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Feb. 13th, 2012 | 09:44 am
posted by: smithpatroklos in patroklosmith


MBABANE – The Customs Department, now Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) has been blamed for laxity in verifying the authenticity of the registration of imported cars, contributing to the laundering of the cars in Southern Africa.

A report of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) found that such money laundering is also used to finance terrorist activities driven by the Al-Qaeda.
The report titled Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Risks in Botswana was compiled after a study was conducted in 2009.
It states that used motor vehicles imported from Asia are first taken to Botswana, where they are issued with forged registration before being driven to Lesotho and Swaziland to be re-registered.
“Since the authorities in the two countries have neither time nor the capacity to verify the authenticity of the registration documents produced, the vehicles are thus easily laundered,” the report states.
The report further states, “No duty would have been paid on the vehicles in Botswana as they would not be in the official registration database. At the same time, the vehicles would not attract duty in Lesotho or Swaziland on the assumption that such duty would have been in Botswana as part of the registration process there. A significant number of the vehicles are smuggled into South Africa despite the country having stringent laws on the imp-ortation of second-hand vehicles.”
The report states that the boom in imported used cars, which dates back to 2000, opened a window to the unmonitored crime. In Swaziland there are several sellers of used imported cars whose operations are currently being scrutinised by the newly launched Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA.)
About a month ago, the authority ordered all import car dealers to close their bonded warehouses while investigations were ongoing.
This was after revelation that government had been cheated of over E28 million by the dealers who under-declare the cars.
In Botswana, it was said that a number of terrorists linked to the Al-Qaeda had been detained by security agents.
They were under investigation for money laundering and attempting to establish various forms of terrorist structures.
“A number of suspects are foreigners involved in second-hand car dealerships, an area already identified by the ISS research as a money-laundering vulnerability.”
It states that Al-Qaeda agents in Botswana are believed to have used the country’s boom in imported second hand cars as a cover for their activities.
“They rarely use banks in their business transactions.
Investigations have linked com-pany directorships to Kenya, where terrorism-related activities are understood to be taking place. “There are suspicions that the stock of some car dealerships is purchased using proceeds from pirate activities near the horn of Africa.” The report concludes that there is need to review the risks of money laundering and the financing of terrorism on a regular and ongoing basis.
Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) Public Relations Manager Vusi Dlamini said the parastatal would respond after familiarising itself with the contents of the report.

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