8 June 2017

Botswana: Act Saves State Millions

Gaborone — Money exceeding P20 million has either been restrained or awarded to the state since the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act (PICA) came into operation in January 2015, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Mr Eric Molale said Tuesday.

PICA was passed by Parliament in August 2014 to deprive criminals of their illicitly gained profits by introducing new provisions on non-conviction based asset recovery brought through civil forfeiture, civil penalty and administrative forfeiture applications which were absent in the previous legislation.

Mr Molale told a 2017 annual general meeting of the Asset Recovery Inter-Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA) in Phakalane that proceeds made through application of the PICA legislation would in turn be used to further combat various forms of organised crime through capacity building for law enforcement agencies.

He also said proceeds would assist in compensating crime victims and support other projects developed to deprive criminals of crime proceeds.

"Proceeds will also render assistance to prescribed persons, prescribed investigators, the office of the receiver, the Financial Intelligence Agency, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Law Enforcement Agencies," he said.

Thus, he urged law enforcement agencies to provide their investigators with specialised training around complex criminal offences.

He indicated that specialised training around complex criminal offences incuding money laundering, racketeering, cyber-crime, terrorist financing, human and drug trafficking remained critical, hence the need for well-coordinated investigations by all stakeholders.

He added that prosecutors also required specialised training and mentoring in the new provisions of PICA which he said were more civil in nature and different from the day to day prosecution of common criminal offences.

Mr Molale thus commended the DPP for training more than 50 police officers on PICA as well as Asset Tracing and Freezing.

"I am informed that the regulations to PICA are still being drafted and currently with the Attorney General wherein there will also be provision for establishment of Asset Tracing Units, within law enforcement agencies, which complement the Asset Forfeiture Unit at the Directorate of Public Prosecutions," he said.

He also commended ARINSA member states for increasing their effectiveness in depriving criminals of illegal proceeds from criminal activities.

Meanwhile, PICA was established with 10 member states in 2009 through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Programme Against Money Laundering initiative as a working group of asset recovery practitioners, including investigators and practitioners.

Membership has now increased to 12 countries.

Further, Mr Molale urged ARINSA members to develop regulatory framework for asset management. On the other hand, DPP director, Advocate Abram Keetshabe said response to sophisticated crime required all crime fighting agencies in the region to work together. ARINSA, he said therefore played an important role of facilitating networking between agencies.

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