The Centre for Trade Policy and Development this morning appeared before the Committee on Cabinet Affairs to make a submission on the Role of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) in the fight against Corruption and other Financial Crimes.
According to the statement released to the media by Mwaka Nyimbili, CTPD Information and Communications Specialist, corruption in Zambia is a big issue and continues to undermine the country’s ordinary citizens’ ability to adequately access public services such as health, clean water, proper housing, education, etc.
The situation of corruption in Zambia has been worsening and increased by a point from 38 in 2016, to 37 in 2017, and by two (2) points from 37 in 2017 to 35 points in 2018 (Transparency International, 2018). Of the 180 countries, Zambia was ranked at number 105, indicating high levels of corruption (Ibid, 2018). As such, citizens continue to lose trust in public service delivery in the country.
In its submission to the Committee, CTPD Executive Director Isaac Mwaipopo called for the protection of the Financial Intelligence Centre as this will help address insinuations by the General Public that it is operating outside its mandate.
Mr. Mwaipopo observed that the Financial Intelligence Centre is operating according to the Mandate it was established and that there is need to strengthen the functions of the FIC in addressing the weak coordination between the Centre and Law Enforcement Agencies.
He, however, added that the FIC is well-positioned to contribute to the fight against corruption because it is a key agency in domestic and international efforts to tackle money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
“Zambian FIC receives and analyses suspicious financial transactions which are then passed on to law enforcement agencies for onward investigations and possible prosecution where sufficient cause is established. In this case the role of the FIC is to be a provider of information to other agencies. What the other agencies do with the information they are provided with is entirely out of the control of the FIC’’, Mr. Mwaipopo said.
Going by the findings from CTPD research on the role of the FIC, Mr. Mwaipopo recommended the following to the committee:
(1) The need for increased funding to the FIC to enable it to carry out its mandate effectively.
(2) There is an urgent need for strengthened coordination between the various law enforcement agencies and the FIC to ensure increased chances of success in prosecution and conviction of cases brought up for investigation.
(3) Financial crimes are complex and fighting them requires an agency such as FIC to be well equipped with the latest technologies and training on fighting and tracking financial crimes. This therefore calls for increased budgetary support for trainings. (4) There is need for more protection from abuse of the members of staff at the FIC from members of society and politicians. In the past, the members of the FIC have been subjected to verbal and other forms of abuse for simply carrying out their work as required by the law.
CTPD Information and Communications Specialist