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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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29 SEPTEMBER 2023 Publication

29th September 2023

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BMD disapproves homosexuality

26th September 2023

The newly elected Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Executive Committee led by Pastor Reverend Thuso Tiego has declared their disapproval of homosexuality saying it is anti-Christianity and Botswana culture.

Speaking at a Media Briefing this past week, BMD President Tiego said Botswana has been a country that respects culture hence endorsing homosexuality will be catastrophic.

“Our young generation grew up being taught about types of families, if homosexuality is passed, at what age will our children be introduced to homosexuality?” he rhetorically asked.

He continued: “If we are going to allow homosexuality then the next day, another person will come and say he wants to practice bestiality. What are we going to do because we have already allowed for this one (homosexuality) and at the end it will be a total mess.” Bestiality is sexual relations between a human being and an animal

This according to Tiego will give those people an opportunity thus disrupting known Botswana beliefs. He however dismissed any notion that the decision to condemn homosexuality should not be linked to the top two of the committee who are men of cloth. “This is a decision by the whole committee which respects the culture of Botswana and it should not be perceived that because we are clergymen we are influencing them, but even if we do, politics and religion are inter-related.”

Of late the church and the human rights organization have been up in arms because of the high court decision to allow for same sex marriages. Ministries ganged up, petitioned parliament and threatened to vote out any legislator who will support the idea. The ruling party, BDP which was to table the amendment in the constitution, ended up deferring it.

BMD President further revealed that he is aware of what really led to the split of the party and he is on course to transform as they approach 2024 elections.

“There are so many factors that led to split of party amongst others being leadership disputes, personal egos and ambitions, toxic factionalism and ideological difference just to mention a few, but we are transforming the party and I am confident that we will do well in the coming elections.

In addition, Tiego is hopeful that they will take the government as they feel it is time to rebrand Botswana politics and bring in fresh blood of leaders.

He further hinted that they are coming with positive transformation as they eye to better the lives of Batswana.

“When we assume government, we promise to be transparent, free and fair electoral processes and encourage pluralism as way of getting back to our roots of being a democratic country as it seems like the current government has forgotten about that important aspect,” Tiego explained.

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North Korea diplomats in suspected illegal ivory trade

26th September 2023

Reeling under the increasing barrage of stinging international sanctions, the isolated North Korean regime is reportedly up to its old trickery, this time in a more complicated web of murky operations that have got the authorities of five southern African countries at sixes and sevens as they desperately try to tighten their dragnet around Pyongyang’s spectral network of illicit ivory and rhino horn trade.

It is an intricate network of poaching for elephant tusks and rhino horns that spans Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, with the main sources of the contraband being Botswana and South Africa.

The syndicate running the illegal trafficking of the poached contraband is suspected to be controlled by two shadowy North Korean government operatives with close links to one Han Tae-song, a disgraced North Korean career diplomat who, while serving as the second secretary at his country’s embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, was expelled in 1992 after he was fingered as the mastermind behind a similar illegal ring that was busted by the country’s authorities.

This disturbing tale of malfeasance by North Korean state actors is as real as it gets.

Recent reports indicate that authorities in the source countries are jointly battling to plug holes created by the shadowy syndicate which allegedly has on its payroll, park rangers, border officials and cross-border truck drivers.

Even more disturbing are allegations that some wildlife officials are conniving in misrepresenting numbers of retrieved rhino horns and ivory from poachers and getting kickbacks for their involvement in the pilfering of ivory and rhino horns from government stockpiles especially in South Africa.

In a shocking and well-orchestrated movie-style heist in South Africa, thieves in June this year made off with 51 rhino horns after breaking into a very secure government stockpile facility of the North West Parks Board (NWPB).

While some suspects from South Africa and Malawi were nabbed in a government sting operation, none of the rhino horns – 14 of which were very large specimens that can fetch serious money on the black market – were recovered.

A report of the heist said the police were lethargic by eight hours in responding to an emergency alert of the robbery which was described by North West police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone as “… a case of business robbery…”

Thabang Moko, a security analyst in Pretoria says the military precision in the burglary, delays in police response, and failure to recover the stolen rhino horns is dubious. “This development lends credence to suspicions that some government officials could be part of a shadowy syndicate run by foreign buyers of rhino horns and ivory,” Moko says.

It is understood that in light of the rhino horns heist in North West, South Africa’s Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy on 1 August, shared her concerns to her counterparts in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique calling for greater regional cooperation to combat the illegal wildlife trafficking which she believes is being masterminded by the Far East’s buyers of the ill-gotten horns and ivory.

It is believed that foreign kingpins involved in perpetuating the illegal trade are mainly North Koreans vying against Vietnamese and Cambodian buyers in the quest for dominance of the illicit trade in rhino horns and ivory sourced from southern Africa.

Creecy’s concerns, which she also shared to South Africa’s state-run broadcaster SABC, echoed Moko’s worries that the North West heist may have been an inside job.

According to Creecy, there was a need for the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol)’s greater involvement in joint investigations by affected countries as there were indications of ‘local knowledge’ of the North West job and that syndicates, “Higher up the value chain actually recruit park rangers to the illegal ivory trade network.”

Botswana’s Environment and Tourism Minister Philda Kereng is on national record admitting that poaching was a source of headaches to her government, especially considering that the daring poachers were making successful incursions into secure areas protected by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).

This came after poachers gunned down two white rhinos at the BDF-protected Khama Rhino Sanctuary in August 2022 despite Kereng putting the time frame of the killings between October and November 2022.

Kereng hinted at the existence of Asian controlled syndicates and acknowledged that the surge in poaching in Botswana is driven by the “increased demand for rhino horn on the international market” where in Asia rhino horns are believed to be potent in traditional medicines and for their imagined therapeutic properties.

Botswana has in the past recorded an incident of a group of an all-Asian reconnaissance advance team teams being nabbed by the country’s intelligence service in the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.

Masquerading as tourists, the group, with suspected links to North Korea and China, was discovered to be collecting crucial data for poachers.

Also according to reliable information at hand, an undisclosed number of wildlife parks rangers were arrested between September 2022 and January this year, after information surfaced that they connived in the smuggling of rhino horns and ivory from Botswana.

One of the rangers reportedly admitted getting paid to falsify information on recovered horns and ivory which were smuggled out of the country through its vast and porous eastern border with South Africa, and making their way to their final destination in Mozambique via back roads and farmlands in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“We are aware that in the past year, some rhino horns and ivory illegally obtained from Botswana through poaching activities and shady deals by some elements within our wildlife and national parks department, have found their way out of the country and end up in Mozambique’s coastal ports for shipment to the Far East,” a Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) source says.

Independent investigations reveal that two North Korean buyers, one of them only identified as Yi Kang-dae [confirmed to be an intelligence official in the country’s state security apparatus], acting on behalf of the disgraced Han Tae-song, financed the entire operation on two occasions between 2022 and 2023, to move at least 18 rhino horns and 19 elephant tusks from Botswana, including pay-offs – mostly to border patrol and customs officials for safe passage – along the knotty conduit across South Africa’s north western lands, then across south-eastern Zimbabwe into Mozambique.

According to a trusted cross-border transport operator in Zimbabwe, the rhino horns and elephant tusks were illegally handed over to smugglers in Mozambique at an obscure illegal crossing point 15km north of Zimbabwe’s Forbes Border Post in November 2022 and February this year.

The end buyers in Mozambique? “It is quite an embarrassment for us, but we have solid evidence that two North Korean buyers, one of them who is linked to a former notorious diplomat from that country who has been in the past involved in such illegal activities in Zimbabwe, oversaw the loading of rhino horns and ivory onto a China-bound ship from one of our ports,” a top government source in Maputo said before declining to divulge more information citing ongoing investigations.


Yi Kang-dae and his accomplice’s whereabouts are presently unclear to Mozambican authorities whose dragnet reportedly recently netted some key actors of the network. Han Tae-song currently serves as North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations in Switzerland.

North Korean diplomats have in the past used Mozambique as a final transit point for the shipment of rhino horns to the Far East.

In May 2015, Mozambican authorities nabbed two North Koreans, one of them a Pretoria-based diplomat and political counsellor identified as Pak Chol-jun after they were caught in possession of 4.5kg of rhino horn pieces and US$100,000 cash.

Pak’s accomplice, Kim Jong-su, a Taekwondo instructor also based in South Africa, was fingered as a North Korean spy and returned to North Korea under suspicious circumstances on the heels of Pak’s expulsion from South Africa in November 2016.

A security source in Zimbabwe closely following current developments says there is a big chance that Han Tae-song may have revived the old smuggling network he ran while posted in Zimbabwe in the 90s.

“The biting international sanctions against North Korea in the past decade may have prompted Han to reawaken his network which has been dormant for some time,” the source says. “There is no telling if the shady network is dead now given that Han’s two front men have not been nabbed in Mozambique. More joint vigilance is needed to destroy the operation at the source and at the end of the line.”

North Korean diplomats have, as early as October 1976, been fingered for engaging in illegal activities ranging from possession of and trade in ivory pieces, trade in diamonds and gold, the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit currencies, pharmaceuticals, and the sale on the black market, of a paraphernalia of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and other trinkets on the back of protracted and biting international sanctions against the reclusive state for its gross human rights abuses against its own people and flagrant nuclear tests.

These illegal activities, according to a US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, have raked in at least US$500m annually for the Pyongyang regime. Other global studies estimate that North Korea’s illegal earnings from the black market are around $1bn annually, and are being channelled towards the country’s nuclear weapons programme, while ordinary North Koreans continue to die of mass starvation.

In February 2014, Botswana, citing systematic human rights violations, severed ties with North Korea with the former’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi (then vice president) calling North Korea an ‘evil nation’ on 23 September 2016, at a United Nations General Assembly forum in Washington, USA.

Botswana has close to 132,000 elephants, more than any of its four neighbouring countries, namely Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to a 2022 Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) Elephant Survey.

The rhino population in Botswana has significantly dwindled, with poaching a leading cause of the decimation of the country’s rhinos. Despite dehorning and relocating its diminishing rhino population from the extensive Okavango Delta to undisclosed sanctuaries, Botswana has since 2018, lost 138 rhinos to poachers.

The sharp spike in rhino poaching in Botswana came after the country’s government made a controversial decision to disarm park rangers in early 2018.

In a statement delivered in November 2022 to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) CoP-19 in Panama, the Botswana government instead blamed the surge in poaching to a shift of foreign-sponsored organised poaching organisations from South Africa to Botswana.

“This increase in rhino poaching in Botswana coincided with a decline of rhino poaching in South Africa from 2018 to 2020, suggesting a displacement of the poaching syndicates from South Africa to Botswana,” the statement reads. “The recent decline in rhino poaching in Botswana (2021 and 2022, relative to 2020) coincides with the increase in rhino poaching in Namibia and South Africa, further suggesting displacement of the poaching syndicates across the sub-region.”

According to the Botswana government, as of 13 November 2022 the country has secreted its shrinking rhinos (only 285 white rhinos and 23 black rhinos) in undisclosed locations within the country’s borders.

South Africa has close to 15,000 rhinos. Between January and June 2022 alone, poachers killed 260 rhinos in South Africa for their horns. The country is home to the majority of Africa’s white rhinos, a species whose existence remains under threat of extinction due to poaching.

The major threat posed by foreign state actors including those from North Korea, to southern Africa’s rhino and elephant population remains grim as the bulk of the rhino horns and elephant tusks reportedly continue finding their way to the Far East, where China is being used as the major distribution centre.

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