Saturday, February 24, 2024

Finance PS evades P100 billion question

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Wilfred Mandlebe has refused to be drawn into discussing the alleged Bank of Botswana (BoB) P100 Billion alleged heist. Appearing before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) Mandlebe said he could not publicly discuss matters which were still sub judice, adding that there were ongoing processes regarding the matter.“Let the law take its course. It should not be undermined and appropriate action will be taken,” Mandlebe said.

Mandlebe also warned that whoever says any statement about this country should be very careful because it creates unsubstantiated perceptions regardless of who says it. He further said that he observed there could be some people responsible for pushing negative perceptions about the country.The Finance PS told the PAC as a committee they have the right to call the Governor to come and explain the issue adding that the matter was beyond his powers as PS explain.

He said once an issue is before court, in any form, it cannot be discussed.“I’m saying that what we say regardless of where we seat in the economy, we have one country and one economy and that is what I’m simply saying.”PAC Chairman, MP Dithapelo Keorapetse, warned the PS that by his own admission, he must be careful with what he says about the country especially adding that Mandlebe is saying there are billions missing from the Central Bank while on the other side the Governor Moses Pelaelo has been quoted saying there are no missing billion from bank.

MP for Bobonong Taolo Lucas said that previously the Minister of Finance has been mum on the matter adding that he is wishy-washy about the BoB issue adding that his junior who is the BoB Governor Pelaelo is very clear that there is no such money missing.“Can you as the PS Finance also clear this issue and state your position confirming whether there is any money missing, or are you afraid to offend somebody,” said Lucas. In his submissions, Maddlebe stated in the report that Botswana as a member of the International Community considers the fight against money laundering, terrorism financing and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as top priority.

He stated that government is doing everything possible to build a robust Anti Money Laundering, Counter Financing of Terrorism and Counter Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/CPF) system to protect the financial system from being used for money laundering, the financing of terrorism and proliferation.“The listing of Botswana by the EU will have negative impact on the financial services as local banks will face difficulty in doing business with their corresponding counterparts in the EU. The listing also affects the processing of financial transactions and reduce investor confidence, which leads to loss of business opportunities,” he stated.

He further stated that the government of Botswana prioritizes AML/CFT/CPF issues not only for compliance with the Financial Action Task Force- International Cooperation Review Group requirements and the European Union listing, but more importantly, to protect the financial system from AML/CFT/CPF risks and create a safe pass for investment.

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