The government was yesterday urged to tighten and implement anti-money laundering laws in a bid to fight the vice, with the opposition camp warning that Tanzania was a potential “heaven” for illicit cash.
The opposition MPs and the finance and economic affairs parliamentary committee asked the government to institute practical and strategic measures to curb money laundering in Tanzania.
“The government must be very tough in order to stamp out this dangerous vice,” said Dr Abdallah Kigoda, when presenting the committee’s views after the Finance Minister Mustafa Mkulo tabled the Anti-Money laundering (Amendment) Bill-2012 — for debate and subsequent endorsement by the House.
The committee urged the government to fast-track preparation of relevant supportive regulations in order to enhance effective enforcement of the anti-money laundering law, considering the magnitude of the problem in the country.
According to the committee, the regulations would set limits on the amount of money a foreign national or a Tanzanian would be allowed to transfer to other countries.
“Without strict regulations, it would be impossible to know the amount of money (money laundering) currently being transferred from our country to other countries,” said Kigoda, noting: “A lot of our money is being transferred to other countries…this is not healthy for the country’s economy and of course, it is one of the forces behind rapid depreciation of the Tanzanian shilling.”
The committee called on the Bank of Tanzania (BOT) to put up strict controls to ensure effective implementation of financial laws in a drive to prevent money laundering, which is becoming a serious disease in Tanzania.
Kigoda underlined the need to adhere to ethics and patriotism, on the part of executives of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), as proposed in the Bill, in the course of conducting their duties. “The committee proposes that these executive should keep secrets while in service and out of service,” said the committee.
The opposition camp said money laundering was widespread in the country, and that pioneers of the illicit money were coming in the name of investors and importers of goods and services.
“These people using financial systems and structures…siphon a lot of money out of Tanzania. It’s a big threat to our economy. It is a major threat to the economic and social future of Tanzanians,” said Christina Mughwai, shadow finance minister, when presenting opposition views.
The opposition told the government to put up strong legal and regulatory frameworks to control money laundering, adding that the anti-money laundering unit (FIU) which would be formed by this law needs to be independent.
“It is illogical to put such a sensitive unit under finance ministry…it should be completely independent,” said Mughwai.
Contributing, Zitto Kabwe said latest SADC reports show that Tanzania and Malawi are the main heavens of illicit money —“engineers of illegal money are coming into our country with dirty money…invest them in real estate, which is currently not even regulated.”
Quoting the same report, the legislator said Tanzania provides space for money launders to clean up their illicit money through various investments and later on transfer cleaned money to other countries.
“Worse, the finance minister has failed to draft regulations for the Anti-money Laundering Act since it came into force six years ago…how come, the minister is coming again to seek House approval for amendment of the Act, while he had failed to prepare supportive regulations for years?” questioned the MP.
The amendments were passed by the National Assembly last evening.