The draft laws; one establishing a financial intelligence centre and another on prevention, detection of money laundering, financing terrorism or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—were tabled before parliament by Uwera Claudine, Minister of State in charge of Economic Planning at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
Both bills seek to tackle money laundering – a financial crime that involves generating money from criminal activities such as drug trafficking or terrorist funding.
The Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies approved the relevance of the two bills.
Uwera said that the draft law on prevention, detection of money laundering, financing terrorism or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction comes to replace the law on prevention and punishment of money laundering and terrorism financing which was enacted on August 31, 2018.
The purpose, she said, is to cover the gaps identified after comparing the law in force against international standards.
“The law will strengthen our financial sector and accelerate plans to make the country an international financial centre,” she said.
The current law, she said, does not punish the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and lacks essential provisions on preventing money laundering and supporting terrorism.
In addition, it lacks the requirements needed to detect suspicious client [such as in bank], inspecting an asset owner in order to ascertain whether they obtained assets lawfully or not.
“Also, the punishments are very lenient compared to the criminal act,” she said.
Another point which she said is important is that article 4 of the law of 2018 provides that financial intelligence is done by a unit in charge of another institution in charge of fighting money laundering and financing terrorism.
It also provides that the responsibilities and operations of that unit are determined by the prime Minister’s Order, which also determines the institution in which such unit should be.
“This is contradicting with the establishment of the special centre which is independent in its operations as experts advised,” Uwera said.
Uwera told lawmakers that due to its mission, the government has decided to establish the Financial Intelligence Centre as an independent body as opposed to a centre attached to the central bank.
Some MPs said that the bill, once enacted, should be able to contribute effectively to recover the assets from illicit owners, and those funding terrorism contending that there should be tougher punishments imposed on the culprits in order to deter them.
MP Diogene Bitunguramye said; “The parliamentary committee which will scrutinize the law should ensure that it considers mechanisms through which the assets that the guilty party accumulated over time are accessed and seized from them because the aim is to weaken them.”