National Assembly |03 December 2020
Harmonising laws to better fight money laundering, drug trafficking activities
Members of the National Assembly on Tuesday voted to approve certain amendments to the Proceeds of Crimes Civil Confiscation Act 2008 to harmonise it with other legislations which are essential to more effectively fight money laundering and drug trafficking activities.
Minister for Internal Affairs, Errol Fonseka, presented the amendments for the Assembly’s consideration and approval.
The Proceeds of Crimes (Civil Confiscation) Act 2008 (POCCCA) was enacted to put in place a regime of civil confiscation which will provide a statutory process whereby the benefits from criminal conduct will be identified in a court process, frozen before being transferred to the state on the civil standard of proof.
The POCCCA was last amended in 2017 when certain provisions related to its definition were modified to address money laundering issues related to the operations and functions of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) at that time.
The new amendments follow the enactment of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT) 2020 providing for the realignment of the Proceeds of Crimes Civil Confiscation Act with other procedural laws essential for its effective implementation.
Minister Fonseka said in his presentation of the Bill to amend the Act that civil confiscation plays an essential role in protecting the integrity of financial systems worldwide and the protection of a country’s economy from the threats of money, drug-related transactions as well as other financial crimes.
“It is a means to discourage criminal activities and stop these from being profitable and it is an important element in the fight against money laundering,” Minister Fonseka pointed out.
Among the amendments include: In section 2 that ‘criminal conduct’ shall have the same meaning assigned to it in section 3(9) of the AML/CFT Act 2020(Act 5, 2020) that the definition of ‘benefit from criminal conduct’ and ‘property’ shall have the same meaning assigned to it in section 3(9) of the AML/CFT Act, 2020 (Act 5, 2020) among other amendments.
Several members intervened on the Bill and some of them commended efforts by previous governments to fight drug trafficking and money laundering in order to protect our financial services sector from any suspicious transactions.
Members of both parties welcomed the amendments, but members of the opposition in particular Sebastien Pillay noted that in 2017 the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) members were warned about their decision to amend the law which was at that time, he said, to satisfy certain individuals but not consider the damages their decision to approve the amendments would do to the financial context of the country. He welcomed the fact that the LDS is now bringing back what they removed three years ago, thus accepting that their decision then was not the right one. But they argued that there were justified reasons for the amendments and the situation was different then.
After a lot of debate, the Assembly voted 23 for and10 abstentions for the amendments to be approved.