June 27, 2013

Anti-money Laundering Law to be used for tracing stolen Money

Members of Parliament are suggesting that the Anti-Money laundering Bill should have a retrospective effect.

This is to allow the Bill, once passed into law and implemented, to have a threshold and trace money taken by government officials way back in 2001 and not those caught now.

The Bill is meant to combat money laundering in the country though criminalizing the act and controlling the financing of terrorism. It seeks to report suspicious financial transactions and cross border movements of currency and monetary instruments and establishing a financial intelligence authority. The authority will be responsible for dealing with reported suspicious and large cash transaction reports and other information.

On Wednesday, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga reminded Parliament that Uganda would be penalized if they did not put the Anti-money Laundering law in place. It is also said that implementation of the Bill was among the conditions set by the donors after the loss of 50 billion shillings in the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Bill also aims at responding to the threat posed by organized crime by providing law enforcement officials and authorities with the information they need to deprive criminals the proceeds of their criminal activities. It also seeks to enable Uganda fulfill its international commitments to participate in the fight against transnational crime particularly money laundering.

But Aruu County MP Odonga Otto noted that it’s unfortunate that the law is coming nine years down the road after government officials have laundered all the money and the law may not catch up with them. He also hit at President Museveni’s action to carry 250 million shillings to youth groups in Busoga saying the law should prohibit such actions and provide new measures on how much money can be moved from one financial institution to another.

Kyaka County MP William Kwemara urged Parliament to focus on the macroeconomic effect of money laundering such as economic distortions that a country suffers. He argues that in money laundering the perpetrators make loads of money illegitimately and create false demands.

He cites the real estate business where he claims that ill-gotten money is being invested making government to conclude that the construction industry is growing. Kwemara also blames money laundering for the collapse of banks, undermining the integrity of the financial sector, stifling local businesses and transfering market power from genuine businessmen to criminals.

Kwemara however noted that there is need to question how sound the banking system is, the level of corporate governance, size of the underground economy and how vigilant the country has been in the non-banking channels of money laundering.

Lucy Ajok, the Woman MP for Apac, says there is need to build strong institutions and fight corruption but also focus on the money that is coming in to weaken the structures.

Mbale Municipality MP, Jack Wamai Wamanga, noted that Uganda has been a cleaning ground for some investors who come with illegal money and clean it from here. He wondered how much money investors such as the Chinese not only bring in but take out of the country through their investments.

The Bill is still under debate.

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