Govt gets tough on money laundering

Zimbabwe is “urgently” amending at least nine laws to set the framework to implement about 40 international recommendations on anti-money laundering and terrorism, a position that increases the country’s creditworthiness.

The Sunday Mail has gathered that the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill, introduced in the legislative assembly last week, will place Zimbabwe at the fore of accessing international financing.

In 1999, Zimbabwe became a member of the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group, whose objective is to adopt and implement measures to combat money laundering, financing of terrorism and other serious crime.

By virtue of its membership, the country automatically pledged to implement 40 recommendations of the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force, which are regarded as international standards to which countries should aspire.

According to the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill: “Failure to implement the recommendations will lead to Zimbabwe being increasingly isolated from the international financial system.”

It is understood that a team from the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group last year expressed dissatisfaction over Zimbabwe’s reluctance to introduce legislation and financial systems to pave way for the implementation of the 40 recommendations.

The group presented an adverse report, and according to the Bill’s explanatory memorandum: “The findings of the team, and the urgent need to remedy the deficiencies found by them, are the immediate occasion for this Bill.”

The Bill will enact a comprehensive legal framework to implement, in domestic law, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999 and a related UN Security Council resolutions of 2000.

It seeks to strengthen legislative defences against misuse of financial system for the purpose of money laundering or the financing of terrorist activities.

Reads part of the proposed law: “The Bill will amend the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter 9:24), section 27 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act (Chapter 7:20), Section 6 of the Criminal Matters (Mutual Assistance) Act (Chapter 9:06), Section 87 of the Deeds Registries Act (Chapter 20:05), (and) Section 210 of the Customs and Excise Act (Chapter 23:02).”

The Bill will also amend “Section 5 of the Income Tax Act (Chapter 23:06), Section 34A of the Revenue Authority Act (Chapter 23:11), Section 360 of the Companies Act (Chapter 24:03) and the Bank Use Promotion Act (Chapter 24:24) with a view to achieving … the enactment of a comprehensive legal framework to combat money laundering and terrorist financing”.

Other provisions of the Bill include renaming the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Unit under the Bank Use Promotion Act (Chapter 24:24) to the Financial Intelligence Unit.

The FIU will monitor suspicious financial transactions and other financial data from financial institutions

The unit will have authority to disseminate suspicious financial information to law enforcement agencies for purposes of combating money laundering, related offences and terrorist financing both within and outside Zimbabwe.

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