Thursday, July 9, 2020

Masisi optimistic Botswana will emerge from grey listing

BY KABELO SEITSHIRO

Upon his arrival from his Qatar visit last week, where he courted business to invest in Botswana, President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi has said his administration is ready to emerge from being grey listed in France.

This after the country was grey listed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) over poor standards on anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism with a September 2019 deadline.

The grey listing by FATF has affected foreign direct investment and Botswana’s relationship with external financial regulators.

Addressing the media after his Qatar State visit, Masisi admitted that the grey listing of Botswana is a developmental challenge adding that there were gaps in the analysis that was made and found in the country’s legislation.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that that by September we are out the radar and being liberated off the threat,” said Masisi.

He stated at one of the meetings the country has been applauded for putting together about 28 pieces of legislation to address the problem. He added that when his government got aware of the problem it took immediate steps to draft, amend and reconcile.

He stated it is an ongoing effort adding that there is a committee of experts dedicated to the matter. Masisi said the country has assistance from the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).

“We are very alert to the grey listing and we don’t like it. We are convinced that we are going to get out of the woods,” said Masisi.

He further stated that it also the responsibility of the public in general to alert government on any related issues. He added that if there is anything that government is doing or not doing which may pose a threat to the financial stability it should be raised.  He said people are free to talk to Bank of Botswana and the Financial Intelligence Agency.

The Bank of Botswana (BoB) Governor Moses Pelaelo a few months back confirmed the grey listing and added that according to the report the country lacked certain aspects relating to the AML/CFT standards.

Pelaelo said all Botswana’s key financial stakeholders that deal with issues led by the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Planning have to come together and map the way forward to address strategic deficiencies.

The grey listing has affected the country’s offshore investments as well as other fund managers as well as pension funds losing and terminating custodians from a French regulated organization.

The grey listing by FATF has affected foreign direct investment and also Botswana’s relationship with external financial sectors, as some can take business decisions on the basis of such issues. Botswana investments have been negatively affected.

In October 2018, Botswana made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and ESAAMLG to strengthen the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime and address any related technical deficiencies.

Botswana is expected to work to implement its action plan to accomplish these objectives, including by assessing the risks associated with legal persons, legal arrangements, and NPOs, and developing and implementing a risk-based comprehensive national AML/CFT strategy.

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