Rainbow Party General Secretary Wynter Kabimba says unlike other intelligence gathering wings, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) was created to be accountable to the people.
And Kabimba says there is need for another law enforcement agency which will handle only white collar crimes such as those reported by the FIC because the existing ones lack capacity to fight them.
In an interview, Kabimba said he did not understand why government officials were so uncomfortable with FIC reports, reminding them why the institution was created in the first place.
He said taking away the FIC’s authority to publish sanitized reports to the public would be undermining it’s functions.
“Unlike the state security agency, unlike the Office of the President, unlike the special branch, the special branch is accountable to the President on matters of state security, the FIC is accountable to the public on matters of money laundering because they are informing the public about the possibility of the squandering of (a) state resources and (b) terrorism that may arise from those activities or those suspicious transactions so there is nothing with the FIC telling members of the public that the suspicious transactions that we have looked at or analyzed in this last year, amount to these billions of kwacha which might have been lost through tax evasion for example, there is nothing wrong with that, that is their mandate so the argument that the FIC should stop publishing those reports to the public undermines its mandate and its accountability to members of the public but also, the public should realise that what comes out of the FIC report are just suspicious activities, they are not conclusive in themselves, until the investigative agencies conclusively investigate and find who is wanting and who is not wanting. I think it will undermine its functions because if the FIC are not accountable to the public, then you are removing the pressure that should be brought to bear on those that are in government because some of the people and invariably the people that may be involved may be those in government or would be those in government. So you will be removing that pressure to hold the investigative agencies to account,” Kabimba said.
And Kabimba said the existing law enforcement agencies had no capacity to fight white collar crimes.
“I don’t see why we are getting these quarrels. I take the position that the Financial Intelligence Centre is an important organization in terms of gathering financial intelligence and they are not an investigative agency. They are just there to raise the red flag on transactions which they suspect may be irregular or may be against state security or may boarder on money laundering, that is their mandate! It is not everything that is reported in the Fix report which is true that is why the transactions are referred as suspicious transactions it is therefore the job and duty of investigative agencies such as the Anti Corruption Commission, the Drug Enforcement Commission and to a great extent Zambia Revenue Authority to follow up on those suspicious transactions and satisfy themselves that what the FIC referred to as suspicious transactions was either legal or illegal and if it is legal, clear that individual involved, if it is illegal take appropriate action by way of prosecution. The FIC was not established to investigate white collar crime and the problem that I have had myself is that there is lack of capacity in our investigative agencies to investigate white collar crime because it is a very complicated field and hence my proposal when I was Minister of Justice to the President then, that we must establish what I referred to as the fraud and financial crimes unit where you would train officers in investigating and prosecuting white collar crime that is what they have all over the world,” said Kabimba.
“If you established the fraud and financial crimes unit, it would then be the unit to follow up on these white collar crimes so that they can trace these transactions from Zambia example to where it originated from and be able to satisfy themselves that this was a legal transaction or otherwise…I don’t think that they (existing law enforcement agencies) have trained man power. I don’t think they have trained sufficient man power in white collar crime, I don’t think so, and I can say this from my experience in government, I do not think they have done that and that is why they are timid. That is why they are shy to hold themselves accountable to the public and hence they attempt to apportion the blame to the Financial Intelligence Centre because they want to cover up their own weakness because the DEC is supposed to tell us, if they don’t want to tell us the names, at least tell us how many people are involved from the report of the FIC and when they reach the level of prosecution, they must tell us that ‘these four, five people we are prosecuting are actually the information reignites from the FIC report’. That is the coordination that I think we should see between DEC for example and the FIC.”