Massive Corruption At Deeds Office
3 December 2023
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Corruption and Record-Keeping Chaos at Department of Deeds Raises Concerns Over Zimbabwe’s Anti-Money Laundering Status-

Harare – Zimbabwe faces potential repercussions in its fight against money laundering and terrorism financing as corruption and shambolic record-keeping at the Department of Deeds, Companies, and Intellectual Property come to light.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has expressed alarm over the state of record-keeping at the department, highlighting loopholes that could be exploited for money laundering. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global financial crimes watchdog, is set to conduct a routine assessment of Zimbabwe in 2026 to evaluate the country’s anti-money laundering systems.

Zimbabwe, previously on FATF’s grey list, successfully addressed concerns last year and was removed. However, the recent revelations could jeopardize the nation’s standing as a low-risk country for money laundering.

FATF rules mandate countries to maintain accurate and up-to-date information on beneficial ownership of companies and trusts. FIU Director-General Mr. Oliver Chiperesa voiced concern, stating that the inefficiencies at the companies’ registry offices could hinder Zimbabwe’s ability to convince international assessors of its commitment to combating money laundering.

Chiperesa emphasized the importance of a functional registry of beneficial ownership information, warning that even last-minute improvements may not suffice for the upcoming 2026 assessment. Assessors scrutinize data over a five-year period, necessitating sustained efforts to demonstrate anti-money laundering commitment.

Historically, banks have been favored vehicles for money laundering, but increased regulatory oversight has forced criminals to explore alternative avenues. Real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, and other intermediaries become potential channels for concealing illicit proceeds.

Despite Zimbabwe’s progress with 36 out of 40 FATF recommendations being met, achieving a perfect 40/40 compliance rate remains the target. The nation must address the issues at the Department of Deeds swiftly to avoid penalties from FATF, safeguarding its reputation and financial integrity on the global stage.- agencies