The Ministry of Finance last month cut funding to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) leading to unpaid salaries for members of staff at the government investigative wing.

And Finance Minister Felix Mutati told News Diggers! yesterday that the Financial Intelligence Centre was just one small unit of the millions that government pays every month.

Sources at the Treasury disclosed that the Ministry of Finance deliberately left out the Financial Intelligence Centre from it’s institutional expenditure for December 2017.

“No money was released to the FIC in December and it was the only government institution that was left out. You can ask the minister how this happened, because he cannot claim that it was a coincidence that after they (FIC) revealed that some criminals with government connections were involved in illicit financial transactions, then suddenly there is no funding for them, no salaries for the employees,” the sources said.

“It’s quite shocking. There should a decent way of punishing a government institution that you don’t want, but denying innocent employees their salaries is really shameless. Now it raises a question to any right thinking person, how far does this go and how much is government willing to switch off it’s own creation in order to abet criminality? It’s disheartening for us who are still serving in this PF government to see the manner in which they are protecting thieves. You the media have to keep exposing these things otherwise we are gone as a country. To be honest with you, it is more frustrating to be in this government than to be outside. What is happening is beyond shocking. Everything has been politicised now.”

The sources said to date, the Treasure had not released money to the Financial Intelligence Centre.

Even as we speak, FIC has not received any funding from government. You can ask them if they have been paid for the last month and today is January what? No payment. What does that mean? That is a statement from government that they don’t want that institution to continue existing. What is left is to dissolve it, they have already been cut off.

FIC director general Mary Tshuma did not pick her phone to confirm the development and FIC acting Board Chairman John Kasanga said it was outside his jurisdiction to “comment on policy matters that are outside the FIC mandate”.

“The FIC or the board have no mandate to speak on those policy matters. The best you could do is to get to the Ministry of Finance on that one; you have to excuse me,” said Kasanga before cutting the line.

The Finance Minister said the FIC was just one small unit.

When asked why his ministry did not fund the FIC in December, Mutati demanded a written press query.

“But how do I answer that question? Send me a written query then we will be able to deal with it. You bring it to my office. I mean, we make so many payments, you would appreciate that this is just one little unit of the government and we make a million payments every month. So I will need to access the system to give a correct answer. Send it to my office and they will give you the figures as well,” said Mutati.

Lusaka Lawyer Lewis Mosho has been attempting to remove Tshuma from the Intelligence Centre in a move that is widely considered a government ploy to neutralise the FIC after it revealed that senior government officials were using fronts to deal in illicit financial transactions involving billion of kwacha.