Centre for Trade Policy and Development executive director Isaac Mwaipopo says threats to clamp down operations of the Financial Intelligence Center (FIC) are likely to intensify in 2018.

Commenting on Lusaka lawyer Lewis Mosho’s threats to privately prosecute FIC Director General Mary Tshuma on corruption acts alleged to have been committed in her past employment, Mwaipopo observed that those involved in illegal financial activities were scared of being exposed and would do everything possible to get rid of institutions like the FIC.

“Threats to clamp down the operations of the Financial Intelligence Center will continue and actually going into 2018, we are likely to see more pressure piling on the Financial Intelligence Center, not because that they are doing a bad job, no. FIC has actually been doing a very commendable job, it’s just that the individuals and cooperate institutions that are doing illegal things would be under so much pressure to ensure that any institution that is tracking them or having an idea of the dealings they are involved in would want to ensure that they get such institutions or individuals out of their way,” Mwaipopo said.

“We would like to urge the FIC to remain strong and resolute. The work that they are doing is commendable and from the Civil Society Organisations like we have mentioned in the past, we stand ready to support the work that the FIC is doing. This is because we believe firmly that the work that they are doing will go a long way in helping to improve public finance management in this country. Currently, the country has continued to face a number of challenges and right now as we speak, we have noted with concern the increasing number of cholera cases and it is on record the President was actually indicating that if it means the country borrowing resources to sort out problems, they will go to borrow, which speaks to the financing challenges that this country has.”

Mwaipopo called on government to protect the FIC and empower it with capacity to fight individuals and cooperate institutions involved in illegal transactions.

“If there is an opportunity that we can take as country to close up the loopholes that lead to financial leakages and if there are individuals and cooperate institutions that are doing illegal transactions or they are involved in illicit financial flows, there will be need to track them down and stop such because the country has continued to lose colossal sums of money, resources that are just benefiting a few individuals at the expense of the majority. Going into 2018, we see these challenges and pressures continuing and we would want to appeal to government to support initiatives such as the Financial Intelligence Center and there will be need to actually come through to the FIC and ensure that the work that they are doing is protected as it promotes accountability in the way finances are managed, not only within institutions but it also helps to improve the rating of a country,” he said.

Meanwhile, reiterated the need the need for FIC to have powers to name and shame criminals.

“We would also want to appeal that the role of the FIC be further strengthened like we always advocated, there is need actually to ensure that the Financial Intelligence Center starts going a step further to ensure that the names of institutions and individuals who have been identified to be involved in transactions that would be suspicious are published. This would be important for the institution and for the country to actually know those individuals and institutions and if those institutions are clean, we have law enforcement agencies where those institutions and individuals can be cleared. And once they get that clearance, there is no one who is going to follow them again and it also helps should we see an individual issuing or starting up a case against the Financial Intelligence Center, we might be able to know if that individual would be part of the suspicious transactions that the Financial Intelligence Center has been talking about or we might be able to know if at all the cases that might be raised against the Financial Intelligence Center are genuine,” said Mwaipopo.