallen victim at the hands of fraudsters and also help the war against terrorism.
The draft act says that the Financial Intelligence Agency shall be a central unit responsible for requesting, receiving, analysing and disseminating to investigatory authority disclosures of financial information. The information will be, amongst others, the one concerning suspicious transactions and concerning the financing of terrorism. The agency will then forward financial intelligence reports to an investigatory authority.
“In furtherance of the functions of the agency, the Director may consult with and seek guidance from law enforcement officers, government agencies and such other persons as the agency considers desirable,” noted the Government Gazette.
In a bid to protect the integrity of the agency, it is said under the envisaged law that no person shall be appointed a Director or officer of the agency unless a security screening investigation has been completed. The director or the officer might at any time determined by the minister be subjected to a security screening investigation.
On the other hand, the National Coordinating Committee on Financial Intelligence will promote coordination among the agency, investigatory authorities, and supervisory authorities to improve the effectiveness of policies to combat financial offences.
It shall also formulate policies to protect the international reputation of Botswana with regard to financial offences.
The committee shall have members consisting of the director, representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, DCEC, Botswana Police, AG Chambers, Central Bank, BURS. Other members shall be from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Department of Immigration, Non Bank Financial Institution Regulatory Authority, DPP, DISS, Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security.
The role of the committee shall be to make recommendations to the minister for legislative, administrative, and policy reforms in respect to financial offences.
According to the gazette, a person who transacts business with a specified party using false identification documents commits an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or P10, 000 fine or both. The gazette added that a specified party that contravenes a provision of this section shall be liable to a fine not exceeding P250, 000. The latest developments follows on the heels of the establishment of a Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS), which has lately come under scrutiny for duplicate roles from other established intelligence gathering bodies.