Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) has wondered whether the Financial Intelligence Center amendment bill isn’t targeting to clip the powers of the centre.

In an interview, TI-Z executive director Maurice Nyambe hoped that the amendment bill was not a smokescreen for weakening the functions of the FIC.

The Financial Intelligence Center amendment bill passed the first reading stage in Parliament on Tuesday.

“We have noted that the Financial Intelligence Centre (Amendment) Bill 2020 went through First Reading in Parliament on Tuesday and has now been referred to the parliamentary committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs. Our hope as TI-Z is that the proposed amendment is not a smokescreen for clipping the wings of the FIC. We have observed with amusement that the PF government has not been happy with what the FIC has revealed through their Trends Analysis reports, particularly the 2018 one and there were incessant attacks made on the FIC and its leadership by senior government and PF officials in the wake of the release of the 2018 report,” Nyambe said.

“Our hope is that the proposed amendment, whose first objective is ‘to redefine the functions of the Centre’, will not make it more difficult for the FIC to bring into the public domain incidences of financial misconduct particularly by Politically Exposed Persons. We also wish to emphasize that the significance of the FIC in dealing with money laundering and countering terrorism financing should not be diluted through this amendment. These two crimes are getting sophisticated by the day and the FIC should be empowered to meet all the international standards as outlined by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).”

Nyambe said TI-Z would not support any attempts that would turn FIC into a moribund institution.

“Further, the FIC has in the recent past touched on Environmental crimes as a means of money laundering and we are alive to the fact that the allegations of impropriety in the export of the Mukula tree continue to be made. Our hope is that this amendment is not one of the many reasons to try and cripple the FIC. The FIC has already seemingly been politicized by the PF government and it is our hope that these amendments are not intended to further weaken the institution. We will as TI-Z not support any attempts to turn this important institution into a moribund one simply because Political Exposed Persons are uncomfortable with the revelations of possible wrong doings involving them. We will be watching this space very closely in that regard,” said Nyambe.