Connect with us
Advertisement

The Receiver recover millions from proceeds of crime

In order to fight crime through its financial lifeblood and to create a fair and just society in which crime does not pay, the newly established Office of the Receiver under the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security (MDJS) has already recovered millions of Pula from the proceeds of crime.

The Office which was created in September last year following the introduction of the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act (PICA) which came into effect in January 2015 is responsible for preserving the value of the confiscated property or money in respect of an order made under the Act or any written law of Botswana.

Giving a presentation at the Third Ordinary Full Council Session on Tuesday at Selebi Phikwe Town Council (SPTC), the Receiver, Bafi Nlanda revealed that his office has already in a short period of time recovered millions in both cash and the value of the impounded movable and immovable assets which have been deemed by the courts to be gains or proceeds of crime.

Because the majority of criminals are motivated by money and profit, it is critical that Government pay sufficient attention to the financial aspects of crime by creating a criminal justice system that is fashioned to take away from criminals the gains they have accumulated or made from crime, the Receiver has emphasised.

PICA was passed by Parliament in August 2014 to deprive criminals of their illegally gained profits by introducing new forfeiture provisions which were lacking in the previous legislation. He noted that the Act repealed the Proceeds of Serious Crime Act which provided only for criminal forfeiture and did not resolve the issue of management of proceeds. “Nobody took responsibility for proceeds forfeited to state and proceeds still piled up in courtroom yards and storerooms while livestock disappeared as there was a question of who is the state, is it the Court, law enforcement or the DPP?” said the Receiver.

Speaking at the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Asset Recovery Inter-Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA) last year, the then Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale revealed that money exceeding P20 million has been restrained or forfeited to the state since (PICA) came into operation in January 2015.

Without telling the exact amount recovered on Tuesday, Nlanda said his office has recovered millions which will be invested into the state. “Despite being only two in the office, we have already recovered millions from proceeds of crime and you can imagine how much more we can recover if we have more officers. My office is currently manned by only three officers being the Receiver, a Secretary and a Driver. We are already in possession of court orders to seize and manage both movable and immovable property including plots, houses, buildings, money and even livestock,” he said.

The Receiver’s duties include the coordination of strategic direction on development and review of policies, legislation and programmes in line with Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act, 2014, coordinating bilateral and multilateral relations and cooperation as well as administering the Confiscated Assets Trust Fund.

The Receiver noted that the Confiscated Assets Trust Fund will receive, deposit and administer money collected under PICA, compensate and rehabilitate victims of crime and pay such sums as the Minister of Finance and Economic Development may approve in writing subject to advice by the Receiver.

The Fund Committee will be appointed by Minister of Defence, Justice and Security to monitor administration of the Fund. The Committee which report quarterly to the Permanent Secretary (PS) on the management of the fund will keep the books of accounts and submit them to the Auditor General for auditing.

The Receiver highlighted that they conduct valuation of every asset impounded at the time of seizure. He explained that if suspects before the courts win their cases, such suspects will be paid the value of the assets if the property has already been sold. He said the reason they value the asset at the time of seizure is so that they be responsible for any depreciation in value of such an asset if the depreciation is evidently caused by them.

“The Receiver can to do anything reasonably necessary to preserve value such as becoming party to any civil proceedings affecting property, maintenance and insuring of seized property and realizing or dealing with securities or investment,” said the Receiver. He also stated that he is also empowered by law to exercise rights attaching to shares as if he is the registered owner to the exclusion of the owner, employ, terminate employment in a business deemed a proceed of crime; and if volatile or depreciating in nature or likely to be so before the case is over, dispose seized assets by public auction.

The Receiver is working hand in hand with stakeholders such as Botswana Police Service (BPS) Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS), Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Judiciary.

All these investigating agencies carry out their investigations and send cases to the DPP for prosecution. The DPP receive cases from investigative agencies and apply for pecuniary penalty Order, criminal and civil forfeiture. The courts will then make a determination and issue out seizure orders. Nlanda said that the DPP has a Dedicated Forfeiture Unit and prosecutors trained by the SA Asset Forfeiture Unit.

Together with the above agencies, the Receiver said they shall turn the tide against criminals and ensure that criminals do not cling on to their unlawful gains. Nlanda advanced that his office has “a very good working relationship” with the investigating agencies and they cooperate very well with each other as some have offered to second some of their officers to the Office of the Receiver. He revealed further that these stakeholders even refer cases to each other if they feel the matter is better investigated by other agencies.

“These stakeholders are wworking on Memoranda of Agreements (MoA) between themselves for better working relations and they are to have a common template used to collect and keep statistics,” said Nlanda. Challenges in the management of recovered and returned assets

The Receiver however said there are challenges hampering the successful execution of his mandate as his office is till new and currently under staffed. He said the law is operational and he has court order to execute despite not having knowledgeable officers in the management of property to seize and manage the property as well as not having warehouses to keep the seized property.

However, BURS has given them space in some of their warehouses across the country in the meanwhile. With stock theft being one of the many crimes prosecuted by the courts, the Receiver has no farms to keep cattle, no budget for feeding cattle and for the remuneration of the farm workers.

Continue Reading

News

DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

Continue Reading

News

Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

Continue Reading

News

Botswana ranked 129 in female MPs representation

26th July 2022
Minister of Finance & Economic Development Peggy Serame

The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.

The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.

Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.

The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).

Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).

The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.

Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.

This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors.
Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.

In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.

Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.

In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.

The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.

The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.

Continue Reading
Weekend Post