DRUG Enforcement Commission (DEC) Director General Mary Chirwa says there is nothing like victimisation in financial investigations because as law enforcement agencies don’t look at faces when following up individuals.

In an interview, Chirwa said the Commission follows up financial trails or suspected proceeds of crime.

“In financial investigations, there is nothing like victimisation. We don’t follow people in terms of following faces. I will not investigate because it is Julia, or it is Mary or Pamela, I will follow a financial trail and if that financial trail leads to you, then you become a subject of interest because you are the one who can speak to this particular property or transaction that I am following up. And you know that in terms of financial crimes, people have evolved and so have laws and investigative tactics and strategies. I think if you remember from the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) last interview that I had with ZNBC, I was showing you how much cash has gone into the society and because it is cash, it is not so easy to follow up, the only way we can trail it is through properties. So, if we look at properties that are subject of suspicion, as law enforcement, we have got the mandate to follow that property,” Chirwa said.

“There is what we call land conviction-based prosecution. So we will follow that property and the onus is on the owner of the property to come and justify how that property was acquired. So, we may target properties directly or we may follow a financial trail that is coming whether from the insurance sector or from the banking industry. But we cannot remain in the old tactics when criminals themselves have evolved and so there is no victimisation. Basically, it is just following the financial trails or the suspected proceeds of crime.”

Chirwa said law enforcement agencies also worked on leads, insisting that victimisation doesn’t come into play in any way.

“And then remember that law enforcement agencies work on leads, so if any member of the public or someone within the institution becomes an informer and they give us details, we will follow up on those details to verify. In verifying we need to pick up documents, we need to call people for interviews so that at the end of the day when a matter goes to court, we as law enforcement are 101 percent convinced that there is a criminal matter in this particular aspect. So, in terms of victimisation, it doesn’t come into play in any way,” she said.

Chirwa said the Commission was not taking long to act on some cases but simply wanted to have water-tight cases.

“On the aspect of taking long, from the intelligence point of view, from FIC, we used to and they are still giving information that is indisputable, but then the job of the law enforcement goes further into obtaining the original document to formulate a docket, to record witness statements. Remember that from the intelligence side, there is nothing like recording of statements, we pick documents that speak to a particular transaction and then from the analysis, we are able to see that there is something wrong in this particular transaction. But from the law enforcement side, we need now to create a docket that can be presented before a court of law. So it is nothing like taking long,” said Chirwa.

“We just want to ensure that we have water tight cases so that tomorrow the public, the media does not come back to us and say ‘we were victimising people, we took people to court and they were acquitted’. These are families involved, if I come to you and I make you go through the court process when I did not have enough evidence, it is unfair to you and your family. So, we want to ensure that the cases that go to court are water-tight hence you may say that we are taking long but believe me we are not. We are doing the best on the ground to give you the product that you deserve and the product that you want to see as a nation.”