Analysis: KELVIN SIWALE
CORRUPTION is mainly linked to various white-collar crimes as it facilitates their commission.
Money laundering is one of the crimes that rides on the back of corruption.
Money laundering always occurs after a predicate crime such as corruption or drug trafficking has been committed.
Simply put, money laundering is the process of concealing the real identity of proceeds of crime. To simplify the definition further, let’s look at the word ‘laundering’; this word comes from the noun launder which means cleaning or dirty washing and so if somebody engages in money laundering it simply means they have acquired illegitimate(dirty) money and they are trying to legitimise it, so that everybody could think it was acquired genuinely. This process is complex and may take some time before somebody can freely enjoy the proceeds of crime. After a criminal has successfully laundered the proceeds of crime they have something they can point to and say that is where my money is coming from. In case you question them, they will show you how they started small and are now big in business.
So, with money laundering and corruption, we can say they ride on each other’s back. To deceive the public, a criminal, launders the proceeds of corruption and also for the process of money laundering to be successful, corruption may have to come in. Proceeds of crime such as drug trafficking may be laundered, to avoid the question of living beyond one’s means and being suspected of engaging in criminal activities. These are the activities actively going on in the minds of criminals. They’ll not bank their money but will keep investing it in bits, on face value, you will think their business is growing steadily. Eventually, they’ll throw back all the proceeds of crime into the economic system. When it gets to this stage, everything seems to be normal and dirty money has been washed, ready to be used to buy all sorts of expensive items.
Corruption is one of the crimes that mostly fuel the process of concealing the proceeds of crime. Proceeds of corruption can also be laundered and in the process of doing so, more acts of corruption and other allied crimes such as fraud may be committed.
Nowadays, criminals have become more cunning in that they will ensure that their corrupt deals leave no visible trails of corruption but thanks to the advancement in investigative techniques.
Criminals rarely get cash bribes and if they do it does not pass through their bank accounts. Bribes could be paid in form of assets or into accounts that nobody will suspect. This is where the aspect of depositing moneys in safe havens or offshore bank accounts comes in.
In some cases, moneys may be used to undertake projects which are not in the name of the criminal or any relative or close associate making it difficult to trace in the absence of robust intelligence systems in investigative wings. A huge bribe may be segmented into smaller amounts which may not raise alarm and the criminal will receive it in cash and will be investing into say real estate as the bribe instalments come and everybody will be saying he/she built over a long time and think the money used was legitimate. This is all meant to legitimise corrupt money, which process is called money laundering. When somebody starts collecting rentals from buildings that were erected using bribes, the proceeds will appear to be clean, one can even comfortably bank it because they have something to point to as the source.
Thank goodness that though complicated, investigative wings are equal to the task and can crack down such syndicates and trace back to the real source of the questionable money which is found anaccounted for by a suspect. Why are these issues being raised today? It is to provoke and let you realise that not all riches that you see are genuine. We need to be alert and report money laundering activities; sometimes corrupt men will register assets in the names of their girlfriends or institutions not linked to them. Don’t accept to be used because when the law cracks its whip, you will certainly be part of the corruption or money laundering equation. If somebody approaches you and says they want to register land, automobiles, and so forth, in your name especially, public officials, ask yourself why can’t he register in his name? If you just agree recklessly you are inviting trouble, it’s a matter of time before ‘legal tunes’ start playing in your ears.
One thing we need to understand is that if we can prevent money laundering scams and corruption, we will be saving a lot of public resources. This is because investigations into such complex white-collar crimes can be very costly, it may require investigators to travel abroad and even locally it may involve a lot of travelling. As patriotic citizens we should not be a part of schemes that rob our nation of the much-needed resources, let’s expose all manner of corruption and money laundering schemes. If you know where and how the proceeds of crime are being concealed and you keep quiet, you are part of the crime. Lastly, your NO to corruption is a WIN for Zambia.
The author is an anti-corruption activist.
Corruption versus money laundering
Analysis: KELVIN SIWALE