Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Botswana launches aggressive asset forfeiture regime

“Behind every great fortune there is a crime”: if the epigraph by the author of the popular 1969 novel “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo is anything to go by, by the time Botswana’s Asset Forfeiture Unit completes its work, there will be no rich families in Botswana.

 

The newly established unit is expected to mark the beginning of an aggressive asset forfeiture regime. Under civil recovery, the unit will be able to seize cash, homes, vehicles and any other belongings from anyone they suspect of crime. It is understood that under civil recovery, the unit will only have to meet the civil courts’ standard of “balance of probabilities” that someone is involved in crime to seize assets, as opposed to the criminal courts’ requirement of “beyond reasonable doubt”.

 

The newly established unit under the Directorate Public Prosecution DPP is poring over thousands of dockets  and is already on the trail of a of a number of senior civil servants and businessmen who are believed to have amassed wealth trough crime.

 

 

 

The unit is expected to seize the property of a number of people who were convicted of corruption as far back as twenty years ago. The unit has been given the powers to trace the proceeds of crime as far as twenty years back.

 

 

 

Head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, Ernest Mosate told Sunday Standard that they have already started operations, and are studying about six cases in which they will seek an order to seize the property that was proceeds of crime worth millions of Pula.

 

 

 

So far the unit has got an order to seize the property of a former police officer who was once charged by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime DCEC. Mosate revealed that the police officer invested the proceeds of corruption in buses and motor vehicles. The Sunday Standard could not establish if the police officer was ever convicted.

 

Mosate further revealed that they were also in the process of being granted an order to seize the property of one civil servant who is believed to have used the proceeds of crime to buy a farm worth P2, 5 million.

 

Parliament passed the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act in 2014 and the unit started operating last year.

 

 He said the unit was poring over thousands of dockets at the DPP which the unit intends to study to establish if there was enough evidence to go after culprits believed to have amassed wealth through crime.

 

The unit has been given powers to trace proceeds of crime as far back as 20 years ago.

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