Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr Mustapha Mkulo

The National Assembly here passed the Anti Money Laundering (Amendment) Act of 2012 that aims at intensifying the fight against capital flight and financing of terrorism activities.

Finance Minister Mustafa Mkulo told the house while winding up the debate on the legislation on Friday that the ministry would soon revise regulations of the Anti Money Laundering Act of 2006 to cope with the new law.

“There are those who have been arguing that Anti Money Laundering Act was being enforced without regulations but the truth is that regulations were formulated in 2007. However, they will be reviewed in line with the new legislation,” Mr Mkulo said.

The Minister was also against proposals put forward by some legislators that the new law should specify the maximum amount of money that a person has to declare while crossing border.

“There is no need of having a fixed amount in the law due to flexibility of the economy. The amount will be stipulated only in the regulations,” he explained.

Speaking earlier, Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Pereira Ame Silima said proposals in the bill were prompted by challenges faced during the implementation of the Anti Money Laundering Act of 2006.

“We are highly optimistic that the new law will go a long way in addressing challenges that were experienced during implementation of the previous legislation,” the deputy minister said.

Contributing to the debate, Ms Amina Abdallah Amour (Special Seats-CUF) expressed concern about reports that large sums of money had illegally entered the country and had been transferred abroad.The MP was also not impressed with the punishment set by the law to offenders, saying it was too soft. The law provides that an offender pay a fine not exceeding 500m/- and not less than 100m/-or a sentence of not more that three years in prison.

The Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Economy urged the government to put in place regulations for smooth enforcement of the new Act.The committee’s Chairman, Dr Abdallah Kigoda (Handeni-CCM), said such regulations should set maximum amount of money for a foreigner or any other Tanzanian citizen is allowed to declare when leaving or entering the country.

“Lack of the regulations gives impression that one is currently able to take out of the country large sums of money he/she wishes, this is unhealthy for the country’s economy. “The Bank of Tanzania should also work to ensure it enforces financial regulations to prevent capital flight,” said the seasoned politician who once served as Minister of Finance.

Dr Kigoda made the remarks while delivering the views of his committee on the proposed Anti Money Laundering (Amendment) Act of 2012 in the National Assembly on Saturday.Tabling the bill in the house on Friday, Mr Mkulo said the amendments seek to improve the Anti Money Laundering Act of 2006.

The legislation led to the establishment of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and conditions for commercial banks and other financial institutions to report any suspicious transactions to the FIU.”The law also provided for establishment for a national committee of anti-money laundering experts from Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. Under the law, offences and penalties for such misdeeds are spelt out,” Mr Mkulo told the National Assembly.

According to Minister Mkulo, the proposed law will also increase accountability among financial institutions on issuing suspicious transaction reports to the FIU.”We also want to add on the number of reporting persons from just financial institutions to pension fund managers, securities market intermediaries, financial leasing entities and housing and financing companies among others,” Mr Mkulo said.

Presenting view of the opposition, Ms Christine Lissu Mughwai (Special Seats-CHADEMA), proposed $10,000 should be set as maximum amount of money that one has to declare when leaving or entering the country.”Export trade and foreign exchange are the major areas where money launderers channel their money, unless we have strict enforcement the law will be meaningless,” he said.

Meanwhile CHRISTOPHER MAJALIWA reports from Dodoma that MUHAMBWE MP, Mr Felix Mkosamali (NCCR-Mageuzi) and some residents of Dodoma have expressed concerns over the Anti-Money Laundering Act amended on Friday saying it would facilitate loopholes for corruption.In a survey carried out yesterday by ‘Sunday News’,  Mr  Mkosamali wondered the decision reached by the Assembly to endorse the bill asserting that it was the weakest ever seen in the country as some of the section were more unclear.

He pointed out the penalty proposed in the Act for a person who contravenes any provision in the act as one of the main factors which are likely to speed up corruption and money laundering in the country. “The act says that in case of individual, fine ranges from 100m/- to 500m/- or imprisonment for term not exceeding three years – this will not put off money laundering in the country, the penalty was supposed to be stern and unsympathetic,” the MP argued.

He also doubted on the procedures to be followed before putting on trial a person from a foreign country who engaged in money laundering in the country saying Tanzanian money launderers would thus ally with foreigners who according to the acts their prosecution must be assented by the Director for Public Prosecutions (DPP).

“Allowing DPP alone as an individual to assent prosecution of foreign launderer is another problem, for his personal interest, may be after being bribed the DPP can decline to assent the prosecution,” he said remaining optimistic that under this Act, no any foreign money launderer was going to face prosecution.

By ALVAR MWAKYUSA, Tanzania Daily News

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