Zambians who are linking the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Trends Report to the regional Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) are being mischievous because the two have no relationship at all, says senior accountant Victor Nyasulu.

And Nyasulu has observed that Mauritius is rejecting the money laundering revelations contained in the MER because most money laundering activities are done in that country.

Mauritius’ Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, Dharmendar Sesungkur, appealed to his Zambian counterpart, Margaret Mwanakatwe, last week to reject the MER done by the Secretariat of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).

ESAAMLG is a regional body that subscribes to global standards on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation.

According to a letter dated June 25, 2018, and delivered to High Commissioner Mwamba, Mauritius strongly objected to the MER, requesting Zambia and other member-states to reject the report.

Mauritius doubted the accuracy and completeness of the information submitted by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

However, commenting on the letter, Nyasulu insisted that Zambia should not embrace Mauritius’ advice because each country needed to fight its own battles regarding money laundering and corruption, and also dismissed any links between the MER Report and the FIC Trends Report.

“I fear that people are trying to discredit the FIC Report by putting out of context this issue of Mauritius. We attended the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) in Tanzania, that’s where Mauritius was to make a case because they didn’t like the rating they got from [the] report, which was done by the assessors from the region and there are ways in which you can protest. So, the way they are doing it, and the way it’s now pushing Zambia, it’s clear that politicians want to deliberately confuse the protest by Mauritius with the FIC Report here. Mauritius is protesting, and they are supposed to protest to the ESAAMLG itself and Zambia is not supposed to use that to sort of hit back at the FIC Report. Zambia must ignore that and leave Mauritius to fight for its own issues on the report,” Nyasulu advised in an interview with News Diggers! yesterday.

“Zambia must not be seen to be siding with Mauritius without proper perspective, why? Because right now, the assessors are here in Zambia. They came on the 25th of June and they will go on the 10th of July, and people are being assessed. I have appeared on behalf of ZICA [Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants], the pension and insurance have been appearing, everybody is appearing before the assessors. So, that’s what Zambia must concentrate on; to defend its fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, instead of having Zambia’s High Commissioner [to South Africa, Emmanuel Mwamba] sending a protest letter to the Minister of Finance here trying to fight for Mauritius. We understand why Mauritius is bickering because most money launderers use Mauritius. We can’t be part to that or we will be jeopardised. When economic sanctions come, we are the ones who will be suffering, Mauritius will have to look at its own issues. So, the protest by Mauritius must be rejected by the Zambian government, it must not be used to undermine the FIC Report.”

And Nyasulu castigated those who were likening the MER with the FIC Trends Report, which highlighted unprecedented levels of theft of public resources, released in May, calling them mischievous.

“If you look in the Zambia Daily Mail and you read the Times of Zambia for today [Monday], you will see how deliberately some media in this country are trying to make those two things as if they are together. Mauritius as a government is protesting at the latest Mutual Evaluation Report, which they have gotten from ESAAMLG. Then mischievously, some people here are trying to say that that protest is supposed to take away from the FIC Report that comes from Zambia’s FIC. So, that’s something that needs to be watched very carefully because Mauritius is protesting against its Mutual Evaluation Report. Zambia will get its second Mutual Evaluation Report after this evaluation which is going on right now. So, that protest by Mauritius should not give government a basis for doubting the FIC Report from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) here. The Mauritius protest is simply a contradiction of the MER report and has nothing to do with anybody doubting Zambia’s Trends Report,” insisted Nyasulu.

“So, those who are linking the MER report to the FIC Report are being mischievous. They are being mischievous because they are trying to find supporters. You remember what Mr Alexander Chikwanda said? Mr Chikwanda publicly said on ZNBC [Sunday Interview] that the FIC Trends Report and the Auditor General’s Report contain sensationalism! Mauritius is saying the same thing using different words, but Mauritius is referring to a Mutual Evaluation Report, which Zambia… Zmabia has had one Mutual Evaluation Report 10 years ago and we are going to have the second one, which will come out in 2019 after the current situation. So, people should not be too excited to say; ‘you see, even Mauritius is doubting what the FIU has written’ no, that letter of Mauritius written to Mr Mwamba and other SADC countries is Mauritius’ own fight for a better rating in mutual evaluation. So, I would advise that Zambia concentrates on taking action by the law enforcement agencies and also defending itself so that we can get a better rating. Because if we don’t get a better rating, then we will be just like Mauritius who are trying to campaign and politicise the Report.”