The Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) acknowledges a potential risk of terrorism financing in Bunyoro sub region and the Albertine region at large due to activities related to the oil industry.
It, therefore, calls upon Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating in the area to be vigilant to avoid being used as accessories of illicit money transfer. Other areas with extractives like gold mining, too, are at risk.
Bunyoro hosts more than 80% of the 6.5 billion barrels of crude oil reserves confirmed in the Albertine region so far.
Ms Phionah Nabaggala, the Inspection and Compliance Officer at the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) urges NGOs to always endeavour to consult the Authority in case of any suspicious financial transfers to avoid falling victims of money laundering and terrorism-financing penalties.
Speaking during a sensitisation engagement with NGOs operating in the Albertine region held in Hoima city Ms Nabaggala says the penalties given to an individual found guilty of money laundering and terrorism financing go to Shs2b or a 15-year-jail term or both and Shs4b for an organisation in accordance with the Anti-money Laundering Act 2013 as amended.
National Risk Assessment on Money Laundering report by the FIA 2017, are categorised as medium risk entities for money laundering and terrorism financing citing areas with extractives, too, as fertile grounds for illicit financial transfers.
It also calls for much attention on areas with porous borders like on Lake Albert neighbouring the conflict ravaged Ituri Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mr Paul Kasirye, a Programme Officer at Defenders Protection Initiative (PDI), says the poor culture of record keeping amongst many CSOs remains a challenge that can put them in suspicion of money laundering and disrupt their activities.
On behalf of CSOs that participated, Ms Catherine Tuhaise, said the knowledge gap about money laundering and terrorism financing has been very wide.
This article runs as many CSOs are going through tough times financially following the freezer of funds from the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) by the government of Uganda alleging that its funds are being used to jeopardize national security.
NGOs have been accusing the government of taking excuses of money laundering and terrorism financing suspicion to muzzle CSOs to eliminate their oversight role on gaps in rule of law and respect for human and people’s rights.
The allegations of terrorism financing against the National NGO Forum in relation to DGF funds became bold during the heated up general election campaigns at the end of last year. The National NGO Forum with support from the DGF had set an extensive strategy to monitor the elections period before it was denied access to its bank accounts.