Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Rueben Lifuka has urged President Edgar Lungu to rescind the appointment of Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) board members with questionable characters.

And Lifuka says the appointment of the new board was ill-planned as it follows numerous attacks against the centre, particularly by the government and ruling PF officials.

Meanwhile, Lifuka described the outgoing Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) board as one that raised public awareness on key financial trends.

Lifuka said this in a statement as he responded to a press query from News Diggers.

“We note that there has been public outcry on the integrity and suitability on one or two members of the board appointed by the President. We want to underscore that FIC should enjoy a reputation which is not questioned or jaundiced by the weak ethical standing of those appointed to serve on the Board. There have been allegations that one of the Board members has a previous conviction and therefore lacks the moral standing to serve on such a distinguished board. If indeed these allegations are true, this will speak poorly of the political judgment of the appointing authority and a serious indictment on the type of due diligence and vetting done before such appointments are made. FIC deserves men and women of integrity and the Centre will suffer irreparable damage to its image and standing, both locally and internationally, if it has individuals of questionable character serving on its Board,” Lifuka stated.

He said President Lungu should rescind the appointment of some of the board members who would destroy the reputation of the FIC.

“There is absolutely no justification why the appointing authority should invariably seek to jeopardise the good work of the FIC by appointing individuals who will attract unnecessary attention to their past activities. We want to urge President Lungu to rescind the appointment of any of these Board members whose current and previous conduct will not serve the FIC well. We want to remind the appointing authority that he should resist the temptation to populate Boards of government and quasi government bodies with party cadres. Zambia is not short of highly qualified and reputable professionals from different backgrounds, who could serve on the FIC Board,” Lifuka added.

He urged the appointing authority to keep away any unsavoury characters on the new board in order to maintain Zambia’s favour from the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.

“Zambia was in 2018 admitted to be a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and this development was hailed as an important one which would improve investor confidence in Zambia’s financial system and the country’s commitment to fight money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. We should not lose focus on this critical development and Zambia should not fall out of favour with the community of practice simply because a weak board which could be compromised in the discharge of its functions. Admittedly, there are some very good persons who have been appointed but their long standing reputations maybe hampered by some few misplaced appointments. The appointing authority should do the morally right thing and keep away from the FIC, any unsavoury characters. We need a strong independent FIC and one which will continue to operate in the service of the general public and not one which seeks to serve the narrow interests of Politically Exposed Persons,” he stated.

Lifuka also emphasized on the need for the new FIC board to remain insulated from political interference.

“The Financial Intelligence Centre, has under the leadership of the outgoing Board, managed to raise public awareness of key trends which relate to money laundering, terrorism financing and more specifically corruption. The FIC has demonstrated a desire to effectively play its role as an independent administrative authority which receives and processes information as serves a buffer between the financial and law enforcement communities,” he urged.

Meanwhile, Lifuka described the outgoing Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) board as one that raised public awareness on key financial trends.

“FIC in Zambia, under extraordinary circumstances has attracted odium from strange quarters, notably from government and ruling party officials, mainly for playing its role. The changes in the board comes against this background when some of those in power have been baying for blood of the Director General merely for releasing the Trends Analysis reports. We do not want to assume that there is ill intention by government in making these changes but out of the abundance of caution, we want to emphasise that the FIC Board should remain insulated from political interference,” stated Lifuka.