Illegal small-scale mining where foreigners have been purchasing stolen or illegally-mined copper ore from small-scale miners continued last year, with amounts in excess of K5 billion that was spent, according to the FIC.

The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) 2017 Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing Trends Report, reveals that illegal small-scale mining was rampant last year, with amounts in excess of K5 billion detected in illegal transactions.

“The Centre has continued to note the trend of foreigners purchasing stolen or illegally-mined copper ore from small-scale miners. In most instances, the foreigners buy the slimes and copper ore for cash. It was also noted that there were some cases of illegal takeovers of mining licenses from the locals. The amount detected was estimated to be in excess of K5 billion,” the FIC stated in its latest report availed to stakeholders last Thursday.

In other trends, the agriculture sector was also spotted as an area where illicitly-obtained funds amounting to over K80 million was involved in the maize, fish and fertilizer trade, among others.

“Maize, soya beans, cotton, fish and fertilizer sales were the most frequently purchased/sold during the period under review. A total of K80,245,779.60 was involved. A number of STRs [Suspicious Transaction Reports] analysed in 2017 were on individuals trading in maize. Some of these individuals used the maize trade to comingle funds suspected to be obtained illicitly. It is suspected that most of this activity is not taxed,” the report stated.

Meanwhile, the FIC also noticed last year that many of the new casinos and betting stores that are mushrooming around the country are not even licensed, and could possibly be used as conduits for money laundering.

“Most recently, the country has seen a rise in the establishment of casinos and betting stores. Most of these stores are unlicensed with many not being registered with local authorities, such as the Zambia Revenue Authority, or the Licensing Committee under the Ministry of Tourism and Arts,” revealed the FIC.

“Casinos provide an easy way to launder illegally obtained funds as these funds are co-mingled with winnings in these stores.”

The FIC trend reports contain intelligence information on money laundering and other serious financial crimes, which are made available for law enforcement agencies, such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Zambia Police Service, among others, who can then utilize it for successful arrests and prosecution of individuals found wanting.