Staff Writer

Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) during its financial year ending year ended 31 March 2020 says it flagged transactions worth N$17 billion which it suspects to be proceeds of crime and are now subject to investigation by law enforcement agents.

During the period under review, the centre, according to its annual report contributed to 84 investigations conducted by various law enforcement authorities.

“The top five underlying predicate offenses investigated include fraud, corruption, poaching, dealing in drugs, illegal deposit taking/pyramid schemes and money laundering. Furthermore, investigations by these law enforcement agencies with assistance of the Office of the Prosecutor General secured fifteen (15) money laundering convictions and criminal sanctions applied. Furthermore, there are fifty (50) other cases with elements of money laundering offences currently pending before various courts,” Director of the Financial Intelligence Centre in the Bank of Namibia, Leonie Dunn said.

“Additionally, the FIC contributed through Spontaneous Disclosures and responses to request information amounting to millions of dollars in tax assessments issued by the Receiver of Revenue against individuals and businesses.”

Dunn said FIC’s efforts remain hampered by a limited understanding of its statutory mandate by some stakeholders and the public.

“In this regard, an insufficient understanding of Namibia’s global AML/CFT/CPF prevention and combatting obligations (as mandated under applicable UN Conventions, mandatory UN Security Council resolutions embodied in the FATF recommendations) may amongst others, negatively impede the government’s efforts to ensure that that the integrity and stability of Namibia’s financial system and broader economy is protected from the risks and threats of ML/TF/PF,” she said.

Dunn said Covid-19 and a continuous imbalance between the FIC’s extensive mandate and the available human, technological and financial resources continue to impact its operations.

“This imbalance contributes to delays in timeous removal of proceeds of crime from the financial system and/or disrupting the flow of financial resources to those involved in the criminal activities. To overcome identified challenges, a Public Private Partnership and Integrated Investigative Task Force platforms was established. The platforms enable the pooling together of critical and needed resources to fast-track investigations, evidence collection, asset identification seizing, freezing etc. in priority cases involving national interest,” she said.

The FIC is an administrative part of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) housed in the Bank of Namibia. Its role is to receive information via various reporting types inclusive of suspicious transactions or activity reports from various sources. Their mandate is to analyse the information and disseminate intelligence to competent authorities, inclusive of law enforcement agencies, for investigation.