Banks tipped on money laundering, graft fight

Financial institutions have been urged to strengthen their reporting and governance systems as some of the ways to fight against illicit activities, including money laundering and graft. Nikos Passas, from the Institute for Security and Public Policy at North Eastern University in the US, said money launderers and corrupt individuals always take advantage of weak systems to conduct their illegal businesses.

Financial institutions have been urged to strengthen their reporting and governance systems as some of the ways to fight against illicit activities, including money laundering and graft.

Nikos Passas, from the Institute for Security and Public Policy at North Eastern University in the US, said money launderers and corrupt individuals always take advantage of weak systems to conduct their illegal businesses.

 

Passas advised financial institutions to always conduct regular risk assessment, and track suspicious customer transactions as well as precautionary measures like reporting such activities to responsible agencies and freezing the questionable accounts.

 

“Always cross-check whenever you find huge amounts of money on accounts whose source can’t be traced,” she says.

 

Such kind of deposits could be the sign of theft and corruption or money laundering by criminal groups, the expert added.

Passas was speaking at a two-day seminar organised by Basel Institute on Governance Crime in collaboration with the Office of the Ombudsman last week in Kigali. The meeting attracted commercial bank auditors, commercial lawyers, and other sector experts.

She said it is important that banks hire qualified personnel and improve their capacity to safeguard themselves against fraudsters and other financial criminal activities.

She noted that criminals take advantage of every loophole to conduct their illicit businesses and transfers, adding that today’s criminals are getting more sophisticated which calls for tighter structures.

She cautioned banks that criminals like fraudsters hide behind political figures to cover their illegal activities.

This is why it is essential that banks get involved in the fight against corruption, fraud and money laundering, adding that it requires collective efforts to eradicate these vices.

Meanwhile, Scarlet Wannenwetsch, the project associate at Basel Institute on Governance, called on government to be keen on the intra-company activities.

She said enforcing disclosure regulations is also crucial to fight graft and fraud, noting that once tenders and procurement contracts are not open to public scrutiny or publicised, this promotes corruption as such process is not transparent.

The expert added that ensuring accountable and transparency systems and practices help limit corruption and other vices like money laundering.

Athanase Gatera, from corruption and prevention Unit at the Office of Ombudsman, said the efforts are always limited to lack of concrete evidence, adding that advances in technology have complicated the fight against graft as criminals have become more sophisticated.

He, however, lauded the move by Rwanda to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption, as well as being on top of fighting corruption.

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