CTPD executive director Isaac Mwaipopo says government should extend the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC)’s mandate and give it powers to reveal names of individuals and institutions that it investigates.
Speaking to News Diggers in an interview regarding the work of the FIC and the challenges it was facing, Mwaipopo observed that it was not enough for the FIC to be just indicating that some politically exposed individuals had been involved in financial crimes without disclosing their names.
“As the Center for Trade Policy and Development, some of the things that we would want to highlight is the need to re-look at the mandate of the Financial intelligence centre so that instead of giving them powers to prosecute as has been recommendations from other institutions, they should enhance their powers to actually name the operations, institutions or individuals that they have identified through the analysis who are involved in money laundering, corruption and things that are qualified to be illicit financial transactions. We think that that will enhance the fight against corruption and illicit financial flows in that the general public will have a clear idea in terms of who is actually at the centre of this whole scourge that we are facing,” Mwaipopo said.
“It’s not enough to just say ‘politically exposed individuals’, it’s not enough to just say ‘institutions’ but if those institutions can be named for for everyone to know…and it is actually an appeal to all those who have got the powers and mandate which include oversight institutions like Parliament, we urge them to consider revisiting the Act that governs operations of the financial intelligence centre that they can increase there powers and make them be in a position to go beyond naming so that they could at least clearly state who is at the helm of a scam.”
Mwaipopo explained that it was difficult for people to identify who, among the many politically individuals in the country, was involved in criminal activities with the current mandate of FIC.
“It’s very difficult to tell who is involved in criminal activities because we have various politically exposed individuals and there are some who just comment on what is happening in the country, we have got politically active individuals that are part of the current government and those that are in the opposition. So it just creates this conversation or this blanket picture to say within the political spectrum, there are individuals that actually might be involved in illicit financial flows or corrupt activities but if the report goes a step further to say who in the political space is involved in these activities, it would actually help to start reversing the trend in that people will actually be afraid to engage in such dealings for fear of being exposed,” Mwaipopo said.
Meanwhile, Mwaipopo regretted that there was no political will on the part of government to support FIC despite the institution doing a commendable job.
“FIC is actually doing a very commendable job in a very difficult environment, in an environment where there is no political will to fight corruption and issues around financial flows. We have seen a number of reports that have come out and have demonstrated abuse of public funds and that there is actually a big problem with the way public resources are being utilised and some of the things that are happening are actually depriving the country of revenues that can help to finance development. But from all these reports that we have continued to see, we have not seen commitment that can help to ensure that the trends are reversed,” said Mwaipopo.
“It can also be good if the reports that the Financial Intelligence Center submits can be made public so that people can see who is involved, if you look at the Auditor General’s report, it has details of actual individuals and the ministries that have misappropriated funds and there is also a record for a system where beyond publishing the Auditor General’s report, you can also see that people would be summoned to the Public Accounts committee. But with the FIC their work only ends at making submissions and the public doesn’t know who exactly is involved.”