The Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that aims at improving the working relationship between the two institutions in fighting financial crimes.
The signing of the MoU follows new responsibilities the FIA now has due to the change of law governing the mandate of the FIA, from the Money Laundering Proceeds of Serious Crime and Terrorist Financing Act to the Financial Crimes Act.
The change of the law provided FIA the powers to conduct investigations, carrying out civil confiscations and administering a Confiscation Fund.
Speaking during the event, Director General of FIA, Atuweni Juwayeyi-Agbermodji said the MoU will ensure that the two institutions recognize the new responsibilities that FIA now has.
In the MoU, she said: “Both institutions will be expected to exchange information for intelligence and investigative purposes spontaneously and upon request, and ensure that these requests are responded to within reasonable time. Also that staff members are informed on the need to keep the information in a secure manner.
“It also requires staff of both institutions to be empowered with knowledge on the relationship between tax crimes and money laundering and how the taking away of proceeds of crime is the most effective way for combating financial crime,” said Juwayeyi-Agbermodji.
The Director General also cited declaration of Cross-Border Currency and Goods as an important element in the MoU.
In the arrangement, MRA customs officers are mandated to require people leaving or entering Malawi to declare any currency they have in excess of USD 5000.
“These declarations will then be submitted to the FIA and will be used to enrich the FIA intelligence building process.
“The MRA, FIA, Reserve Bank of Malawi, Malawi Police Service and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services will embark on an earnest implementation of this requirement soon,” she said.
Juwayeyi-Agbermodji said this system will contribute in preventing the country’s foreign currency reserves from being depleted and catch money launderers before they accomplish their schemes.
In his remarks, Commissioner General for MRA, Tom Gray Malata, said the MoU will also help enhance the performance of his institution and also broaden its scope of work.
He said in the past, MRA was only pursuing the revenues that were evaded and not paying much attention to money laundering related to tax evasion and smuggling.
“With the new law (Financial Crimes Act) we are mandated to go beyond the investigations and prosecution of tax evasion or smuggling and also investigate and prosecute related money laundering.
“As an organisation, MRA requires partnerships to deal with these problems. That is why the importance of this MoU cannot be overemphasized,” said Malata.
He, therefore, assured that MRA is committed to abiding by the provisions of the MoU which replaces the first MoU signed in 2013 when FIA used to be known as Financial Intelligence Unit.
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