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New FIA Act fails to block terrorism financing, money laundering

The amended Financial Intelligence Act of 2022 is failing to address issues related to money laundering (ML) and Counter Financing Terrorism (CFT), according to a recent follow up report by the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).

The ESAAMLG said the main shortcomings under the mutual evaluation report/follow up report were that the provisions of the Financial Intelligence Act of 2022 were silent on enabling Botswana to apply counter-measures proportionate to the risks when called upon to do so by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Apart from what was communicated to FIs (Financial Institutions) from FATF through the website, Botswana has not indicated that there are also measures in place to ensure that financial institutions are advised of concerns about weaknesses in AML/CFT systems of other countries, the report said.

According to the report, section 49(3) of the FI Act 2022 is focused on all Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) which may be exposed to both Money Laundering (ML) and Terrorism Financing (TF) but falls short of targeting the subset of the (NPO) sector that may be abused for terrorism financing.

The report states that no evidence that Botswana can periodically or has reassessed the NPO sector byreviewing new information on the sector’s potential vulnerabilities to terrorist activitiesto ensure effective implementation of measures.

“The identified deficiencies in thiscriterion are major,” the report says.Botswana has not indicated whether there is a clear policy to promoteaccountability, integrity and public confidence in the administration and management ofthe NOP sector.

According to ESAAMLG, there is a legal obligation to conduct outreach and educationalprogrammes in Botswana in terms of the FI Act 2022.

“From the materialsprovided by Botswana, there is no indication that the high-level meeting of Christianchurches held on 19 February 2022 and the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) Awareness Training for Non-Profit Organisation by the Registrar of Societies on 19th February 2022 targeted the highrisk NPOs nor the donor community,” the report said.

ESAAMLG said it could not determine how collaboration during the risk assessment enabled supervisory authority to work with NPOs to develop and refine best practices to address terrorist financing risk and vulnerabilities and thus protect them from terrorist financing abuse as there is no evidence provided in the Follow Up Report (FUR) nor a relevant section to this effect in the Risk Assessment Report.

The report says Botswana further amended the FI Act to introduce section 49(3)(c) of FI Act 2022 which puts emphasis on conducting targeted supervision and monitoring of NPO at the risk of commission of a financial offence.

It added that there is no indication that steps have been taken by supervisors to demonstrate that risk-based measures apply to NPOs at the risk of terrorist financing abuse.

The report says section 51(1)(a) (ii) of FI Act 2022 does not empower competent authorities in Botswana to have full access to information on the administration and management of particular NPO which information may be obtained in the course of an investigation.

The report indicated that whereas Botswana has demonstrated that it conducted a risk assessment of the NPO sector the submission made fall short of indicating the source of information that authorities in Botswana used to identify the features, and types of NPOs which by virtue of their activities or characteristics are likely to be at risk of terrorist financing abuse.

ESAAMLG said it could not determine whether Botswana has identified a subset of organisations that fall within the FATF’s definition of NPO and the extent to which they are likely to be at risk of terrorist financing abuse.

Acknowledging that there is a legal obligation to conduct outreach and educational programmes in Botswana (section 49(3) of the FI Act 2022),  but the outreach or awareness made so far do not show that high risk NPOs or donor community have been targeted.

Submissions made by Botswana authorities fall short of demonstrating that Botswana police have investigative expertise and capability to examine those NPOs suspected of either being exploited by or actively supporting terrorist activities or organisations, the report says.

Botswana has not shared a mechanism it uses to target a particular NPO that may fall within the scope of the three itemised scenarios. On the other hand, the legal provisions provided do not target a particular NPO but are general for persons or entities that may fulfill the criteria for national listing.

While the Registrar of Societies (NPO) has not been identified as one of the competent authorities to respond to international requests for information where a particular NPO is suspected of terrorist financing or involvement in other forms of terrorist support in particular where this may not require formal procedures, the report says.

According to the report; “Botswana has not identified and assessed the money laundering and terrorist financing risks emerging from virtual asset activities and the activities or operations of virtual asset service providers (VASPs) nor has it applied a risk-based approach on ML/TF risks related to VA activities or operations or activities of VASPs.”

Section 13 (1) (a) -(c) of the Financial Intelligence Act, 2022 does not factor in customers, countries or geographic areas and falls short of explicitly including requirements of criterion 1.10 (a)-(d), the report said.

It says there is no evidence that Botswana has taken action to identify natural or legal persons that carry out VASPs activities without the requisite licence and as a result, no sanctions have been applied in terms of section 31 of the Virtual Assets Act 2022.

Although Botswana has undertaken a risk assessment on legal persons, the Risk Assessment report has a very limited information/analysis on whether the assessment covered associated ML/TF all types of legal persons that can be created and operate in Botswana.

The main shortcomings under the mutual evaluation report/follow up report were that there was no requirement to keep, obtain and keep accurate and up-to-date information on any natural person exercising ultimate effective control over the trust.

“The Trust Property Control Act did not specify whether Botswana requires trustees to also keep basic information of the other regulated agents of trust and service providers to the trust including investment advisors or managers, accountants, and tax advisors,” the report says.

While the Financial Institutions Act was amended to impose a legal obligation on a supervisory authority to review the assessment of the money-laundering terrorist financing and financing of proliferation risk profile of a specified party or accountable institution, Botswana has not indicated howeach of the supervisory authorities reviews the assessment of the ML/TF risk profile of aspecified party or accountable institution in order to ensure the implementation of thisprovision.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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