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‘Legal practice contributes to illicit financial flows’

MPHO MOKWAPE
Diba PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Legal practice in the country has reportedly contributed heavily to money laundering and illicit financial flows.

According to the Law Society of Botswana (LSB), the legal practice contributed significantly to the recent poor showing in the international ratings for Anti- Money Laundering and control of illicit financial flows by Financial Action Task Force based in Paris.

The Society’s chairperson, Diba Diba said it was a concern that the legal practice has a hand in illicit dealings and that they would do all that was necessary to assist the country attain compliance.  “This will include training for our members in this area and by ensuring a more robust regulatory framework,” he said.

Diba explained that the LSB already have measures in place to tackle the situation and that currently they have had engagements with the Financial Intelligence Agency for further collaboration and training. He said in terms of the Legal Practitioners Act, trust accounts of legal practitioners are only intended to be used for receiving or holding money which is to be held in trust for a particular purpose connected with the practice of the attorney.

“In terms of the act, it is an offence punishable by a fine and / or imprisonment if an attorney contravenes this provision. It is also prima facie professional misconduct for which if found guilty the sanction may be disbarment,” he said. Diba also noted that the Society continues to warn the public about the wary of fraudsters masquerading as

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attorneys and some calling themselves paralegals.

He explained that only persons who hold a practising certificate are allowed to provide legal services for a fee or reward and they are legal practitioners.

“The Society’s view is that even the Trade Disputes Act when it provides that a party may be represented by anybody envisages that the representative, such as a shop steward, official of a Union or employee of a party would not be appearing for a fee or reward,” he said.

He noted that they would soon be challenging the appearance by non-lawyers for a fee at the Industrial Court at the High Court.

The Society encouraged the public to stay clear of pseudo lawyers noting that whilst they may be cheap ultimately the unsuspecting client will pay heavily for not having had proper legal advice from a trained professional.

Meanwhile Chief Justice, Terrence Rannowane said corruption has negative implications on the economy.

He explained that they have since streamlined and strengthened the courts dedicated to corruption cases by establishing another court at the High Court division in Gaborone to argument the one in Francistown.

“I wish to implore those involved in these shenanigans to heed the divine admonition. In recapitulation, we must engender in our people especially the youth that a spirit of mining hard work, perseverance and sacrifice as there are no easy pickings in life,” he said.



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