The Director General of Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) Botswana Dr. Abraham Sethibe, has this week denied allegations that his department is embroiled in corruption scandals that are investigated and under the watchful eye of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
Several reports accused FIA and its boss Dr. Sethibe, of receiving inducements from some contractors tasked with building FIA offices. FIA Director General was also accused of favoring none performing officers who failed to deliver on their tasks which led to the country being grey listed by the Financial Action Task Force(FATF). Botswana was grey listed by the FATF over poor standards on anti- money laundering and combating financing of terrorism with a September 2019 deadline.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has told journalists that 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 early this year, 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.
When talking to WeekendPost this week, FIA Director General Abraham Sethibe denied ever protecting any of his officers. He said reporters should know that Financial Intelligence issues are very sensitive and therefore should exercise caution while dealing with them as they may negatively impact the country outside.
While commenting on allegations of corruption at his office, Sethibe said FIA is a department under the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. He said accordingly, the Ministry has centralized building projects. All building projects are handled by the Ministry Head Quarters under the division of the Corporate Services who are responsible for all process ranging from the budget, procurement of the services, monitoring of the progress in collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development.
“To the best of knowledge, this process was followed with regard to the FIA building project. I receive progress reports from FIA officer who is representing the department in the team responsible for the project. I am not, personally, in any way, involved in the project. I have never met any of the contractors involved in this project. To be honest, I do not even know and had no reasons to know any of the contractors to this project personally”, said Sethibe. He challenged that if there is somebody who disputes that to come forth with evidence.
Sethibe said that as a matter of fact, the effectiveness and efficiency of the Financial Intelligence Agency in fulfilling its core mandate is assessed on regular basis by the regional body, the Eastern and Southern African Anti- Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), and currently, the International Corporation Review Group (ICRG). He said contrary to the reports, both bodies have acknowledged the significant and positive contribution by the FIA in the development and implementation of the Anti- Money Laundering and Combating of the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation of Arms of Mass Destruction regime. He also said TATF listing is a serious matter as it affects the economy of the country.
The FIA is statutorily mandated to act as a central agency responsible for requesting, receiving, analysing and disseminating to an investigatory authority, supervisory authority or comparable body, disclosures of financial information, concerning suspicious transactions, required by or under any enactment in order to counter financial offences; or concerning the financing of any activities or transactions related to money laundering, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in order to protect the integrity and stability of the financial system at national and international level.
The Unit is also going to assist in informing policy direction by conducting research on trends of money laundering and terrorist financing and educate and inform the public about trends in money laundering and related crimes. The FIU further exchanges and shares information with its foreign counter parts and undertakes typology studies on money laundering and terrorist financing techniques.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.