Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday passed the first reading of a government bill amending the 2007 law which set up the Financial Intelligence Office (GIFIM), in order to strengthen GIFIM's anti-terrorist role.
The government argues that the bill simply follows international norms to fight money-laundering, the financing of terrorism and other organised transnational crime. The bill defines GIFIM's task as to prevent the use of the Mozambican financial system, and any other sectors of economic activity, in such crimes.
GIFIM must collect and analyse information on suspicious economic or financial operations that might indicate money laundering, the financing of terrorism or connected crimes, and collaborate with law enforcement agencies in identifying funds and assets resulting from transnational organised crime.
The Office must also monitor implementation of sanctions decreed by the United Nations Security Council. This has become particularly relevant in the light of recent claims that Mozambican entities are violating UN sanctions against North Korea.
When there is sufficient evidence of money laundering or financing of terrorism, GIFIM must immediately call on the Public Prosecutor's Office to suspend the operations in question, and initiate criminal proceedings.
Introducing the bill, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Adriano Maleiane, said the government was bringing the law on GIFIM into line with various UN conventions and with recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The FATF is an intergovernmental body, set up in 1989, by the G7 group of most industrialised nations in order to draw up norms for fighting such crimes as money laundering, nuclear proliferation and the financing of terrorism. These norms have now become a guide for all UN member states, each of which is supposed to set up its own financial intelligence unit.
GIFIM was thus part of an international anti-terrorist and anti-money laundering system, and as such it could not be out of step with the regularly revised FATF norms and standards.
The amended law, Maleiane explained, arose from FATF assessment of the Mozambican legislation. “We were assessed and we were told what changes we need to make”, he said.
He warned that there could be serious consequences if the law was not amended in line with the international norms - Mozambique could be cut off from the international money transfer system.
Nonetheless, opposition deputies opposed the bill. Both the rebel movement Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) demanded that the Assembly should elect members to the GIFIM Coordination Council, which the bill envisages as an entirely governmental body, chaired by the Prime Minister.
MDM deputy Geraldo de Carvalho claimed that GIFIM would be “subordinate to the government” and therefore “not independent”.
In vain did Maleiane argue that GIFIM is a technical, not a political, body. All opposition deputies voted against the bill.
It was the overall majority enjoyed by the ruling Frelimo Party which ensured the passage of the bill by 135 votes to 63.