By Bennie Mundando

In 2019, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) continued to observe a trend in which the Gatekeepers’ services were exploited for illegal activities. In the case of some identified accountants, this included use of falsified financial statements to place funds in offshore centers and to tender for public procurement projects.

Gatekeepers are professionals such as lawyers, notaries, accountants, investment advisors, and trust and company service providers who assist in transactions involving the movement of money, and are deemed to have a particular role in identifying, preventing, and reporting money laundering.

Some countries impose due diligence requirements on gatekeepers that are similar to those of financial institutions.

But according to the FIC trends report for 2019, bank accounts for some identified law firms and their clients are used to launder proceeds of crime.

The Centre says it has collaborated with professional bodies such as the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ and the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) with a view to improve the Ant-Money Laundering (AML) framework among their membership.

It says this has resulted in members requesting for training to build capacity and also led to signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ZICA in 2019 and the designation of compliance officers by some of the reporting entities supervised by the two professional bodies.

It has recommended that LAZ and ZICA should effectively supervise lawyers and accountants for AML and that Financial service providers, in particular banks, should effectively monitor accounts and transactions by conducting enhanced due diligence on high-risk customers in the Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBP) sector.

“The 2019 Trends Report has highlighted pertinent recommendations that require adoption and implementation by LEAS and other stakeholders. It is our considered view that in order to effectively fight money laundering and other financial crimes, stakeholders in the value chain should collaborate in the exchange of information, investigations, prosecutions and forfeiture of proceeds of crime.

“The FIC looks forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure that our financial system is not abused by perpetrators of crime,” reads the conclusion on the report.

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