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AfricaMoney | August 21, 2017

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Money laundering happens if we drop our guard

Money laundering happens if we drop our guard, cautions BLC Chambers

Tax evasion,  BLC Associates & Ltd Senior Counsel and Managing Partner Iqbal Rajahbalee mentioned, is one of the crimes generating money laundering. (Image: Marie-Lorry Coret)

Mauritius’ leading law firm, BLC Chambers, organized a full-day workshop on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) issues in Securities Market and Investment Funds. It was held yesterday October 28, 2014 in front of representatives of the financial sector at Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, Port Louis.

Focused on money laundering, the speakers were: Iqbal Rajahbalee, BLC Associates & Ltd Senior Counsel and Managing Partner;Kamlesh Ramdhary, assistant director at Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU); David Hotte, Senior Consultant at BLC Chambers; and Clairette Ah-Hen, Chief Executive Officer at Financial Services Commission (FSC).

The workshop spun around several points such as the law of anti-money laundering in Mauritius as well as the reasons for which both the security and investment sectors are concerned. The target audience being investment business area, i.e. stockbrokers, investment advisors, custodians and others dealing with the securities industry.

The objective behind the workshop was to get people from the same sector to exchange their experience in order to bridge discussion on this issue and to assess solution instead of working in isolation.

In his key address, Iqbal Rajahbalee stated that it is important to address the different segments of the industry differently.

“A lot of the money laundering offence happens not because we have not adopted the measures but we have dropped our guard. We have been brought in a zone of comfort and we do not have that critical mindset to look critically at the business transaction proposals,” he said.

According to Iqbal Rajahbalee, stockbrokers and securities industry have always operated on a dosage of trust. The financial sector, as a whole, relies on trust because it has a code of ethics and is regulated.

He pointed out that lack of transparency in a project often hides corruption.

Tax evasion, Rajahbalee mentioned, is one of the crimes generating money laundering and as Mauritius is small in size, it might not be difficult to know more about someone’s profile in order to detect whether he or she is implicated in financial crime.

On behalf of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Kamlesh Ramdhary discussed all activities performed at the FIU as well as work related to the security and investment sectors.

He mentioned the negative effects of money laundering, such as increase in crime, damage to the reputation of a jurisdiction, weakened financial institutions, and compromised private sector investment.

Kamlesh Ramdhary brought up the chains of responsibilities of institutional AML/CFT framework in Mauritius, which are: prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution, deterrence, and confiscation.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), he pointed out, estimates that $3 trillion is laundered annually worldwide.

Ramdhary ended on the note that FIU Mauritius is the representative for the African FIUs on the Egmont committee and the FIU shall be the central agency in Mauritius responsible for receiving, requesting, analyzing and disseminating to the investigatory and supervisory authorities disclosures of information.

David Hotte advised all bankers, stockbrokers and those who are in the investment fund to have recourse to the FIU in case they are in a difficult situation as they are in a closed environment with high regulation.

In the afternoon, there were practical and operational cases on how to establish systems and how to declare suspicious cases.

At the end of the day, the FSC in the person of Clairette Ah-Hen presented all activities performed at the level of the organisation in all sectors.

- By Marie-Lorry Coret

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