By the Analyst
Everytime the Annual Trends Report is released, the public gets both excited at the revelations but also get indignant and outraged at the alleged extent of abuse of state resources or rise of corruption in government when the Financial Intelligence Centre releases its annual report.
However the Trends Report does not connote guilty on the parties mentioned or the reported suspicious transactions cited.
If adequate information is not provided on the nature of the work of the financial intelligency agency as prescribed by the law or the process of its work, Zambians will assume that for example, $520million of their money was stolen in 2018! When in fact not.
The Trends Report merely documents transactions deemed suspicious by prescribed thresholds set by the SI no. 52 of 2016 where banks, Law Firms and Estate Agencies and other reporting entities are directed to report any transactions above $5,000.00 for individuals and $10,000.00 for corporates and institutions.
Similarly any transfer of funds across the border exceeding $5,000 should be reported.
So if you have done any such transactions, it’s already classified as suspicious and sits on the data base of the FIU Agency.
It is for this reason that a report is compiled annually to show trends.
But more verification is required. It is for this reason that the reports are handed over to Law Enforcement Agencies to verify such suspicious transaction and to conduct possible arrests and prosecutions in the event that a crime was committed.
The Financial Intelligence Centre is exactly that!!an intelligence wing specialized in documenting and compiling suspicious financial transactions that are beyond the prescribed threshold.
So it’s not a law enforcement agency, it does NOT investigate, does NOT prosecute and the information it gathers requires verification as it is collected from third parties(banks, law firms, estate agencies).
It is also the reason it does ot name names or release identity of those it has cited…this information remains raw at this stage.
Western cooperating partners are interested in its work especially that they helped persuade countries to set up such agencies to help combat the rise of global terrorism and money laundering.
Zambia operationalized a currency transaction reporting threshold in January 2017 following the issuance of the Financial Intelligence Centre (Prescribed Thresholds) Regulations.
These regulations were issued through Statutory Instrument (S.I) No. 52 of 2016.
The S.I. requires reporting entities to report all currency transactions to the Financial Intelligence Centre equal to or above US$10,000 or its equivalent.
This is an automated system and therefore does not imply any illegality in what is reported but helps the agency’s strategic analysis.
In 2018 the Centre analysed 176 suspicious transaction reports of which 80 were disseminated to Law Enforcement Agencies on suspicions covering; suspected tax evasion, fraud, corruption and money laundering.
The total value of the suspicious transactions K6.1m or $520m.
So it is safe to say $520million of public funds were stolen in 2018?
Does it require follow up?
So what is the Financial intelligence Centre (FIC)
The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has published the Annual Trends Report for 2018 documenting what is currently prevailing in the Financial Systems in Zambia in terms of AML/CFT related matters.
The trends report was launched by the Attorney General of Zambia Mr. Likando Kalaluka S.C on 31st May 2019.
The Finacial Intelligence Centre(FIC) was established as a sole statutory agency dedicated to providing timely, high quality, impartial and actionable financial intelligence to law enforcement agencies and foreign designated authorities in order to eliminate financial crimes in Zambia.
The Financial Intelligence Centre (the Centre) is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Government of the Republic of Zambia which was established in November, 2010 by an Act of Parliament- the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, No. 46 of 2010.’’
The Centre is the sole designated National Agency mandated to receive, request, analyze and disseminate disclosure of information concerning suspected Money Laundering (ML), Terrorist Financing (TF) and other serious offences to competent authorities for investigations with the view of assisting with combatting money laundering or terrorism financing and other serious offences.