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97 Companies Fined As Much As 300 000 Over Participation In Or Aiding Illicit Transactions

Ninety-seven (97) companies have been fined as much as US$300 000 by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for offences including neglecting to undertake money laundering assessment risks.

The entities fall under the designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs) and include real estate agents, corporate trusts, accounting and auditing firms, law firms, car dealers and casino operators.

However, the real estate sector, at 72, has the highest number of sanctioned companies, followed by dealers in precious stones and precious metals.

FIU director-general Mr Oliver Chiperesa told The Sunday News that the DNFBPs have been advised to put in place measures to prevent illicit transactions. He said:

In the last three weeks we have sent out penalty letters to 97 entities or the so-called designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs).

There are six categories of DNFBPs, the so-called professional gatekeepers who are required to implement measures to help prevent the entry of illicit proceeds into the financial system. The six categories are law firms, accounting firms, estate agents, casinos, precious stone and precious metal dealers, car dealers and trust and corporate service providers (company and trust formation/management agents). They have not been adhering to their statutory obligations under the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.

Chiperesa said the regulatory approach in terms of fighting money laundering and terrorism financing has been focusing on banks and other non-bank financial institutions.

He added that there has been a shift in the way the criminals have been working as they have increasingly made use of and abused the other designated professions to mask and give credibility to their illegal transactions.

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