Minister Lamola emphasises SA’s lead in combating money laundering

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Justice Minister Ronald Lamola says it is important for the authorities to try and be ahead of the criminals in the fight against money laundering and other transnational crimes.

He says the government has taken measures in this regard by, among others, drafting legislation to make the Investigative Directorate of the National Prosecuting Authority permanent.

He was speaking at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Office for Southern Africa’s Anti-Money Laundering Week 2024 conference in Cape Town.

South Africa found itself on the back foot in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing when it was greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force last year. This was because of its inadequate legislative measures to fight these crimes.

Minister Lamola is satisfied that the country has done enough to address these concerns. One of these measures is the steps taken to fight illegal mining.

He says the police are now hitting hard against those involved. “The biggest concern has been that this is also affecting communities in the areas where illegal mining is being conducted. Communities find themselves having to duck bullets when the gangs and groups in the illegal mining sector are fighting. We are glad that the Asset Forfeiture Unit says some of the assets of the kingpins in the space have been seized.”

The Minister welcomes the presence of crime-fighting experts from all over South Africa, the region, and the world.

“What is becoming clearer and clearer to the world is that there is no institution that can fight transnational organised crime alone. We need two hands. We need the same level of sophistication to respond to transnational organised crime with the same level with which it is committed.”

Programme Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Oliver Gadney, also praises the country’s work to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

“In recent years, South Africa has managed to recover billions of Rand from the proceeds of crime. Through the colour burst development, national initiatives were financed, such as shelters for women and children, the anti-corruption court as well as supporting law enforcement. This is by no means an exhaustive list and I wish to congratulate South Africa on its achievements as it’s as a leading country in the region and in fact, globally in this regard.”

The National Prosecuting Authority is one of several law enforcement agencies taking part in this five-day conference. It says it is important for the country to be able to combat illicit financial flow as they threaten the stability of the country.

“We know the harm that’s created by illicit financial flows. Corruption and money laundering fuel the maladministration of public funds. This endangers the stability and security of society and increases economic harm in a country,” says Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba.

The conference is taking place over five days and will discuss topics such as countering the financing of terrorism, financial disruption training on minerals-related crimes, tracing of and investigations involving virtual assets transactions, and a private sector dialogue on the disruption of financial crimes related to the environment in Southern Africa.