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Botswana preps new legislation to regulate virtual assets

Following an assessment by Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Botswana has drafted a Bill to re-enact the country’s Financial Intelligence Act with amendments to regulate virtual assets.

The authorities recommended further amendments in order for the legislation to comply fully with FATF standards, specifically related to virtual assets.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame, said, “The re-enactment will ensure that the provisions of the Act are fully compliant with the FATF standards, in preparation for the 2024 assessment and mutual evaluation.”

Last year the task force described the virtual asset sector as fast-moving and technologically dynamic and therefore required continued monitoring and engagement between the public and private sectors.

Botswana’s Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) has also issued a warning over the increase in cybercrime, specifically related to virtual assets including cryptocurrency and illegal online investment schemes.

According to FIA, the scams use social media platforms for recruitment, promising rapid return on investment to unsuspecting victims.

“The fraudsters present a purported opportunity to invest in foreign exchange promising quick and high returns,” said Masego Mosate, Acting Director General of FIA.

Mosate added, “With the increased online usage, cybercrime continues to rise in scale and complexity affecting businesses and individuals alike.”

According to Mosate FIA has observed a surge in financial crimes related to virtual currencies, particularly cryptocurrency scams.

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