SA must improve co-ordination in its fight against illicit trade: report
Tracit says there is still no overarching framework in SA to fight illicit trade
South Africa must improve co-ordination and enforcement in its fight against illicit trade to make a dent in the incidence of the crime which has shown to be on the rise in the country.
This was one of the recommendations made by Esteban Giudici, policy adviser at the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (Tracit), during a presentation of the report titled Organised Crime, Corruption and Illicit Trade.
The report was released on Tuesday in partnership with Business Unity South Africa.
Giudici said their research showed there were some weaknesses in the way South Africa tackles illicit trade.
“In South Africa 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.
“We see 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.
“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.
Specific South African sectors identified as being serious illicit trade problems include alcohol, illegal mining, counterfeit goods, falsified medicine, fuel, wildlife traffic and tobacco.
Giudici said the government needs to improve its co-ordination in the fight against illicit trade as those behind the crime are organised and involved in more than one country.
Tracit conducts a lot of research in the area of illicit trade and transnational crimes and uses the data to help companies and the government to fight these crimes.
South Africa was recently greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force which experts said would frustrate the government’s efforts to attract investment and grow the economy post the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In South Africa 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.
“Tackling money laundering also means tackling illicit trade. The proceeds of money laundering, much of it comes from illicit trade,” Giudici said.
The IMF estimates a country's GDP can shrink by up to 7.6% after being greylisted.
Researchers recommended the government improves co-ordination and strengthens criminal penalties and law enforcement.
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