Lusaka-based chartered accountant Victor Nyasulu has called on government to capacitate Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) with the necessary funding to enable them investigate financial crimes as soon as they are reported.
And Nyasulu has wondered why John Kasanga is still acting board chairperson of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) even after four years of diligence service to the country.
Commenting on government’s bitter reaction towards the findings of the FIC’s 2018 Trends Report, which highlighted how Zambia lost approximately of K6.1 billion through various illicit financial flows, Nyasulu said government needed to release funding to LEAs to enable them swing into action on those cited in the report.
Nyasulu feared that Zambians would lose confidence in the FIC reports, like they have on the Auditor General’s reports, if no action was taken against those cited for financial irregularities.
“Mr John Kasanga is saying that FIC is satisfied with the dossier that they have provided, but it looks to me that there may be financial capacity issues with the LEAs that is stopping them from moving. So, my appeal to the State is, instead of trashing the report, we should concentrate on making sure that the LEAs do their job on the findings, it’s for everyone’s good. Those who are not guilty will be cleared, their names will be cleared and those who need to be brought to book will be brought to book,” Nyasulu advised.
“The accountancy profession is about public interest and accountability and the FIC has brought transparency and we need to turn this transparency into accountability of those who are powerful and who are rich but have been involving themselves in criminal activities. So, as an accountant, I feel duty-bound to encourage and push and earnestly appeal for the State to be behind the Law Enforcement Agencies so that we can clean our country of all the financial crimes that threaten the social economic stability in the country.”
Nyasulu also regretted that financial crimes had actually increased in 2018 in terms of value as compared to what was recorded in 2017.
“In 2018, we just have 80 cases, which have been sent to the LEAs, but in terms of suspected effects on the economy, we are now at K6.1 billion from the K4.5 billion recorded in 2017. So, one of the contributing factors is this slow pace at which the LEAs are working. Can we be helped to understand what their constraint is? Last year, I remember the President said ‘there are no names in there (in the FIC report) and let’s wait for the LEAs to do their job,’ but if they don’t do their job as quickly as they ought to, we will see that this leakage can even be worse next year because then, it becomes just like the way the Auditor General’s reports have become,” he said.
“We don’t want that, we must take this differently. The report is out so the LEAs need to have more resources given to them so that they can come to the end of these cases. And they should report, they are not reporting as to what happened to the one which they were given that other year…who is being investigated? The LEAs, please, when we report something to the police, they don’t hide your name even if you are a suspect. They tell you ‘we have arrested Mr Nyasulu for suspected burglary’.”
“So, once the FIC has reported, there is nothing that stops the LEAs from saying that ‘we are investigating ‘Mr Nyasulu for drug-trafficking.’ And when you put pressure like that, you even name people, it puts pressure on everybody in the Judiciary and all concerned to move as fast as they must.”
And Nyasulu said government needed to confirm Kasanga as FIC board chairperson because he was an exemplary professional.
“I am also surprised that the FIC chairman is still acting! How can you act for four years as chairman? What’s the problem in conforming a man as brave as chairman John Kasanga? We must commend the FIC chair because there are not very many parastatal chairmen that can stand up for their CEOs. So, to see Mr Kasanga stand up and not shy away…because we have seen elsewhere when there is trouble like this, some of the chairmen of statutory bodies will just wash their hands on you to leave you to be fired or to be harassed. But here is a good example of a brave chairman in a statutory body, that’s what Zambia needs,” said Nyasulu.