Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Matambo downplays illicit financial flows reports

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo, says Botswana should not make a big deal out of the Global Financial Integrity Report titled “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing countries 2003-2012” which estimated losses in excess of US$ 856 million by Botswana through illicit financial flows. 

Whilst the authors of the survey, Dev Kar and Joseph Spangers, say the findings underscore the urgency with which policymakers should address illicit financial flows, Matambo says “these estimates are only very approximate, not covering certain classes of transactions and not taking account of other reasons for such discrepancies. This makes it difficult to determine the veracity of the estimate in the Global Financial Integrity Report.”

When pressed further by Selebi Phikwe West Member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse, whether the situation has improved, Matambo stated that “it is not easy to say if the situation has improved or not, because it is practically impossible to acquire complete information about illicit financial flows, precisely because of their illicit nature. This means, that those responsible for illicit flows take deliberate and systematic steps to hide what they are doing”.

With regards to steps taken in terms of legislation, rules and regulations to curb this practise, Matambo said “Botswana collaborates with other countries through its membership of Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and other organisations such as the Financial Action Task Force.”

When asked if this was not government’s immediate concern to investigate the extent of illicit outflows in Botswana, the finance minister stated that “In the case of Botswana, the situation is not as bad as you might have read in the internet about other countries. Our situation is much better than other countries.”

“In Botswana, there is little motivation for illicit financial outflows because of the absence of exchange control restrictions and low tax regime,” concluded Matambo. 

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