THE Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has sanctioned Stanbic Bank Zambia for failure to report suspicious financial transactions between January and December 2020.

But Stanbic Zambia Limited Head of Brand and Marketing Perry Siame says the bank only delayed to report the cases, not that it failed to comply.

In a statement, Monday, acting FIC Director General Liya Tembo said Stanbic Bank had since paid a K405,000 financial penalty in full.

“The Financial Intelligence Centre has sanctioned Stanbic Bank Zambia Limited in form of a financial penalty amounting to four hundred and five thousand Kwacha (ZMW 405,000) only. This is in a case where the FIC found that Stanbic Bank Zambia Ltd breached section 45 as read together with section 29(1) of the FIC Act No. 46 of 2010 (as amended) in that Stanbic Bank Zambia Limited failed to report suspicious transactions (STRs) between January 2020 and December 2020 within the required three working days upon forming a suspicion. Stanbic Zambia Limited has since paid the penalty in full and has committed to continue improving compliance with its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism and proliferations obligations,” Tembo stated.

“The FIC will continue to monitor reporting entities (financial providers (FSPs) and designated Non-Financial businesses and Professions DNFBSs) to ensure they comply with the provisions of the FIC Act.”

Tembo said banks needed to understand that they play a critical role in the fight against money laundering.

“It is very important to understand that reporting entities play a critical role in the fight against money laundering and other financial crimes. They are the gatekeepers to our financial system; they have the role to actually put in place measures that will prevent money laundering and other financial crimes. The reactions from the supervisors from law enforcement is when there is a breach in those preventative measures. As such, the Financial Intelligence Centre urges all reporting entities to include MLC safety compliances in their business strategies and plans,” said Tembo.

“There has to be deliberate determination to build a culture of compliance within the reporting entities. The fight against money laundering and terrorism financing and other financial crimes is a concerted effort. The value chain does not only include supervisors and law enforcement agencies, the private sector plays a very critical role. The continued monitoring and compliance checks by the FIC as well as other supervisory authorities will only escalate. We are not going to minimize the work that we have to do in order to safeguard our financial system.”

But Stanbic told News Diggers that the penalty resulted from the bank’s delay to report cases, rather than failure.

“What is important is that we are working with the regulator. We obviously have a close and cordial relationship and to emphasize that the penalty or the sanctions that has been imposed is linked to a delay in reporting within the stipulated three days as per regulation and not that the bank does not make reports to FIC as required. We are working with FIC in line with the requirements on reporting. We are working the regulator to comply with the stipulated three days of reporting,” Siame said.

When asked to mention the specific transaction, Siame said “the minute I put it out there, that this was the transaction or transactions that could have happened on a account or number of accounts, I am already in violation of data protection act.”