President Edgar Lungu has said the law regulating the operations of the Financial Intelligence Centre needs to be revisited because it is currently creating “poison” among government officials because it is not naming those implicated in financial crimes.
President Lungu, who was speaking yesterday evening on arrival at City Airport from his two-day working visit to the Copperbelt, said not naming those involved in alleged wrongdoing was fertile ground for speculation and gossip.
“That law needs to be revisited it is just creating poison among us. So do you know anyone in that report who stole money or stole six Billion or whatever?…I’ve got it (the report), I had it before it was released, but which Minister was mentioned there? Tell me, one two three four five (beckoning to surrounding journalists) which minister was mentioned there? This is where the problem is, there is too much fertile ground for speculation,” President Lungu told journalists when asked to comment on the FIC 2018 trends report which reveals that K6.1 billion worth of questionable transactions were recorded in the year under review.
“So we have to look at the law and ask ourselves is this serving us; because it just says “PEP” Politically Exposed Person did this. Now we can’t afford having ‘Kachepa’ because that is a Kachepa for me. Kachepa is a Gossiper. What the Financial Intelligence Centre is supposed to do is to report to ZRA, to report to Zambia Police, to report Drug Enforcement Commission Anti Money Laundering unit etc. Now if I go ‘Umu mumunzi mwafa munthu; so ba mupaya ni baja, sini baziba sininga ulule, it is not helping us’. (If I just say in this village there is a murder- somebody has been killed, the perpetrator is a certain someone but I cannot reveal their identity, it is not helping us).”
He said he took time to study the report before his visit to the Copperbelt.
“As for me, I have got that report I’ve had it for a while. Before I went to the Copperbelt I took time to study the Principle Law- the Financial Intelligence Act, I looked at the Regulations. I think we have to sit down and agree and think through this thing. I know that what is happening over there is gossip, it is not helping us, it is not helping the Republic, and it is not helping all those well-meaning people who are stake holders. I can’t go public and say Politically Exposed Person did this and then I leave it to people to construct it –no. What I know is, is that; that law is very clear; it says that unit (FIC) will render their report to the Minister; the Minister will table it before parliament ; but Meanwhile as they go, they discover friends, they’ll say… there’s a fire there, the police will move in… there’s a fire there, the DEC will move… Anti Money Laundering unit, ZRA …That’s how come we have recovered some things for ZRA to follow through,” President Lungu said.
“But what we are seeing is fuelling gossip. I am telling you what the law says and what I know. What is happening is if I see a thief stealing, I go to the police and I say that man is stealing I suspect so, the police are supposed to move in and arrest him. If I see somebody doing corruption I will go to ACC, but I cannot go public and say it before I even tell the police; or I tell the police and the police don’t act; if the police don’t act or ACC don’t act I am supposed to query and say why are you not acting when I have already told you? So the law has to be revisited so that the FIC- if they see anything wrong, they tell the police, and if the police don’t act or the ACC don’t act, they follow it up and say ba police ta bauza (we’ve informed the police) about something wrong we’ve seen but they are not doing anything.”
He said the FIC report was mind game.
“…and for me, tell me which Minister? And if FIC tells you that things are wrong, they should be questioning their brother or sister agencies to say ‘we told you that things are going wrong here, but why haven’t you acted?’ Do you know anybody? You don’t! But if you read through the act with the regulations, you get to know. I encourage fellow citizens to read … to understand what the law says; don’t just speak on the basis of social media,” President Lungu said.
“I want to believe that we all mean well. Those that don’t mean well should be in jail. Tell me which minister is mentioned? Ask them which unit did you refer this matter to?”