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New Financial Intelligence Bill targets political leaders

Publishing Date : 11 June, 2018


The proposed Financial Intelligence Amendment Bill that is expected to reach the parliament floor in the ongoing winter parliament session has been crafted to deliberately target political leadership in the country.

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi has recently confirmed this to WeekendPost following a Directorate on Economic Crime (DCEC) occurrence on Botswana’s second review cycle of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in Gaborone. Molefhi revealed the ‘bolt from the blue’ that the entire cabinet has approved the new amendments to include political influencers (such as themselves) so as to tighten screws on the Act.

“So what has been approved by cabinet on that Wednesday is the amendment to include the politically influential persons which include senior public officers. Our Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Mathambo presented the amendments at cabinet for approval,” he told this publication briefly. 

According to the Government Gazette Extraordinary dated 15 May 2018, “the object of the Bill is to amend the Financial Intelligence Act, Cap. 09:07 in order to harmonise Botswana’s financial intelligence legislation with international standards, in particular, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations on anti-money laundering, combating the financing of an act of terrorism and the financing of proliferation of arms of war or NBC weapon.”

In particular, “clause 13 of the Bill amends the Act by inserting new sections to provide for strengthening of customer due diligence measures with respect to beneficial owners and people in prominent influential positions and to provide for the prohibition of opening of anonymous accounts.”

The proposed law defines “prominent influential person” as those who are entrusted with public functions within Botswana or by a foreign country or an international organization, his or her close associates or immediate members of the family and these includes; the President, Vice President, Cabinet Ministers, Speaker of parliament, parliamentarians, Councilors, Senior government officials, Judicial officers and diKgosi.

The proposed amendments to the Financial Intelligence Act follow Botswana’s mutual evaluation carried out by the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG). The ESAAMLG assessors recommended that the amendment of the Act was necessary to address the issues of dual reporting of suspicious transactions.

It was further stressed that it was critical and urgent that Botswana aligns her financial intelligence legislation to international standards in order to attain technical compliance and to avoid being referred to the FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) as a non cooperative State. 

Declaration of Assets also ready to take effect

Meanwhile Molefhi also confirmed that the Declaration of Assets law which President Mokgweetsi Masisi promised the nation at his inauguration has already been crafted and will take effect soon.  “The Declaration of Assets law is ready. It is coming. I have proof read it. It will then go to the President so he also looks at it and appreciates it. Then it will go to cabinet for approval and subsequent publication,” Molefhi told this publication recently.

According to the Minister in the Office of the President, the law also targets all political leaders like the Financial Intelligence amendment Bill, 2018. “All political influencers are also in. It’s all there. The law is ready. The president wants it done and it is part of his target for 100 days in office. It will be tabled in the July parliament sitting.”  Meanwhile in his inaugural speech on April 1st, Masisi declared that the law on declaration of assets will see the light of the day come rain or sunshine.   

He stated then that “My new cabinet and I, which I will soon put together will work very hard for and with you for a better Botswana. I will do my utmost to continually grow confidence in and of governance through a combination of new legislation, ethical codes and demonstrable and efficacious behaviours. To this end, expect specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities soon.”



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