Financial Intelligence Authority Executive Director Sydney Asubo has revealed that Uganda is at risk of being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) if the government fails to address money laundering by May 2022.
Asubo, who was appearing before the Finance Committee, said that the FATF maintains a watch list of countries that have significant deficiencies in combating money laundering categorized in the gray list and the black list.
Asubo said the consequences are dire because the impact of being on the gray list means the world is aware that the country faces challenges in tackling money laundering.
“Some people have already started to feel the impact, especially international transactions that would take a day or two now take a week or two. That scrutiny process is beyond normal scrutiny,” he said.
Asubo said that while the FIA has largely played its part in meeting the requirements, other ministries, departments and agencies are falling behind, including those reporting to the Ministries of Finance, Home Affairs and Justice.
“I am pleased to report that all the things that the FIA was supposed to do have been done. The obligation to meet those requirements does not rest with the FIA alone,” he said.
He said that in the 2020/2021 financial year, the authority received and analyzed 2,419 suspicious transaction reports (STRs).
“Of the 2,419 STRs received and analyzed, 76 intelligence reports were generated and disseminated to various law enforcement agencies for further investigation,” Asubo said.
However, he urged lawmakers to allocate Shs 12.2 billion to address unfunded priorities, including staffing, information and communication technology and public awareness, among others, to enable the Authority to carry out its mandate. .
According to the Budget Framework Document (BFP) for the fiscal year 2022/2023, Shs16.7 billion has been allocated to the authority.
“Sh16.7bn means we won’t be able to recruit and yet the authority’s mandate is huge compared to the current level of staffing. The volume of work is large and the backlog is starting to pile up,” Asubo said.
To meet the required staffing level, Asubo said, the authority requires Shs2.5 billion.
“Right now we are 43 employees, against the approved structure of 83 for the parent company,” he said.
“ICTs are very critical because if we don’t safeguard our systems, there will be chaos in this country. The information we hold is highly confidential and if the people who provide us with this information are nervous about the security of the information, they may be reluctant to share it,” Asubo said.
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