Report urges SA to co-ordinate fight against illicit trade
Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade says country must adopt an overall strategy as the problem isn’t sector-specific
SA must improve co-ordination and enforcement in the battle against illicit trade if it hopes to curb the loss of tens of billions of rand in revenue each year.
Esteban Giudici, policy adviser at the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (Tracit), said a key weakness that a group report identified in SA’s approach to the problem was the lack of an all-embracing strategy.
The report, titled Organised Crime, Corruption and Illicit Trade, was released on Tuesday in partnership with Business Unity SA.
“We don’t have an overarching illicit trade framework. We don’t treat this problem as a criminal phenomenon that affects everyone. We see the problem as sector-specific,” Giudici said at the report’s official presentation on Tuesday.
“In SA we see there is a lack of implementation of the law to effectively fight illicit trade. We have problems of dealing with corruption which is a facilitator of illicit trade. We see we don’t use resources [in SA] to fight illicit trade as it is not seen as a priority,” he added.
“Criminals are not sector-specific. They are money-driven. They are entrepreneurial. Whenever they see an opportunity, they go and get it. They are really faster than us,” Giudici said.
Sectors especially vulnerable to illicit trade include alcohol, illegal mining, counterfeit goods, falsified medicines, fuel smuggling, wildlife trafficking, and tobacco.
Giudici said the government must improve its co-ordination those involved are highly organised and operate transnationally.
Tracit conducts research on illicit trade and transnational crimes, and analyses the data compiled to help companies and governments combat them.
SA was greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force in February after Paris-based body found the country’s systems to combat money laundering and terrorism financing were insufficient.
“In SA it is not a problem of the laws that are in place or the standards that are there. It is a problem of effectiveness. It is how the laws that are in place are effectively implemented to fight money laundering,” Giudici said.
“Tackling money laundering also means tackling illicit trade. The proceeds of money laundering, much of it comes from illicit trade,” Giudici said.
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