Lusaka, Zambia, 4th June 2018 – We wish to state that there is nothing wrong with the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) if it plays the role it was established for.
The Finacial Intelligence Unit was established in November 2010 by an Act of Parliament. It’s a national agency designated and mandated to receive, request, analyse, and disseminate disclosure of information concerning money laundering, terrorist financing, and other serious suspected crimes to competent authorities for purposes of investigations.
According to the Act that establishes the Centre (Financial Intelligence Centre No. 46 of 2010 and Act no.4 of 2016) the FIC gathers this information from banks, financial institutions and others but must submit such information to law Enforcement Agencies and investigative wings and similar foreign entities related to cross border and international crimes.
We have however noted with concern Mr Elias Chipomo, an Oxford university lawyer, who is on a clear mission to mislead and misinform the general public.
Indeed If Mr. Chipimo was serious, he would have known that the Financial Intelligence Centre exists to collect raw information and as such it’s reports are nothing but intelligence reports whose contents are not prosecutorial in nature. Reports by FIC are not prosecutorial in nature and any lawyer knows it!
Mr. Chipimo ought to know that there are reports pointing to the FIC sending demands that lawyers or their accountants should disclose financial transactions related to their clients and such details should also include source of funds for amounts and business transactions above $5,000.00.
Mr. Chipimo ought to know that there are reports pointing to the FIC requesting selected estate agencies to disclose to them any civil servants above the position of Assistant Directors, Ministers and any magistrates and judges, who had recently bought a property.
Mr. Chipimo ought to have known that the order to compel banks to report all client’s transactions beyond the threshold of $5,000.00 has also instilled fear that businesses might begin to conduct transactions outside the banking and formal systems thereby creating a thriving black market and parallel economy.
Mr Chipimo should have known that in the manner FIC seeks to conduct itself, many have expressed concern whether this was the reincarnation of the feared Special Investigations Team for Economy and Trade (SITET) under UNIP, a terror monster used by the then one-party-state to terrorise businesses and political enemies under the cover of investigating economic crimes.
Mr. Chipimo ought to know that the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) is exactly that! An intelligence arm of the state specialising in gathering and providing information related to suspected financial and economic crimes and also help alert or flag financial support to terrorism activities.
But contrary to innuendos by Mr. Chipimo and others, the FIC:
1. Is not a law enforcement agency;*
2. Its information is raw and not prosecution material as it is intelligence information and usually sourced from third-parties. This information however, is actionable, but would require further investigations and verification to make it meet the pre-trial stage standard. At this stage, like all intelligence information it is not fit for prosecution but for information and leads.*
3. This information has to be further processed and should not be put out to the public as it alerts the alleged criminal suspect and also endangers opportunities and effort to a successful prosecution.
Many are concerned at the grand-standing and populist manner the FIC has taken to even jeopardise in its work by making these unverified, un-researched information to the gallery.
Its own law that regulates the Unit mandates to provide it provide its findings to competent authorities (law Enforcement Agencies) and the Act forbids publication of this information to the public.
The Act provides that the Board is appointed by the President. He appoints the Chairperson and four persons with the experience in law, financial analysis, accounting, forensic auditing and financial investigations.
From the above it is clear that the Board is qualified enough even without reminding them of the law to work in a professional manner.
But Mary Chirwa-Tshuma contends that Act No.4 of 2016 section 3(e), (i) and section 5 (h) and (j) empowers FIC to make the findings public only if FIC protects the identity of such persons or entities. Ms Tshumba states that her reports will be rendered irrelevant if she publishes them but is not acted upon by Law Enforcement Agencies.
But this is not true as after every Trends Report the FIC has put out, there comes a leakage of names and entities.
Ms Tshuma knows that she is grandstanding with *Raw information*, *Unverified information* and *Information that requires follow up with Law Enforcement Agencies*. She knows *FIC is NOT a law enforcement agency*. She knows *FIC has no powers to prosecute or even call witnesses*.
Lastly, we challenge FIC which seeks to play to the gallery to tell Zambians what they have done about exposing the Saturnia offshore accounts. We challenge them to tell Zambians whether they have any information on the Paradise papers, and whether there are any Zambians involved, and if so the extent of involvement.
PF Media Director