Amid a public outcry for sanity in the management of public resources, RBM, ACB and Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) officials are currently holding a supposed virtual conference at the lake.
The 41st Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) Task Force of Senior Officials virtual meeting in Mangochi was initially scheduled to be held in Arusha, Tanzania, but was changed to a virtual format due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to sources close to the meeting.
The ESAAMLG website announcing the conference reads: “ESAAMLG will hold its 41st Task Force of Senior Officials’ Virtual Meeting from 15th to 30th April 2021. The programme and agenda for the meeting will be circulated to delegates in due course.”
However, sources say when the Malawi delegation learnt of the decision to change the format to virtual, they agreed to convene in Mangochi at the resort which costs as much as K98 000 a night per delegate, in addition to other conference costs.
Officials from FIA, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), Malawi Gaming Board, Malawi Police Service, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Malawi Revenue Authority, National Intelligence Service, Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services, Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the Registrar General’s office have been meeting from April 19.
In an interview, ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala confirmed two officials from the bureau were attending the conference, but said the representatives of the various institutions had to be at one place to converge and convey Malawi’s position and review matters.
“The institutions needed to be together and contribute as Malawi. There were preparatory discussions and a post-conference review. It’s not an ACB issue, it’s a Malawi thing. Yes, our officials are attending,” she said.
FIA counterpart Masauko Ebere justified the Malawi delegation’s decision to hold the meeting in Mangochi.
He said Malawi has up to September 2021 to comply with all technical compliance issues, but previously failed to make progress due to Covid-19, among others.
Said Ebere: “As a country, we are in a tricky situation. Should we not address the technical compliance issues by September 2021, we could be referred to the International Cooperation Review Group process of the Financial Action Task Force and this is a step towards being blacklisted on non-cooperation with international requirements to combating money laundering and other financial crimes.”
But Centre for Social Accountability and Transparence executive director Willy Kambwandira yesterday described the move as money-spinning.