Following the release of the 2017 National Risk Assessment Report, the Ministry of lands together with financial intelligence Authority (FIA) brought together all stake holders in the real estate business as well as land Registrars at various levels to devise means on how to combat money laundering in the country.
The report highlighted the Real estate as one of the areas where laundered money is being hidden or invested.
The Executive Director of FIA Mr. Sydney Asubo in his message delivered by Amanyire Odur the Director in charge of operations in FIA, asked the land Registrars to be more vigilant especially when registering land title because most of the launderers use other people’s names to hide their wealth.
He pointed out that money Laundering is on the rise internationally whereby the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that countries lose 5% of the GDP to launderers
“Money Laundering has grown worldwide where and Uganda loses 5 trillion shillings annually from its GDP as a result of this practice
The permanent secretary for ministry of lands in his opening remarks read by Richard Juuko, the undersecretary Finance and administration in the ministry pointed out that it’s only through team work that such vices can be eradicated out of the country.
“Real estate sector is prune to money Laundering because currently, there is no legal frame work to regulate the business.”
He added that they have been able to mobilize various key players to form associations as they await for the Policy to be enacted.
Samuel Wandera, Director for international relations FIA said that there is need to combat this vice because it distorts the economy by reducing tax revenue, damaging financial systems and undermines rule of law in countries where Launderers are more wealthier the countries’ economy.
Wandera advised all Registrars to report to them any suspicious land transaction so that they can go ahead and do thorough investigations on the matter.
“Criminals or corrupt government officials may buy real estate using a third party or a family member with no criminal record as the legal owner.
Property is either purchased on their behalf or proceeds of crime are deposited on their accounts to make a purchase,” Wandera on how launderers operate.
Money Laundering is the act where criminals disguise proceeds generated from criminal activities to appear legitimate by concealing its illegal origin and thus converting into legitimate funds or Assets
It involves Drug trafficking, wildlife crimes, human trafficking, smuggling, robbery, fraud, Corruption, embezzlement, illegal arms sale and counterfeiting.
The Anti money Laundering Act 2013 says that any person convicted of any offence of Laundering is liable to 5 to 15 years imprisonment or to a fine of billions of shillings.