FIA Director resigns from top post

The Director of Botswana’s Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) Jackson Madzima has resigned from the agency’s top post, Botswana Guardian reveals.The resignation comes merely a year after the man was head hunted into the secretive agency.

Finance Minister Kenneth Mathambo appointed Madzima FIA director on 1st October 2010. Madzima handed his resignation at the end of last year. Madzima had been the Acting FIA director for a while, before he was confirmed to the position. Initially the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) employed him as Senior Assistant Director-Training and Development.

Madzima has also served as a Researcher at Institute for Security Studies, and a Staff Officer Operations at Botswana Police. Previously he worked as Regional Specialised Officer - Financial and Hi-tech Crimes at International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) - Sub Regional Bureau.Madzima could not shed light into why he quit his position so suddenly. “The decision is fuelled by my personal reasons which I cannot reveal to you,” he told Botswana Guardian Tuesday.

Madzima’s key responsibilities were to roll out FIA key strategic areas and to raise awareness on all issues relevant to the Agency. He was also in charge of developing capacity, identifying and stamping out syndicates who will be using Botswana’s financial systems to engage in illegal activities such as money laundering. His resignation coincides with the withdrawal of services by the United States Department of Treasury Resident Advisor to Botswana, effective December 20 last year.

However, both Madzima and Solomon Sekwakwa, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, denied any link between Madzima’s resignation and the US treasury resident advisor. The US Department of Treasury resident advisor dumped Botswana citing poor cooperation and communication from Botswana government.

On the 20th December last year, Embassy of the United States wrote a letter to Minister Mathambo, also copied to Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Presidential Affairs Minister Mokgweetsi Masisi, Foreign Affairs Minister Phandu Skelemani and the FIA Director Madzima, informing them of the withdrawal of their services. The letter stated that the decision was taken after the Ministry of Finance failed, despite repeated requests to issue regulations that would ensure that Botswana’s FIA reviews all suspicious transaction reports (STR).

Sekwakwa confirmed that indeed the US Treasury Department resident advisor had quit, saying that they cited reasons of delay on their part to issue the regulations that would allow the provisions of STRs to FIA. Botswana and the US Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) have been working together since 2010, with the OTA providing Botswana with resident advisor support to enhance Botswana’s efforts to establish a robust anti-money laundering/combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.

The OTA also assisted Botswana set up the FIA in 2009, after the diamond rich economy was found to be non-compliant with certain Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards. The US Embassy letter further stated that progress on the significant AML/CFT objectives have since been slow, a serious concern by the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), which placed Botswana under enhanced monitoring.

“The ESAAMLG highlighted several continued deficiencies, including in the areas of anti-terrorism legislation, anti-money laundering laws that provide for civil forfeiture and other financial institutions,” read the US Embassy letter, saying the finance ministry has the power to issue regulations that would allow for the provision of STR to the FIA, even though anti-terrorism legislation has to pass through parliament, which is time consuming.

However, although Sekwakwa admitted that the process was delayed, he said the US gave them less time, with the set deadline having expired by December 3rd. “We could have however completed the request by January this year,” said the Finance PS. Further Sekwakwa said the reason why they failed to meet the deadline was because of limited capacity on the ministry’s part, which delayed progress.

However, although Sekwakwa admitted that the withdrawal of the US assistance would affect them, he stressed that they would also complete what they had begun. “It is a pity because we had done an impressive progress together for the past two years,” he said. Sekwakwa said, with all these regulations and the Anti-terrorism Act being new locally, it would be a long process before all is settled.

With money laundering and financial terrorism spreading its wings worldwide, Sekwakwa said the country is preparing itself to handle such issues when they become a serious problem. Currently the Bank of Botswana handles such issues, which are not a serious problem according to Sekwakwa.

Last modified on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 16:12

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