If government fails to protect the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), then it will be an indication that the State is protecting certain individuals who are under investigation, Premier Consult chief executive officer Professor Oliver Saasa has said.
Lusaka lawyer Lewis Mosho, through his law firm, recently wrote to FIC Director General Mary Tshuma, laying out charges for which he intends to prosecute her – a move that is seen to target her removal from office.
“We have instructions to inform you that the offences for which you are soon to be prosecuted relate to the period when you served at the Drug Enforcement Commission Anti-Money Laundry Investigations Unit (AMLIU),” stated Mosho in his later dated December 13, 2017.
“Our client further states that you should not go to town shopping sympathy by misleading state institutions and the public, but that you should wait for the prosecution to commence and defend yourself like any other Zambian national before the law.”
But Prof Saasa observed that the harassment of FIC officials was suspicious.
“The Financial Intelligence Center is an institution that has been established by government and its mandate is very clear in terms of investigation of financial crimes. In the course of investigations, you will still find people that will feel injured because of the transgressions they know might resurface in the public domain. And so they will do everything in their power to threaten and intimidate the people who are doing the right thing. My call and advice is very simple; this FIC is a government institution, it is the duty of the government to protect the institution, and while they know that there are risks involved in this kind of work, government itself must protect them because the mandate of government is to ensure that institutions that have been established are protected as long as they perform their responsibilities as per enabling legislation by law,” Prof Saasa explained.
He feared that government officials were involved in financial crimes, hence opting to be quiet about the repulsion between Mosho and Tshuma.
“Well, it might mean that the people that might be subjected to investigations are people that are within government or in the politics; but that should not stop them from pursuing their responsibilities. It’s the responsibility of government as the owner or shareholder in that institution to ensure that the due processes are allowed to follow without intimidation. So definitely, anyone who is interested in seeing cleanliness in terms of governance, cleanliness in terms of abuse of power and authority and cleanliness within the private sector, cleanliness in how we conduct our national affairs; should actually protect the integrity and interests as enshrined in the Financial Intelligence Act,”Prof Saasa said.
He regretted that staff members of the FIC were being threatened by people using unknown numbers.
“If someone uses unknown numbers to call staff members at the Financial Intelligence Centre then people will immediately know that they want to hide themselves, but where you feel you are injured and you want to take recitation – which is fine – you must come out in the open and give your complaint without threatening because any threat against an individual of a law abiding institution is a threat to the Constitutionality of that institution,” said Prof Saasa.
“For me, if government fails to protect the FIC, then it will appear as if there are people within government, in terms of those that are responsible for law enforcement, that are protecting certain individuals. This would be a clear definition of corrupt power and authority and I believe that this must be condemned by anybody who is right thinking and cares about the restoration of justice in the country.”