Rainbow Party general secretary Wynter Kabimba says the Drug Enforcement Commission should stop attacking the Financial Intelligence Centre and instead name the people who are being investigated for financial crimes.

On Friday, DEC commissioner Alita Mbahwe threw shade at the FIC reports, saying they were not supposed to be disseminated to the public because that jeopardised investigations.

“While we appreciate the role of Financial Intelligence Centre is to educate the public and reporting entities of their obligations as well as inform them of measures to detect, prevent and deter money laundering and financing of terrorism proliferation, we are of the view that this report should not be published in the manner it has been in the past few years. This, therefore, means that the FIC should have different information prepared for their different audiences and not the current trend. We are concerned with the publication of raw data as it actually compromises investigations by law enforcement agencies. This is because the same intelligence information disseminated to law enforcement agencies is also disseminated to the public and therefore jeopardises investigations as the perpetrators are alerted and begin to destroy vital evidence,” said Mbahwe.

“We have on several occasions engaged the Financial Intelligence Centre on the need to review their modus operandi to avoid compromising investigations as well as creating false impressions. It is our hope that steps will be taken in this regard because part of the assessment criteria for money laundering compliance in international standards is the effective collaboration between Law Enforcement Agencies and the Financial Intelligence Centre. There is need for effective collaboration and coordination if we are to fight offenses such as corruption, tax evasion, fraud, drug tracking and money laundering in Zambia. So if the current provisions in our laws are causing harm instead of causing good, there is need to review those areas of those laws because it is very clear [that] the FIC is intelligence. They should feed Law Enforcement Agencies with intelligence information. It is not for them to investigate but they are currently, somehow involved in investigation which ends up affecting the final conclusion of the reports that are forwarded to the Law Enforcement Agencies.”

But in an interview, Kabimba said the commission was misleading the public because there was no way sanitised reports which FIC circulated to the public could affect investigations.

“I think DEC is misleading the public but it is important for everybody to understand that it’s a mandate of the FIC to gather intelligence data in terms of financial transactions. That is the mandate of the FIC, for intelligence gathering. But then, they are responsible to the public. So they publish their reports in two parts. The report which is given to the public or read to the public is what is called a sanitised report, and there is a second part of that report which contains the names of the actual suspects. That is the document which goes to Law Enforcement agencies. So there is nothing wrong that the FIC has done,” Kabimba argued.

He challenged DEC to name those it was investigating for financial crimes.

“What DEC is supposed to be telling us now is who are those people that are being investigated? because the DEC has a mandate [to investigate]. If the FIC discloses my name, I will sue them for defamation [because] they are not an investigating agency but if DEC says that ‘we are investigating Mr Kabimba for money laundering’ that allegation or pronouncement does not fall within the law of defamation and I can’t sue them for defamation. If the police announce that they are investigating me for a matter, I can’t sue them for defamation even if they came back and said ‘sorry, our investigation has disclosed that Mr Wynter Kabimba did not commit a murder.’ I don’t see why everybody wants to pass a back to the FIC and play to the gallery. There is nothing wrong that the FIC has done,” said Kabimba.

“In my view, the FIC is working within their and Act their mandate. [Giving the report to the public] doesn’t jeopardise their (DEC) investigations because that report which goes to them is not the same report which is given to the public. The FIC gives the Law Enforcement Agencies details of the names of the people suspected to have been involved in those suspicious transactions. So if DEC understands the mandate of the FIC, it can’t be quarrelling with them. It must just proceed and carry its own job. We can’t be having this argument [which] we had last year and we should be having the same argument this year. We are wasting time. We want to know who is involved, and DEC is the one that has the details, ACC would be the ones that have the details, ZRA would be the ones that have the details.”