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Botswana takes action to assess, prevent financial crimes

Botswana has just completed a National Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) Risk Assessment. The National Risk Assessment (NRA) was supported by the World Bank which resulted in the adoption by officials of a National Risk Assessment Report and Action Plan presented at a three-day workshop. Botswana is the eleventh country in Africa to do so.

In 2012, an international obligation was adopted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requiring all countries to undertake a National AML/CFT Risk Assessment.

The goal behind this was to bring about stronger more effective AML/CFT systems by identifying the risks a country faces and targeting scarce resources in a way that mitigates the identified risks, threats and vulnerabilities.

Prior to 2012, there was no precedent of a country that had undertaken a National AML/CFT Risk Assessment (NRA), and because such a task was regarded as complicated and daunting, the World Bank’s Financial Integrity Unit saw it fit to develop a National AML/CFT Risk Assessment Tool.

The tool was developed to aid countries that needed assistance and guidance on how to commence such an assessment. Botswana was one of the countries that requested the World Bank Group’s help with conducting the assessment in 2014.  

To date, the World Bank’s NRA Tool has been used by more than 40 countries to complete NRAs, 30 more countries have commenced NRAs using the World Bank NRA Tool, and another 30+ countries have requested World Bank technical assistance and the NRA Tool to support the commencement of their NRAs.   

“The World Bank’s National Risk Assessment tool helped to add value to this important work by providing a more thorough understanding of how to assess actual money laundering and terrorist financing risks using clear data,” said Elene Imnadze, World Bank Botswana Country Representative at the NRA workshop.

“The World Bank stands ready to support Botswana’s work and help it become a leading African country in effectively meeting international obligations.”

The recently completed process involved more than 50 officials representing approximately 20

collaborating ministries and a number of agencies. Officials with expertise worked to collect and analyse large amounts of data, information and statistics to identify and prioritise the main money laundering and terrorist financing risks Botswana faces.  

 The money laundering risks identified at the workshop were based on data indicating higher levels of criminality linked to wildlife poaching, weak controls in the diamond sector, auto theft, and financial crimes like tax evasion and corruption. 

Weaknesses in national controls systems were identified in the legal frameworks and effectiveness of implementation.

The completion of the National Risk Assessment indicates that Botswana has complied with an important international obligation which other countries in the world are in the process of undertaking. 

“We appreciate the assistance we have received from the World Bank throughout the duration of the National Risk Assessment project.

We are also grateful for the NRA working groups and the selflessness and enthusiasm they exhibited during the course of the project.

Moving forward I hope we will be able to strengthen our legal framework, which is our first line of defence in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing,” remarked Elaina Gonsalves, Deputy Secretary for economic and finance policy in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

The identified risks and threats from the National AML/CFT Risk Assessment will assist the officials to strengthen country systems and apply appropriate control measures in order to fight money laundering, terrorist financing, and related underlying criminal activities including corruption, pursuant to international AML/CFT obligations

This system, once fully operational, will stem illicit financing flows (IFFs) and contribute to stronger economic development, shared prosperity, and help reduce poverty.




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