Comply with financial act or face consequences
Accountable institutions, which include banks, have until Saturday to comply with the regulations of the Financial Intelligence Act, 2007 or face the consequences.
Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugogelwa-Amadhila enacted the Financial Intelligence Act (FIA), 2007 (Act No 3 of 2007) on 5 May 2009 to create a legal framework as a means of combating money laundering and other organised financial crimes in Namibia.
The Financial Intelligence Centre is the functional unit within the Bank of Namibia to which the Governor has delegated the powers, functions and obligations of the Bank under the Act.
The use of financial institutions to launder money has become a significant problem in the worldwide economy and has caused great alarm in the global community. As a result, stricter laws for money laundering have emerged throughout the world. The Financial Intelligence Centre protects the financial systems against money laundering activities and combat terrorist funding by producing analytic products that will incorporate analysis of relevant classified information.
According to the Bank of Namibia, all accountable institutions, as identified by the Financial Intelligence Act, were given three years from the date on which the FIA came into operation (which is 5 May 2009) to identify the clients they already had in their books as of that date. This 3-year period will run out on 4 May 2012. This means that all clients belonging to any accountable institutions should register to be identified with their respective institutions by providing their identification and proof of income in order for the institutions to obtain certain information and keep a record of it. Failure to provide documents will result in compulsory restriction of accounts.
Accountable institutions are not allowed to carry on a business relationship with a client that has not been identified in terms of the FIA and Regulations. They will be breaking the law should they continue business relationships with clients that have not been identified by 5 May 2012.
Financial Institutions such as Bank Windhoek and Nedbank have set up communications procedures to inform their clients on the Financial Intelligence Act. According to Almarie Bartsch, chief compliance officer at Bank Windhoek, the bank started informing its clients as far back as 2009 through various communication tools such as client statements, client newsletters, the bank’s website, the popular Money Matters newspaper column and booklets that were handed out to clients at all 52 branches and agencies countrywide.
In order to meet its legal obligation, Bank Windhoek has compiled an Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Programme and together with the Anti-Money Laundering Policy and various procedures compiled to give effect to the requirements of the Act and apply to all areas of the operation the bank is also carrying out an internal verification process to ensure that all clients are FIA compliant.