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New law gives money launderers 15 years in jail

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th November 2009 03:00 AM

MONEY launderers will face up to 15 years in jail or pay a maximum fine of sh2b if the Anti-Money Laundering Bill is passed into law.

MONEY launderers will face up to 15 years in jail or pay a maximum fine of sh2b if the Anti-Money Laundering Bill is passed into law.

By Catherine Bekunda

MONEY launderers will face up to 15 years in jail or pay a maximum fine of sh2b if the Anti-Money Laundering Bill is passed into law.

The Bill, that was tabled before Parliament by finance minister Syda Bbumba last week, seeks to combat money laundering and control the financing of terrorism.

A Financial Intelligence Authority will be established.

Money laundering is the process of turning illegally obtained property into seemingly legitimate property. It includes concealing the nature, source, location, disposition or movement of the proceeds of crime.

The Bill provides for international cooperation in investigation and prosecution of cases of money laundering.

The crime will fall under the Ugandan jurisdiction if it is committed in Uganda, aboard a ship that is flying the Ugandan flag or an aircraft registered under the laws of Uganda, committed by a Ugandan national or a stateless person who mostly resides in Uganda.

“It will be an extraditable offence,” Bbumba said. She explained that the Bill enables Uganda to fulfil its international commitments to participate in the fight against trans-national crime.

Persons transporting more than sh30m across the national borders of Uganda will have to notify the customs and excise department of the Uganda Revenue Authority, according to the Bill.

Finance institutions will also be required to maintain accounts for customers in their true names, not to open anonymous accounts or accounts with fictitious or incorrect names.

“Institutions must verify the identity of a customer through reliable independent source documents like passport, driving licence, birth certificate, voters’ roll cards and utility bills,” noted Bbumba.

Financial institutions will also be required to keep for at least 10 years the information obtained about the true identity of a person on whose behalf a business relationship is initiated or a transaction is conducted.

The minister argued that institutions should examine the origin and destination of the money received. In addition, they should check the background and purpose of the transaction or business relationship, the identity of the transacting parties, including any ultimate beneficiaries.

The Bill gives the court power to issue a confiscation order for property obtained through crime or used in committing a crime.

Property will also be confiscated if the court finds that the income of a person from sources unrelated to criminal activity cannot reasonably account for the acquisition of the property.

The confiscated property will automatically become the Government’s property and will be administered by the Financial Intelligence Authority under the Confiscated Assets Fund.

In the same Bill, a person who tips off an offender commits an offence and faces a prison sentence of up to five years or a maximum fine of sh180m. The punishment will be sh300m if committed by a company.

Other offences under the Bill that carry the same sentence include falsification and concealment of documents, failure to identify persons, failure to keep records, destroying or tampering with records, facilitating money laundering and failure to report suspicious transactions.

New law gives money launderers 15 years in jail

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