Finance Minister Iipumbu has given his fellow parliamentarians 15 days to prioritise relevant amendments and to table new laws to address the country’s technical deficiency to fight financial crimes.
Shiimi called for the highest political commitment, despite an observed culture of dragging bills and amendments.
He gave his fellow colleagues the ultimatum when he introduced the Financial Intelligence Amendment Bill in parliament this week.
The ultimatum is based on the fact that the country has only till October 2023 to meet the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and the Financial Action Task Force technical compliance recommendations.
The recommendations are included in the country’s Mutual Evaluation Report which highlighted certain weaknesses in the country’s Ant-Money laundry, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation (AML/CFT/P) policies and regulatory regime.
Namibia was now placed in what is referred to as the observation period (12 months) to show the global watchdogs that they have amended and proposed laws that will strengthen its systems, and institutions to combat financial crimes, proliferation and funding terrorists.
“During this 12-month period, Namibia is expected to amend or introduce new laws to increase the low rating obtained for technical compliances,”Iipumbu motivated.
If Namibia fails to show convincing results about their regulatory overhaul then the country will be red-flagged or greylisted and the treasury updated.
This is a move that can cripple the country through various channels given its connectedness to the global economy and various payment systems.
Shiimi told his fellow policymakers that “should Namibia not be able to demonstrate sufficient progress at the end of the 12-month period the country may be greylisted.”
According to Minister Iipumbu, the greylisting could cause harm to the country’s overall output, derail foreign direct investments, and burden the bankers with due diligence administration.
He said that if the country gets to be put in the risky category in terms of money laundering and others, it will lose about 7% of national output.
Shiimi, as the overseer of the country’s financial systems, has submitted the amendment to one of the critical laws is the Financial Intelligence Bill.
The bill aims to secure operational independence and autonomy of the country’s financial watchdog, the Financial Intelligence Centre, and also its board.
The amendments are also going to ask more from accountable institutions in terms of scrutiny and due diligence and also to establish risk management and monitoring systems.
The amendments will also extend the watchful eyes of the Financial Intelligence Centre to non-profit organisations to ensure they are not used as vehicles for laundering money and funding activities that are internationally regarded as illegal.
At the same time, more scrutiny will also be inserted for persons who are regarded as influential when certain transactions are being made.
While certain provisions are going to be deleted in order to avoid duplications with other laws, nine other laws are also going to be amended, and three new bills will be drafted for the country to satisfy the FATF conditions.
The Banking Institutions and Payment System Bill will also be amended as part of the regulatory overhaul submitted.
Shiimi told his colleagues that they have to prioritise the amendments and come up with new bills by 30 June 2023.
Reminding them that if they get greylisted it will affect the country’s green hydrogen ambitions that they just inked, and the expected oil and gas investments.
Shiimi said the policymakers should demonstrate the highest political will if the country is to address the identified Mutual Review Report deficiencies. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org