Mozambique: Law On Seizure of Assets Must Be Approved

Maputo — Mozambique’s Attorney-General, Beatriz Buchili, argued on Wednesday that the authorities cannot fight effectively against economic and financial crimes unless the criminals are “stripped of the assets that they have illicitly acquired”.

Giving her annual report on the justice system to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Buchili warned that organised crime will persist as long as it remain advantageous for the criminals, since “even when criminals are in prison, some members of the organisation of which they form part, may continue the criminal activity”.

“So taking from them all the goods, all the money, all the advantages that result from committing crimes stands out as an effective way of fighting crime, liquidating the criminal organisation or hindering the criminal plans”, she said.

Buchili was therefore concerned at the delay in approving a law on the recovery of assets. Her office has been calling for such a law for several years.

That law, she said, should clearly define the procedures and mechanisms to be used in recovering assets from criminals. The delay in passing this law hinders effective action against crime “and makes it difficult for us to show that crime does not pay”, Buchili added.

Preventing and combating economic and financial crime – including corruption, fraud and money laundering – is one of the priorities of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, she said, pointing out that arresting and sentencing such criminals is also an economic necessity. Holding these criminals responsible for their acts, said Buchili, would help stabilise the market, “since those who obtain money illicitly are willing to use various mechanisms to distort the market”.

She added that lying behind money laundering are always previous crimes, including murder, kidnapping, trafficking in people, drug trafficking, contraband and loan-sharking. The State, Buchili added, always needs to make improvements in its criminal investigation and financial intelligence mechanisms, which requires strengthening the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC).

Buchili said that, in 2019, criminal proceedings were begun in 235 cases of economic and financial crimes, including 48 cases of money laundering.

But preparatory investigations were only included in 33 cases. 10 of these were shelved, two are waiting “for the production of better evidence”, and charges were brought in only 21 cases.

Buchili blamed these meagre results on the complexity of financial investigations, which demands that more prosecutors and other staff be allocated to this area of work, and that the capacity of SERNIC’s own investigators must be built up.

 

 

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique