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Anti-laundering drive lauded


Rethabile Pitso

TELECOMMUNICATIONS firms have commended the recently completed anti-money laundering campaign for enlightening their customers and agents on the illicit practice.

The Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) held the countrywide campaign from 11 to 26 April 2016 in conjunction with Vodacom Lesotho (VCL) and Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) as well as the police.

Money laundering is the generic term used to describe the process by which criminals disguise the original ownership and control of the proceeds of criminal conduct by sending it through a legitimate organisations like banks and mobile money services.

The campaign was held in light of the mushrooming of pyramid schemes promising members unrealistic returns on their investments.

According to VCL M-Pesa Distribution Specialist ‘Mathabang Phalatsi many people were now enlightened about the tactics money launderers use too hoodwink their victims.

“We have received a lot of positive feedback from the police about people who came forward claiming to be victims of the pyramid schemes. Some of these pyramid schemes were using our M-Pesa platform to transact with participants,” she said.

The campaign, Ms Phalatsi said, also succeeded in equipping M-Pesa agents with skills to identify counterfeit money.

“The intention behind the campaign was also raising awareness about counterfeit notes. Our agents were excited to learn about the features that distinguished genuine notes from counterfeit ones,” she said.

“Besides counterfeit notes, dirty money was being used to buy electronic money. We learnt there were people who laundered their money by using the M-Pesa facility.”

Ms Phalatsi said the campaign had helped the telecommunications giant remain a step ahead of would-be money launderers.

“During the campaign, we learnt to employ methods that would enable us to remain a step ahead of people who may try to manipulate the system,” she said.

“Whenever we recruit more agents, we educate them on the various methods launderers may use to transfer illicit money.”

For her part, ETL Manager: Business Operations Eco-Cash, Senate Mofolo, echoed the sentiment, saying the campaign had yielded many benefits.

“One of the things we achieved from that campaign was to distance our network from the pyramid schemes that were making use of our network,” she said.

“We are happy that people are now aware that we don’t condone the activities of pyramid schemes on the Eco-Cash platform.

“We are also using the feedback we received from the communities and agents who attended our workshops to strengthen measures we have in place to combat fraudulent transactions.”

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