The Sunday Mail
At least NINETY-SEVEN companies, excluding those in the financial services sector, have been fined as much as US$20 000 by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for offences ranging from failure to report suspicious transactions, laxity in conducting customer due diligence to neglecting the need to undertake money laundering assessment risks.
The entities fall under the designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs), and include real estate agents, corporate trusts, accounting and auditing firms, law firms, car dealers and casino operators.
However, most of the penalised firms are in the real estate sector, followed by dealers in precious stones and precious metals.
FIU recently launched a blitz against organisations involved in illicit financial transactions that are destabilising the exchange rate and prices.
FIU director-general Mr Oliver Chiperesa told The Sunday Mail that the DNFBPs had been advised to put in place measures to prevent illicit transactions.
“In the last three weeks we have sent out penalty letters to 97 entities or the so-called designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs),” Mr Chiperesa said.
“There are six categories of DNFBPs, the so-called professional gatekeepers who are required to implement measures to help prevent entry of illicit proceeds into the financial system.
“The six categories are: law firms, accounting firms, estate agents, casinos, precious stone and precious metal dealers, car dealers and trust and corporate service providers (company and trust formation / management agents). They have not been adhering to their statutory obligations under the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.”
In the past, he said, the regulatory approach in terms of fighting money laundering and terrorism financing has been focusing on banks and other non-bank financial institutions.
“But criminals have been increasingly making use of and abusing the other designated professions to mask and give credibility to their illegal transactions, hence the new shift to require DNFBPs to also implement robust anti-money laundering measures,” he said.
The real estate sector, at 72, has the highest number of sanctioned DNFBPs, followed by dealers in precious stones and precious metals (20), accounting and auditing firms (three), trust and corporate service providers (one) and casinos (one).
Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe (REIZ) president Dr Mike Juru welcomed the FIU’s blitz, saying they do not condone such illegal activities.