Financial Intelligence Centre Director General Mary Tshuma says there is need for coordinated efforts in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing because criminal activities have become more sophisticated than ever.

And Tshuma says staff FIC employees will not be shaken by criminals seeking to hide and use proceeds of crime and corruption.

Speaking at the FIC 2nd annual conference on anti-money laundering, countering the financing of terrorism and other financial crimes in Lusaka today, Tshuma said there was need for unified efforts in the fight against financial crimes, adding that financial crimes had destructive consequences on the lives of innocent people.

“Criminal activity is more sophisticated than ever. The financial impact of financial crime is vast but the effects go deeper than simple economics. The full cost of financial crime weighs on normal people; the sick children and elderly who do not receive essential treatment. Lives lost by cutting corners and using substandard building materials; and opportunities lost when young people miss out on education because the money for schooling has been stolen. These costs victimise people in developing countries by discouraging legitimate business and investment. These crimes can deprive government of funds to finance its development,” Tshuma said.

“Beyond monetary terms, financial crimes go even further by undermining the rule of law and thus the very foundations of democracy. These crimes have destructive consequences on the lives of many and can compromise the security of the nation. We need a response that is commensurate to the scale of threat posed by financial and economic crimes. We must make Zambia a hostile environment for those criminals seeking to move, hide and use the proceeds of crime and corruption. A coherent, coordinated and effective commitment to fighting money laundering, terrorist financing, corruption, tax evasion and other financial crimes and to promote intergrity and transparency is now crucial.”

And Tshuma said that the FIC was equal to the task in the fight against financial crimes despite intimidation from criminals.

“The conference is timely as it gives us an opportunity to share ideas on how best we must tackle these crimes. We must do better on this if we really want to future proof our financial system and make Zambia a better place to live in. From the Financial Intelligence Centre, we are determined and committed to contribute in our best way possible in the fight against financial crimes. We are more than equal to this challenge, we remain resilient and focused. We will not be shaken,” she said.

Meanwhile, Tshuma encouraged financial and security institutions to be more vigilant and effective in the execution of their respective mandates.

“While government has established an enabling environment and institution framework on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. Institutions need to be more vigilant and effective in the execution of their mandate. We need to understand the latest trends in techniques for carrying out financial crimes if we are to strategically demise effective counter mechanisms of these financial and economic crimes. So we came here to examine new work and to start a new path together. Much of what you do is unique. Share your experience, your success and your failures. Together we can become smarter and stronger than the criminals who are in our society,” said Tshuma.