The Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) has not been transferred to the office of the President as previously reported in the local media, Permanent Secretary (PS) to the President Carter Morupisi has said.
Morupisi, who was part of the team that accompanied President Mokgweetsi Masisi at his second Press Conference held in the capital Gaborone on Monday, said that only the appointing authority of FIA director general has changed.
“FIA has not been transferred to the Presidency, it remains at Finance. The only changes that were made to the FIA Act related to the appointing authority. Previously the ACT prescribed that the director general of FIA will be appointed by the minister, but that has since been changed to give that power to the President as is the case with similar positions”, Morupisi told journalist.
According to Morupisi, the change was necessary to make FIA directorship uniform with other key senior civil service positions whose appointment is dictated by the country constitution.
While the amendments that were made to the FIA Act in mid June transferred power of appointment from the Minister of Finance to the President, Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington South, Ndaba Gaolatlhe said at the time that the right changes would have been making parliament the appointing authority.
Gaolathe also observed that a lot of oversight authority bodies are not fully independent as they are supposed to be. He added that understanding this law means people need to bring safeguards against abuse by the ruling elite.
FIA, currently led by Dr Abraham Sethibe was established in 2009 with a mandate to request, receive, and analyze suspicious financial transactions. In June 2018, Minister responsible for Finance Kenneth Matambo also brought to parliament an amendment of the Banking ACT which gave FIA more powers. As a result, the anti money laundering agency is expected to bite more as the June 2018 changes to the Banking law saw it listed amongst entities allowed to request customer information from a bank. “The proposed amendments will have the effect of enhancing confidence in Botswana’s financial system,” Matambo said at the time.