A lack of cooperation means that financial crime will continue to pose a growing threat in Africa, a coordinator in the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) says.
Martin Ewi, in an article says that there are significant disparities among states and regions in Africa in defining what constitutes financial crime.
“Variations in how financial crimes tends are defined are conspicuous among the different legal systems in Africa – divided among anglophone, francophone and lusophone fault lines,” Ewi says. “As a result, there is very little cooperation among African countries on the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes.”
The coordinator says the way states have approached and responded to the crimes was equally divergent, which highlighted gaps in the knowledge as well as the capacity of law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate and prosecute financial crimes.
Africa is reported to be more affected than any other continent as there is also no clear international definition of financial crime.
“This sustains impunity, as many financial crimes go underreported and unaccounted for – which seriously undermines the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in Africa,” Ewi says.
“The continent is not only susceptible to such crimes, but also risks becoming a safe haven or a hub for criminals evading justice elsewhere, where more stringent regulative, monitoring and compliance regimes are in place.”
“In the absence of a universally accepted definition, financial crimes are often described in broad terms, and seen to encompass various criminal conducts including fraud, illicit financial flows (IFFs), money laundering, counterfeiting, market abuse, bribery, corruption and tax evasion – to name a few,” the coordinator says.
Zimbabwe this year released a document of illicit financial flows, one of the financial crimes, in the process of naming and shaming those those in the act.
The Southern African country has in the past been involved in the process of amending the Money-Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act to meet international standards.