- Non-compliance plays a role in cases of fraud and money laundering
- Religion-based NPOs account for 70% of resources
Botswana Watch, a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) led by Robert Letsatsi, recently hosted a two-day conference in Gaborone to sensitise NPOs on the importance of transparency and the effects of money laundering (ML) and financial terrorisn (FT).
Letsatsi who is a director of Botswana Watch, said NPOs in Botswana have proven to be non- compliant by not submitting annual returns to the Registrar of Societies. He explained that while 40 percent of them do file, there is a significant number of NPOs with considerable financial resources and coverage of the country which do not file annual returns.
Letsatsi noted that Botswana has been able to conduct its first risk assessment using both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect and analyse data by focusing on adequacy of controls in place against threats. In the result, he said, the risk assessment identified that religious organisations, burial societies, community-based organisations and sporting societies hold more than 70 percent of the total number of NPOs in Botswana.
Letsatsi noted that in terms of proportion of financial resources and connection to international activities, NPOs engaged in religious activities, businesses, charitable and cultural activities have a significant presence. He said Botswana will continue to use risk assessment of NGOs/NPOs to see how best to improve issues of compliance and further educate on issues of security and ability to identify risks. According to the report on the risk assessment, the analysis of annual returns for 2018 showed that about 70 percent of the resources were concentrated in religion-based NPOs.
Also speaking at the conference was a guest of Botswana Watch from Uganda, Yona Wanjala, who is the Executive Director of Defenders Protection Initiative that works to promote and protect human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democracy. Wanjala pointed out that it is “very easy” to find NGOs in issues of money-laundering and financial terrorism and that there is evidence that there are organisations that use these for selfish purposes.
He said there are times when simple transactions can be used to defeat the ends of justice and warned that financial terrorism can happen even to the most honest. He underscored the need to be extra-diligent when funds are received because such organisations are dependent on donors. Wanjala also urged for websites to be upgraded because fraudsters can easily ‘clone’ them to receive funds meant for NPOs from donors.