THE Ministry of Finance this week tabled before parliament a money-laundering and proceeds of crime draft law proposing hefty fines of M25 million or 25 years in jail and M100 million for individuals and companies convicted of money laundering and funding terrorism.
The Money-laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill 2016 seeks to ensure the country’s legal and institutional framework is capable of implementing measures to fight money-laundering and terrorist financing and comply with mandatory international standards.
The Bill also seeks to provide the Lesotho Revenue Authority, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) and Lesotho Mounted Police Services with powers to investigate suspected money-laundering and terrorist financing offences.
Previously, only the DCEO had the powers to investigate such cases.
Under the Lesotho Penal Code Act 2010, conspiracy to cause serious intimidation to the population, seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of the country, damage to government or international organizations’ property, and kidnapping, are some of the crimes classified as acts of terrorism.
Meanwhile, the draft law further wants institutions such as the Financial Intelligence Unit, Central Bank of Lesotho, Law Society of Lesotho, Lesotho Institute of Accountants to supervise and monitor compliance of organisations under their control “with obligations arising out of the Money laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, its regulations and guidelines and directive made pursuant to it”.
Money laundering is the generic term used to describe the process by which criminals disguise the original ownership and control of proceeds of crime by making them appear to have come from a legitimate source.