Today starting at 2pm at Golf Course Hotel – Kampala, Chapter Four Uganda will be engaging stakeholders in the Civil Society and the wider public in a discussion on the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2013 (AMA).
The history and experiences with Anti-Money Laundering legislation is quite lukewarm.
Basically, money laundering is the process of making illegally-gained proceeds (mostly “dirty money”) appear legal. This process often entails three steps of placement, layering, and finally integration (into the financial system). On the face of it, money laundering obviously facilitates a plethora of crimes such as terrorism, drug & human trafficking et cetera.
But the devil is in the details and how the laws are implemented.
The Anti-Money laundering zealots have argued that the legislation helps control the circulation of “dirty money” often used to finance criminal acts and also helps fight tax invasion.
The critics on the other hand argue that the global effort is a fool’s errand which is a waste of time and money in a war against a vague crime designed to ultimately enrich those in power.
They further argue that the pro-AMA zealots have labored to build a “paper reality” which anticipates a “potemkin village” based on no evidence that works but a plausible folk theory. It is a case of those who believe in utopia rather than the reality.
However, what is clear is that after the U.S. passed it’s first Anti-Money Laundering law in 1986, rather than achieve the set goals, the law created the birth of a whole new occupation. We saw entrepreneurs in the shape of legal and illegal money launderers who honed skills to help clients evade taxes and transfer or hide criminal money around the world.
Today, the war on drugs, tax evasion and terrorism finance has been a dismal failure globally.
Ironically, what these laws have successfully achieved is to place the basic human right of financial privacy at the mercy of corrupt governments and chains of criminal networks within the systems.
The same law is also prone to abuse by authoritarian regimes who have the legal means to adversely affect the work of NGOs, civil society actors, and populations which survive on the informal sectors and remittances.
A close examination reveals a law that seeks to protect “collective” rights and remains passive on the “individual” rights and liberties.
Uganda finally joined the rest of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group of nations by enacting the law in 2013 but clearly, there are a lot of challenges that will be encountered in the implementation of the law. One among them is the potential to be abused.
This is the reason why a lucid discussion like the one happening today on understanding the implications of the AMA on the work of civil society is a much needed platform to prepare civil society actors to lawfully navigate these murky waters.
Join Nicholas Opiyo and the rest of the team to share your thoughts.
A recap of the event can be viewed from the links here below:
Storify piece capturing several tweets during event: https://t.co/H2nbgTsU68
NTV Uganda news video clip on the #AMLA2013 discourse: https://t.co/WnMkfXQDb6