Q&A – 21 October 2013

Finger prints by bank

I am a director in a company in Tanzania but reside outside the country. Being a foreign national, and wanting to establish more businesses in Tanzania, I decided to open a bank account in Dar. I was quite shocked when the bank asked me for my fingerprints saying it was a requirement under the law. This is the first time I am hearing of this. I was quite astonished at the way the bank treated me when my fingers were placed on an ink pad. In fact the ink stained one of my shirts. Another banker told me they don’t take such finger prints. What can I do? On a different note, when I spoke to my banker about getting an inward remittance of about one million dollars, he said that there were reporting rules for such a transfer into my account. I find all this weird and am worried about investing here.
IO, Dar

The Anti money laundering regulations of 2012 in section 5 state that a reporting person (a Bank is a reporting person) shall obtain from, or in respect of, an individual who is a citizen of another country and is not resident in the United Republic, that person’s- (a) full names and residential address; (b) date and place of birth; (c) nationality; (d) passport; (e) visa; (f) Tax Identification Number, if such number has been issued to that person; (g) any or all of, telephone number, postal and email address; and (h) signature and thumb print. (2) In case a reporting person is aware or ought reasonably to be aware that the person referred to in sub-regulation (1) does not have the legal capacity to establish a business relationship or conclude a single transaction without the assistance of another person, the reporting person shall, in addition to obtaining the particulars referred to in sub regulation (1), obtain from the person rendering assistance-(a) full names and residential address; (b) date and place of birth; (c) nationality; (d) passport; (e) Visa; (f) Tax Identification Number, if such number has been issued to that person; (g) signature and thumb print; and (h) any or all of, telephone number, postal and email address.

From the above, you can see that it is mandatory under the regulations to obtain your finger prints. Hence if your complaint is about the taking of the finger prints there is nothing that you can do. Your astonishment is also not very clear to us as many countries, with the vast issues related to money laundering, terrorism, narcotics, trafficking and the like, require that individuals have their finger prints taken.

If your complaint is about the spoilage of your shirt, you might have a cause of action against the bank but the damages, if any, will be very limited. Your legal fees to pursue such a case might be much more than what you will recover.

In response to information from the “other banker”, please be informed that he or she is misguiding you. The Anti Money Laundering Act and its regulations are very strict and in the case of non compliance, it provides for custodial sentences for both the banker and yourself.

As for unusual activity in an account, it is true that the Anti Money launder regulations provide for such transactions to be reported to the Financial Intelligence Unit.

Hence your opening of an account, your reluctance to have your finger prints taken and the fact that immediately upon opening an account you want to transact a million dollars would be deemed to be highly suspicious and a transaction that your banker must report. Non reporting of such transactions can lend the banker into jail. For further information, we advise you contact your lawyers.

Dual Citizenship

I was born in Tanzania hence a Tanzanian by birth but have lived in London for more than ten years now. I wish to obtain citizenship in United Kingdom and don’t wish to lose my Tanzanian citizenship. My friend says I can secretly have two passports. Is this possible?
KM, London

The Citizenship Act of Tanzania doesn’t provide for dual citizenship hence you cannot be a citizen of both countries.
At the time you apply and obtain citizenship in the United Kingdom, you are deemed to have abandoned your Tanzanian citizenship. We advise you to think clearly and make a decision to choose the citizenship that you prefer the most. Hence holding two passports secretly is an offence under the laws of Tanzania.

One shareholder company

Has the new amendment to the Companies Act to allow one shareholder come into force yet? I wish to incorporate a limited liability company with one shareholder.
AJ, Mtwara

Unfortunately the law which amends the Companies Act, Act No. 12 of 2002 to allow companies having one shareholder to be registered at BRELA hasn’t come into force yet. As per the information we have, the regulations are still being worked on to enable easy implementation of the amendments. We advise you to contact BRELA or your lawyers for further details.

Visa to visit the moon

I was told that since the United States went first to the moon, and with their flag hoisted there, you require an American visa to go to the moon. Is that true?
OG, Dar

Your question is far too farfetched. To the best of our knowledge, no one has claimed ownership of the moon. In fact, the two nations who spearheaded the moon hunt, Russia and the US, are party to the Outer Space Treaty which defines the moon and all outer space as the province of all mankind. There also exists a 1979 Moon Agreement that was created to restrict the exploitation of the Moon’s resources by any single nation.

Whilst it is true that in 1969 the US hoisted their flag on the moon, that does not entitle the US ownership and neither is the US claiming any exclusivity or ownership of the moon.

First getting to the moon is a challenge; enforcing a visa requirement on the moon would likely, in today’s era, be impossible. Hence if you plan on going there, you can proceed- it is visa free territory. We wish you good luck.