Saturday, September 25, 2021

Lack of political will frustrates Botswana’s fight against money laundering

Botswana government is dragging its feet in making the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) operational, compromising the country’s fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Financial Intelligence Agency is an institution constituted by the Financial Intelligence Act of 2009. It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning that shall be the central agency for requesting, receiving, analyzing and disseminating information on financial disclosures relating to suspicious transactions. The agency’s responsibility is to combat financial crimes, in particular money launderingand the financing of terrorism .

The US State Department country report for Botswana has revealed that the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group cited Botswana as not being in full compliance with Financial Action Task Force standards, in part because of the minister’s failure to issue regulations that would allow the FIA to become fully operational.

The minister of finance and development planning appoints the director of the FIA, but the organization was not fully staffed or operational by year’s end.

The report further states that “there are no formal financial disclosure laws; however, in 2009, a presidential directive required all cabinet ministers to declare their interests, assets, and liabilities to the president. Critics contended that this policy did not go far enough to promote transparency and that financial declarations by senior government officials should be available to the public.”

The Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of policies, both at national and international levels, to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The Task Force is therefore a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.

The FATF monitors members’ progress in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally. In performing these activities, the FATF collaborates with other international bodies involved in combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

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