Ugandan banks tighten identification procedures to curb illicit money transfers


Kampala, Uganda |URN| The Financial Intelligence Authority [FIA] has downplayed the significance of notices being sent to some customers of commercial banks informing them of the identification requirements when making transactions with their banks.

Some customers of some banks have been receiving notifications such as;

“Dear Customer, as a regulatory requirement by FIA, you will need to present your NIN or passport for all cash/cheque transactions. For queries, call 0800222333,” a notice from Absa Bank reads.

Asked as to whether the FIA directed the banks to issue the notices and why or whether it targeted specific individuals, the Executive Director Sydney Asubo said he had also received one from his banker.

He adds that he doesn’t think that his bank account is used for any suspicious transactions.

“Yes, many people have received that message, including myself as a bank customer. It is a routine message intended to improve compliance with the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, and the regulations thereunder as part of Know Your Customer/ Customer Due Diligence measures,” said Asubo.

In October 2020, the FIA signed a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] with the National Identification and Registration Authority [NIRA], in which the financial monitoring agency would quickly avail individual information for anyone that would be investigated for money laundering.

In 2013, Uganda passed the Anti-Money Laundering Act [AML Act] leading to the creation of the Financial Intelligence Authority in 2014.  It is aimed at tracking and preventing illicit movement and use of cash within the country’s financial system which also aims at preventing funding for activities like terrorism.

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The message by the banks comes amidst rising uncertainty surrounding some NGOs whose bank accounts have been frozen on the directive of the FIA. Most of them have been involved in activities advocating for good government and democracy.

Asubo has denied that it is because of their advocacy work, but adds that they are in discussions with the organizations.