This law compels banking and financial institutions and other persons referred to as ‘accountable persons’ to disclose information they obtained from their customers. This in effect significantly changes the law of secrecy in Ethiopia. Before the enactment of this law, Ethiopian civil and criminal law provides protection against the disclosure of confidential information of customers. It also to some extent grant privilege to the customer or client to claim privilege if such confidential information is going to be offered as an evidence before a judicial proceeding. Lawyers in Ethiopia, for instance, are prohibited to testify against their clients regarding matters they obtained from their clients in a confidential status.
Now, no more protection is given to customers or clients if the confidential information pertains to “investigation or prosecution of crime involving money laundering or financing of terrorism or for taking regulatory measures.” According to article 6 of the proclamation, no obligation of confidentiality imposed by other laws shall affect any obligation under this Proclamation to report or furnish information. This holds true for most of the banking and micro-finance institutions in Ethiopia. However, the duty of disclosure is not limited only to such institutions. It also includes the following institutions; Money transfer agent or a foreign exchange bureau; a financial leasing company, the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority, a notary office or an organ empowered to authenticate documents, a licensing authority, the Ethiopian Investment Agency; non-governmental organization, religious institution or other charitable organization, an advocate, an auditor or a licensed accountant, a person engaged in real estate business, a dealer in precious metals and gems, a broker, dealer or investment adviser;
Assume an advocate representing a person suspected of money laundering. According to this law the advocate will be under an obligation to disclose any information he obtained from the suspect. From the suspect’s perspectives hiring a lawyer amounts to confession. Hence, it is unimaginable that he gets representation of a lawyer.
PROCLAMATION NO. 657/2009.
A PROCLAMATION ON PREVENTION AND SUPPRESSION OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND THE FINANCING OF TERRORISM
WHEREAS, money laundering and the financing of terrorism as it not only threaten security, but also compromise the stability, transparency, soundness and efficiency of the financial system;
WHEREAS, the effort to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism is being undertaken internationally and since Ethiopia is part thereof;
WHEREAS, it has become imperative to legislate special law to have an effective implementation of the provisions of the Criminal Code criminalizing money laundering as an offence;
NOW, THEREFORE, in accordance with
Article 55 sub article (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia it is hereby proclaimed as follows: Continue reading “PROCLAMATION NO. 657/2009. A PROCLAMATION ON PREVENTION AND SUPPRESSION OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND THE FINANCING OF TERRORISM”