Money launderers will now pay heavily after Uganda's Parliament passed the Anti-Money Laundering Bill into law yesterday, making the practice criminal.
Persons who convert, transfer or transport property suspected to be proceeds from crime, or assist another person to benefit from such transactions are liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years or a fine not exceeding sh2b or both punishments.
The Bill now awaits Presidential assent which must be done within 30 days.
The new law criminalises money laundering and provides for specific measures to detect and deter money laundering and to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of money laundering offences.
Several law makers attempted in vain to insert a clause which would make it possible to also prosecute money launderers who committed the offence before the law was passed.
Intervening after a long argument between Aruu County MP Odonga Otto and finance state minister Matia Kasaija, the Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanya ruled that it was not possible to pass laws retrospectively as the Constitution forbids it.
MPs from both the opposition and NRM sides managed to compel Kasaija to delete clause 138 which sought to create a National Anti-Money Laundering Taskforce, which they considered a duplication of the roles of the Financial Intelligence Authority.
Reacting to the passing of the Bill, the shadow minister for constitutional affairs, Medard Lubega Ssegona said: "It will help us deal with the common thieves, especially the government officials. It will help us confiscate property from all ill-gotten money."
Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa, who was among those who passionately contributed to the Bill, said: "The law will enable us to detect dirty money flowing into and out of our economy. But of course without the political will, we shall not achieve much in curbing this crime."
Kasaija stated: "It is good we have passed this law. We have been the only country in the region that had not passed it.