E990 Million Potentially Laundered In Eswatini

By Ntokozo Nkambule

The Ministry of Finance’s Second Quarter Performance Report 2022/23 has revealed interesting findings, one of them being that the country faces a huge money laundering challenge.

The report discloses that potential money laundered in the Kingdom for the quarter under review is approximately E987 321 392.

The Eswatini Financial Intelligence Unit (EFIU) is responsible for compliance oversight of the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorist (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended. The Unit’s function is to monitor compliance, inform, advise, and collaborate with Supervisory Authorities and other Competent Authorities.

The EFIU is also responsible for the training of Accountable institutions, Supervisory Authorities, and Competent Authorities on their AML/CFT compliance obligations.

In a meeting held in December last year with the Ministry of Housing Board and the real estate industry, the EFIU stressed that they suspect that 80% of proceeds from money laundering are channeled towards the aforementioned sector.

The Ministry of Finance’s report notes that a high volume of the funds comprises of cash deposits, followed by ETF and incoming Cross Border payments.

“Crimes such as tax evasion remain prevalent. Copper theft is also on the rise and dagga trafficking is also thriving”

On a positive note, the Ministry observes that government agencies such as the Eswatini Revenue Services (ERS) reported that they are close to finalizing some cases.

“There are high-profile cases that needed the commissioner’s approval before proceeding with the cases,” notes the ERS.

For the period under review, the EFIU received a total of 907 Suspicious Transaction Requests (STRs) from reporting institutions and 8 requests from Law Enforcement Agencies.

Moreover, in July 2022, the EFIU received 245 reports from financial and non-bank financial institutions.

“The Unit received 2 requests from Law Enforcement Agents (LEAs). In August 2022, the EFIU received 319 reports and received 4 requests from the LEAs. In September 2022, the EFIU received 343 reports and received 2 requests from the LEAs. The total number of STRs received in the current quarter is almost like the previous quarter with a difference of only 11 reports less.”

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