The search is on for the replacement of former Director General of the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) – Dr Abraham Sethibe. Dr Sethibe who was named the founding FIA DG in 2013 made a sudden resignation from the agency in the first quarter of this year and has since rejoined his former employer – the University of Botswana as an administrator.
Before being roped in to establish FIA some 8 years ago, Dr Sethibe served as a lecturer in the Faculty of Finance and Accounting at UB. He shocked many when he decided to quit an organisation he helped asset up at a time when there was a lot going on the money laundering legislation front. Five months since his departure the government says it is still hunting for his replacement. The appointing authority is the Office of the President and has since issued an advertisement for the vacant post with deadline having passed on 06 August.
While the deadline has passed and a few select candidates have submitted their names for consideration, the Government remains unsure when a new Director General will be appointed.
In the meantime the Deputy Director- Legal, Compliance and Administration Koongalele Chube has been appointed on acting capacity.
Amongst other things FIA is responsible for requesting, receiving, analyzing and disseminating financial information to relevant authorities with the aim of strengthening efforts of national and international intelligence, investigation and enforcement agencies in pursuing the global fight against Money Laundering/ Financing of Terrorism and related crimes.
“The number of applicants for the post of Director General, Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) cannot be disclosed. The selection process has begun, though the vetting process has not yet started. While the Ministry facilitates with the administration aspect, the appointing authority lies with the Office of the President as per FIA ACT”, said Fenny Letshwiti – spokesperson at the Finance and Economic Development ministry.
The pending appointment of the FIA DG comes at a time when Botswana is trying to improve its compliance with recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force.
The 2017 review led to Financial Action Task Force (FAFT) to grey list Botswana, placing it in the notorious list of countries that do not comply with anti-money laundering and combating of the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations. Furthermore, Botswana was flagged by the European Union Commission in March 2019 citing FAFT’s decision on the country’s lax measures in combating AML/CFT.
The grey listing forced the government to expedite laws and measures to address the technical compliance deficiencies picked up in 2017 and have been reviewed by ESAAMLG for re-ratings each year. The latest round was completed in April in the fifth enhanced follow-up report and technical compliance re-rating.
As a result of this progress, Botswana is now compliant on 7 recommendations, remaining largely compliant on 22, partially compliant on 8 and non-compliant on 2 recommendations.