Real estate most attractive sector for money laundering - FIA

Friday July 20 2018

Landlord-Tenant Bill: Changing future of real estate in Uganda

Clients inspect an apartment. The National Risk Assessment survey was conducted in more than 26 entities including government ministries, departments and agencies, regulatory bodies and private sector organisations. FILE PHOTO 

By Christine Kasemiire

Kampala. The Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) has cited real estate as the most attractive investment for money launderers.
Speaking during a stakeholder engagement with the civil society, Mr Sydney Asubo the FIA executive director, said a National Risk Assessment survey conducted by the Authority found that real estate was responsible for moving “dirty money” because of its profitability and lax regulation.
“Most of the land in Uganda is untitled and rules around transfer are not stringently enforced. Land is also not registered and rarely loses value. It usually appreciates [which makes it attractive to money launderers],” he said.
The National Risk Assessment survey, according to Mr Asubo, also exposed trafficking of wildlife, drugs and smuggling cosmetics in and out of the country.
The three most counterfeited products, according to the National Risk Assessment survey, are tobacco, cosmetics and money.
However, top priority on the Financial Intelligence Authority’s radar is terrorism and terrorism financing which is especially perpetuated by non-governmental organisations.

According to Mr Asubo, 95 per cent of suspicious reports received by the Financial Intelligence Authority are related to money laundering and the 5 per cent on terrorism financing.

To avert terrorism financing, he asked civil society to work closely with banks to demystify information concerning sources of money as well as the purpose of funding.

However, Mr Yona Wanjala, a representative of civil society under the Defenders Protection Initiative executive director, asked government to ensure that people’s rights are not infringed and organisations not suffocated under the guise of implementing laws.