THE Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Bill yesterday sailed through the National Assembly, with MPs suggesting that the legislation should deal with illegal foreign currency dealers.
The Bill was brought before Parliament by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, and it will amend the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act so that it is consistent with international standards and attract foreign direct investment.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance chairperson, David Chapfika said when his committee went around the country to gather people’s views on the Bill, the public suggested that illegal money changers must be busted.
“Members of the public said the Bill must incorporate provisions that will deal with the parallel money markets and illegal money changers on the streets to ensure that those caught are ruthlessly dealt with,” he said.
“People said the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) must be an autonomous and independent body outside the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in order for it to be efficient and make a significant impact to combat money laundering, financial terrorism and related crimes.”
There were also suggestions that the FIU must be well-funded, well-equipped and highly-computerised.
“The finance committee recommends that the Financial Intelligence Unit must be given powers to block or freeze suspicious transactions,” Chapfika said.
Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna said there is need for the FIU to investigate cases of ill-gotten wealth, where people build big houses and yet there is no disclosure of their source of wealth.
Zvishavane-Ngezi MP John Holder accused the government of adopting a lackadaisical attitude in dealing with illegal foreign currency dealers, saying these were fronting for top government officials.
“People in positions of authority are the ones actually funding money laundering through illegal money changers and that is why nothing is being done about them. As long as the RBZ does not put proper policies in place, this will continue until government is on auto pilot and these illegal money changers will control foreign currency and force government to acquire it from them,” he said.
Chinamasa said the FIU will be given operational independence so that they are not subject to day-to-day directions of the central bank.
He said the issue of illegal money changers was already dealt with in the Bank Use Promotions Act.