Deloitte, an audit, consulting, tax and risk advisory firm, has advised local financial sector players to create robust crime compliance programmes while strengthening their existing systems.
The advice made in Blantyre yesterday came at a time financial crime risks are said to be on the rise and receiving increased attention in Malawi and Africa at large.
Deloitte partner for risk advisory services in Central African Region Tricha Simon said in Blantyre yesterday there is a gap in the financial crimes compliance programme largely due to the low level of awareness in financial crime among financial institutions.
He was speaking at a panel discussion under the theme Combating Financial Crime: Building Our Nation, which attracted financial industry players and discussed issues and preventive measures to financial crime.
Said Simon: “Except for the banking institutions, most firms are limited in terms of understanding of financial crimes.
“It is imperative that institutions are sensitised to financial crimes, be able to look at their operations and detect transactions as they occur. Institutions need to put in place policies that enable them to be proactive rather than reactive.”
National Bank of Malawi (NBM) chief risk officer Charles Ulaya said commercial banks have taken the direction to enhance their expertise in identifying financial crimes though there are limitations to the governing law.
“Banks are being compelled to improve customer identification tools. We have used technology to profile customers, and if there are any unusual behaviours where transactions are above limits earlier prescribed by customers, our systems are able to flag and provide us with that information and we report to the FIU [Financial Intelligence Unit],” he said.
Ulaya said every Malawian should be involved in the fight against financial crimes.
On her part, FIU director general Atuweni Juwayeyi Agbermodji noted that financial crimes continue to be an area of concern as it is reported that institutions, and the economy at large, is reeling from the effects of the act.
She said: “Financial crimes have an impact on companies which has untimely affected the economy. We see a number of institutions affected and the notable ones being financial institutions facing scenarios where foreign businesses that do not want to business with the local companies if they believe that Malawi does not have adequate regulation for money laundering,” she said.
Financial crimes may include bank fraud involving cheques, credit cards, market manipulation, theft, tax evasion, bribery and embezzlement.