Botswana risks being blacklisted by international organisations by the year 2022 due to lack of sufficient policies and legislations to curb money laundering. This was brought to the fore by Mothusi Obateng, a Financial Crime Risk Manager at First National Bank (FNB) during a fraud awareness symposium in Francistown mid-week.
Obateng said currently Botswana has been grey listed and is on the brink of being blacklisted if the authorities do not act swiftly to come up with legislation that will curtail money laundering and financing of terrorism acts. “As Batswana we trust a lot and we lack knowledge about money laundering. In many incidents we exercise a lot of trust without carrying out due diligence before carrying out financial transactions. Many people are always willing to let strangers to deposit cash into their bank accounts without interrogating about the source of such funds and that is a recipe for disaster as it can be a breeding ground for money laundering,” Obateng underscored. Such tendencies, Obateng observed, landed Botswana in hot water leading to the grey listing.
According to Obateng, one of the reasons that led to Botswana being grey listed is failure to comply with international standards and to carry out due diligence before undertaking financial transactions. He dismissed the perception that terrorists financing is only done through dirty money stating that in the modern day, terrorism financing can be done through clean money as people can even apply for loans to finance such inhuman acts. Obateng told the gathering that the reason why terrorists prefer to use dirty money is that most of them have been sanctioned and blacklisted which means they cannot do any legitimate business hence they resort to selling drugs to finance their activities. He highlighted that there are three stages of money laundering which are; placement, layering and integration. Obateng mentioned that money launders are very smart and they always come up with tricks to hide the source of their funds and avoid the long arm of the law. He pleaded with the attendants to always ask the relevant questions before accepting to carry out financial transactions for strangers.
To avoid being black listed, Obateng said Botswana is currently reviewing the Financial Intelligence Act to tighten the grip and close loopholes that can breed money laundering. He opines that parliament has reviewed fines imposed on those that fail to abide by the financial intelligence act as a way of curbing money laundering.