Physical threats do come but my team and I have sat down and resolved that we shall work and do our work until the last day and if it means dying for mother Zambia, we will do that, FIC director general Mary Chirwa has vowed.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary Dr Emmanuel Pamu says corruption levels in the country are worrying.
Speaking when she appeared before the parliamentary Committee on Cabinet Affairs, Friday, Chirwa said everyone at FIC was prepared to die for doing what was right.
“Physical threats do come but I think with my team, we have sat together and we know that we shall work and do our work until the last day. If it means dying for mother Zambia, we will do that chair,” Chirwa said.
Chirwa said the FIC trends reports have never jeopardized any investigations.
“These [trends] reports can never jeopardize investigations in the sense that if people really want to read the trends report, the sections are very clear in terms of what we are talking about. The report may be small but we are able to see which areas are on cybercrime, on environmental crimes, we brought all these issues out. So, if people say that the report jeopardizes investigations, then it means we are jeopardizing our own work which is not what we do and not what this report is intended for. And it doesn’t do that. If there is anywhere where the law enforcement had a particular case where they feel that has been jeopardized, I am sure they can come and we can look at it. But I don’t think there is any evidence in the past five years that we have produced these reports,” she said.
“The trends report should not be confused with the annual report. Our reports are before the Ministry of Finance every year before 31st March. So these are two different reports that go to the minister, the annual report and the trends report that is used for awareness and it goes to the stakeholders.”
On the challenges faced, Chirwa complained about the misinformation on the role of the FIC.
“We have come to understand that there is a lack of understanding of the role of the FIC by some stakeholders and it’s our role to ensure that that is well carried out. We also feel that there is misinformation of the relative role of the stakeholders,” she said.
Chirwa, however, recommended that the centre should be connected to a lot of databases in order for it to efficiently deal with complex financial crimes.
“We need to promote coordination and cooperation between the FIC and Law Enforcement Agencies to effectively combat money laundering and terrorist financing at the national level particularly in relation to complex financial crimes. Law enforcement agencies need to be capacitated in order to use financial intelligence from the FIC to pursue criminal proceeds and TF (Terrorist Financing). Chair, being capacitated may be financial, issues of systems or it may be issues of increasing the numbers in these institutions. [There is also need to] capacitate the FIC to enable it to enhance its analytical capacity which is essential to support the pursuit of complex financial crimes. We need a lot of databases that we need to be connected to for us to do a more efficient work at the rate that we would love to,” said Chirwa.
And Chirwa said FIC is not worried about fears that the centre will be swallowed by other Law Enforcement Agencies because Vice-President Inonge Wina assured them that Bill 10 does not intend to abolish it.
Meanwhile, responding to “yes or no” questions when he appeared before the same committee on Friday, Dr Pamu said there were worrying corruption levels in the country.
When committee chairperson, who is also Mongu Central member of parliament Dr Mwilola Imakando asked him; “Would you say that the levels of corruption in Zambia are worrying?” Dr Pamu responded in the affirmative.
Dr Pamu who also refuted claims that there was political interference in the work of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).
And asked if the FIC was effective in contributing to the fight against financial crimes, Dr Pamu said “Yes”.