‘Trust accounts linked to money-laundering activities’

FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa has disclosed that several trust accounts were being investigated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) financial intelligence unit, amid suspicion that they were involved in money-laundering activities.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa

In a ministerial statement issued last week, Chinamasa said the RBZ’s probe team had received a total of 474 suspicious transaction reports involving trust accounts run by professional bodies.

He said this was a 2,5% increase in the number of suspicious cases reported during the same period in 2015.

“Over this period, 80% of the suspicious transaction reports were lodged by the banks, with money transfer agencies and an insurance company accounting for the remaining 20%,” Chinamasa said.

“The concern by the financial action taskforce is that sometimes money-laundering is done through trust accounts of professional bodies.”

The Finance minister said non-financial businesses such as the real estate sector, casinos, the legal profession, chartered accountants and several other service providers were lagging behind in implementing the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financial Terrorism safeguards, although the sectors were at high risk.

“There is need for amendment of the law to allow beneficiary information to be obtained as well as introduce proportionate, dissuasive and effective sanctions against non-profit organisations found to be aligned to any terrorist activity,” Chinamasa said.

“I shall pursue the strengthening of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act by an amendment inserting a specific requirement for financial institutions to put in place risk-based systems and controls that would determine the circumstances under which a customer may utilise a business relationship or carry out a transaction prior to verification of their identity.”

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