Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) executive director Mary Chirwa has said she has no problem with the proposed change of the name of the Drug Enforcement Commission to Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) for as long as its mandate remains the same.
And Chirwa says the centre is not only a buffer that receives information and passes it on to other investigative wings without adding value to it.
The proposed constitutional amendment in Article 193 seeks to change the name of the DEC to AML/CFT.
But making a submission on the Bill 10 before the parliamentary select committee in Lusaka, Tuesday, Chirwa, however, expressed fear that the change of name of the DEC to the AML/CFT may duplicate the functions of other existing investigative institutions.
“We have tried to understand whether the proposed amendment to Article 193 is only meant to change the name of the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) or whether it will change its mandate. This understanding is critical for purposes of making meaningful submissions. But as the proposed amendment is drafted, it is not possible to decipher the intention of the drafter. It is not possible to ascertain whether the mandate of this new institution will aim to address some of these challenges as it has not been stated in the amendment that has been proposed,” Chirwa said.
She said in the face of other existing institutions which investigate and prosecute economic and financial crimes, “there is a possibility that the functions of other institutions may end up being duplicated”.
“Such duplicity will result in the already limited resources being further stretched without having any meaningful impact in the country’s fight against economic and financial crimes. It must be highlighted that a lot of progress has already been made and continues to be made within the existing institutional framework,” Chirwa said.
“We submit that in order to better curb economic and financial crimes, the country should focus the available limited resources on dealing with the deficiencies that currently make it difficult for institutions to effectively deal with economic and financial crimes as opposed to creating new institutions.”
Responding to a question from Chembe PF member of parliament Sebastian Kopulande who wanted to know if there was any duplicity between the role of the FIC and DEC, Chirwa said the roles of the two institutions were totally different.
“There is no duplicity whatsoever. FIC does not investigate. We receive, analyze and disseminate. So when we receive and analyse, we need to get more information to substantiate the suspicious transaction that has come from a reporting entity. We are not just a conduit or a buffer that just receives a report and pass it to other institutions. We need to add value for us to be able to see whether that report necessitates an investigation by the law enforcement agencies. Otherwise, we would be paid for nothing,” she said.
Chirwa said as long as the mandate of the FIC or any other law enforcement agency will not be affected by the suggested name change of the DEC, the centre has no problems with the proposal in the Amendment Bill 10.
“As it sits now, unless it is communicated to us through the mandate that this institution will be doing the things that FIC is doing, but as it stands now, we are comfortable that our mandate is safe, we are comfortable that the mandate of DEC remains as it is. Only at a point where we can go into details of what that name comes with, then we can be able to say we are uncomfortable or not. As it stands, if we are assured that it is just the change of name and it’s not change of mandate and that there is nothing that will be conflicting on the mandates of any other law enforcement, chair, we are comfortable as FIC,” said Chirwa.