TANZANIA: Agreement signed with US to combat financial crimes DAR ES SALAAM, 27 August 2002 (IRIN) - The US government and Tanzania have signed an agreement on technical assistance for capacity building in the battle against financial and economic crimes, notably money laundering and terrorist finance. At a ceremony in Dar es Salaam, US Ambassador Robert Royall and Tanzanian Finance Minister Basil Mramba agreed on a work-plan which is aimed at enabling Tanzania to build capacity in prevention, investigation and prosecuting those who participate in organised crime and criminal groups laundering the proceeds of crime and corruption. "Some people might say that money laundering is not a big problem in Tanzania, since we don't have any large drug trafficking or organised criminal groups," Royall commented at the signing ceremony. "However, money laundering facilitates all crimes, by providing the criminals with the ability to enjoy the proceeds of their crimes and also giving them the resources to expand their criminal activities." Royall also reminded those at the ceremony of the impact of the 1998 terrorist attacks on the US embassy in Dar es Salaam, highlighting the two governments' "common interest in eliminating sources of terrorist financing". He added that while this US Treasury programme had "taken on renewed importance in the light of the terrorist attacks last September" the initiative, which he hoped would develop "the finest anti-money laundering regime in Africa" was not merely an anti-terrorism initiative. "Money launderers, not only terrorists but also organized criminal groups, use weaknesses in financial systems," he noted. "Recognising this, the US has embarked on a worldwide effort to assist countries to develop effective anti-money laundering regimes." Officials at the US embassy told IRIN that after the September 11th attacks on the US, Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill had offered technical assistance in anti-money laundering to every country in the world, and that while it was "not specifically related to any particular threat", Tanzania had been one of the first to accept the offer. The "multi-year" programme will help law enforcement officials and regulatory bodies within Tanzania to combat these crimes by developing improved legislation, regulation and procedures, and by improving investigative techniques, including financial information gathering and analysis. At the ceremony, Finance Minister Mramba underlined Tanzania's active role in combating financial crime through its hosting of the Secretariat of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and its criminalisation of money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act. However, he said this was just the beginning and the government planned to put in place "a comprehensive law on money laundering to bridge the existing gaps". "This would involve, among other measures, the revision and amendment of the existing laws on money laundering, and the establishment of a Financial Intelligence Unit," he stated. A recent survey on Tanzania, conducted by the international accountancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), suggested that for the moment, money laundering was not an immediate or obvious problem in the country. However, analysts warned this did not mean the crime didn't exist, simply that it was not highlighted by those questioned. "Money laundering, if there isn't the appropriate legislation in place, may become a major problem," an accountant at PWC told IRIN.