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Fight against greylisting quickens, as deadline looms

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning believes significant progress has been made in achieving milestones set by an international money laundering body, ahead of the January 2020 deadline set.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the leading anti-money laundering agency founded by the world’s richest countries, greylisted Botswana last October citing institutional and structural deficiencies in the country’s anti-money laundering defences.

On the FATF’s recommendations, the European Union (EU) in February blacklisted Botswana and 22 other countries, citing the weak systems and saying it “had to make sure that dirty money from other countries does not find its way to our financial system”.

The effect of the adverse listings has been to take the shine of the country’s well-curated investment climate, as potential investors are required to go through onerous checks to move funds into and out of Botswana.

At a briefing on Friday, finance minister, Kenneth Matambo said government was doing everything possible to build a robust Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, in line with international best practice. He noted that the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG), an FATF team that analyses high-risk jurisdictions and recommends specific action, had presented Botswana with an action plan and timelines in November 2018.

The country has to fully implement these in order to address strategic deficiencies and be lifted out of the greylisting. At a media briefing on Friday, Matambo said of the six items the ICRG had tasked Botswana with addressing, the country had made significant progress ahead of the January 2020 deadline.

“Botswana is expected to conduct risk assessments with legal persons, legal arrangements, Non-Profit Organisations and to develop and implement the risk-based national AML/CFT strategy. “The two concerned ministries have collaborated and appointed a consultant to

conduct the risk assessment and the consultant’s assignment is expected to be completed by next month.

“With regard to the development of the national AML/CFT strategy, my ministry has prepared a draft strategy with assistance of the UK Treasury and will soon submit to Cabinet for approval, mindful of the January 2020 deadline,” Matambo said.

Progress was also being made on the action item requiring AML/CFT supervisory authorities to develop and implement risk-based AML/CFT supervisory manuals. Another objective, under which the Financial Intelligence Agency is required to improve and enhance the use of financial intelligence by relevant law enforcement, was also being tackled.

“The FIA and law enforcement agencies continue to capacitate relevant officers on these matters,” Matambo said.

“They have adopted new strategies to cooperate and collaborate, at both strategic and operational levels and the country has registered significant progress ahead of the January 2020 deadline.

The Directorate of Intelligence Services was also capacitating officers on investigations dealing with terrorism financing, while the National Counter Terrorism Committee was equally hard at work. Botswana is also in the process of operationalising the Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Radiological Weapons Management Authority, with the founding director due in office by October 31, 2019.

The Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), the FATF’s regional body whose adverse 2017 assessment of Botswana snowballed into the negative listings, recently finalised an update showing robust improvement.

A six-member team from the regional body visited Botswana recently and found that the country had improved in the majority of the 40 concerns and recommendations made in 2017.




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