Malawi Becoming A Haven for Money Launderers

Malawi has quickly become a haven for illegal financial crime to take place.  Between January and November 2017, the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) exposed 63 illicit transactions worth approximately US $7.4 million.  The FIA director, Atuweni-Juwayeyi Agbermodji, detailed the laundering scheme, attributing the crime to a lack of oversight and regulation.  The criminals laundered the funds using forged identification documents and made several transactions with multiple accounts and banks.

Lowani Mtonga, an economic and political commentator, discussed that offenders get away with the illegal activity by disguising themselves as foreign investors.  This allows them to use corruption within banks to their advantage and dodge punishment and action that would have been taken.  This issue illustrates neglect on the part of state organizations such as the Reserve Bank of Malawi, the Malawi Revenue Authority, the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Financial Intelligence Authority, and the Malawi Police Service.

The government’s lack of action and transparency is causing conspiracy to arise.  Mtonga questions why the government is not prosecuting the perpetrators of the offenses and what they have to fear.  Financial crime is increasing in Malawi and anti-money laundering (AML) measures need to be taken by both businesses and the government to curb it.  Tactics for better oversight include, Know Your Customer (KYC) and other identification systems, stronger implementation of laws and stricter enforcement, along with other compliance technology that can tackle potential threats.

The president of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, is up for reelection in 2019 and has noted his belief that Malawi is on the right trajectory economically.  According to Mutharika, the country provides easy access for cross border trade and economic stimulation.  However, with this ease comes a greater need for AML regulations, which the government is not implementing at the level it should be.


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