Malawi could be unrecogised on the international financial market should Parliament fail to pass the Financial Crime Bill by 15 February 2017, Malawi24 can report.
The bill aims at repealing the Money Laundering, Proceeds of Serious Crime and Terrorist Financing Act currently being used to hear cashgate cases in court which is weak as it only attracts maximum 10 years imprisonment.
This legal framework seeks to create an independent Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) replacing the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
The bill also introduces enhanced penalties for offences including money laundering, terrorism financing and financing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of MK500 million, and revocation of business licence for a legal person.
If the bill is not passed by the deadline, financial firms will not be able to transact businesses internationally.
This has since forced the national assembly mid-year budget review having the Financial Crime Bill featuring highly on the agenda.
The house meets from February 6 to March 2, 2017.
In a press statement released early this week, Speaker Richard Msowoya is summoning all cabinet ministers with their deputies and members of Parliament (MPs) to attend the meeting in the capital Lilongwe.
Parliament is in haste to host budget review proceedings amidst panic to pass the Financial Crime Bill whose deadline is February 15 that failure to do so the country risks being blacklisted on the international financial market.
Malawi24 understands that some financial institutions in the country will be affected negatively if the bill doesn’t meet its passing deadline.
In December 2016, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe tabled the bill in Parliament but members referred it to the house’s committees on legal affairs and Budget and Finance for further scrutiny before it is passed into law.
The committees which have already started consultation with officials from FIU, Malawi Law Commission and Bankers Association of Malawi will also meet Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) before the August house reconvenes next week.