No law stops customer drawing K1bn on counter -Malawi banks

The Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM) told Public Affairs Committee (PAC) of parliament that there is no law in the country which prohibits a customer to cash certain amount of money on  bank counter.

A source in BAM told Nyasa Times on Sunday that during the meeting they had with PAC which was led by their president William Chatsala, they informed the committee that a customer can draw any amount of money.

The bankers were explaining this after allegations that businessperson Oswald Lutepo, who has been charged with money laundering, encashed a K1.2 billion cheque over the counter.

They argued that the laws only stipulate that for everyone who has deposited cash of above K1 million, the Reserve Bank’s intelligence unit is supposed to know for further scrutiny, which Justice Minister Fahad Assani concurred.

Justice Minister Fahad Assani: The banked looked the other way

But the Justice Minister accused the banks that they “looked the other way when huge sums of money were being drawn from their accounts without raising an alarm with the FIU (Financial Intelligence unit).”

“FIU would always come in when they have been advised of some suspicious transactions. This was not done and the banks should have an explanation to make,” said Assani.

Money laundering expert Jai Banda who is a lawyer representing Lutepo in the ‘cashgate’ case  said banks are supposed to report to FIU any suspicious or unusual transactions for an account in accordance with the Money Laundering, Proceeds of Serious Crime and Terrorist Financing Act

The commercial banks told PAC that they were submitting reports to the central bank as required.

They also defended the query on why some cheques were being cashed on weekend, saying the banks were open during weekends.

FIU acting director Atuweni-tupochile Phiri is on record saying that Malawi FIU is not mandated to carry out investigations or prosecutions.

Former governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi who also served as r minister of Finance and Economic Planning Matthews Chikaonda has since proposed the setting up of a cashgate commission of inquiry.

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