THE Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has revealed that the Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit investigated 219 money laundering related cases involving over K1 billion, over US$ 54 million and over €23 thousand in 2021.

And DEC says 92 cases were reported from January to July before the 2021 general elections, while 127 cases were reported after the general elections.

In a statement, Tuesday, DEC Public Relations Officer Mathias Kamanga stated that of the 219 money laundering related cases, 56 persons were arrested countrywide.

“The Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit (AMLIU) in 2021 investigated 219 money laundering related cases involving over 1 billion Zambian Kwacha, over 54 million United States Dollars and over 23 thousand Euros. In the 219 cases that were recorded, 56 persons were arrested countrywide compared to 120 persons that were arrested in 221 cases that were recorded in 2020 involving over 200 million Zambian Kwacha, over 3 million United States Dollar and over 25 million British Pound. Further, 92 cases were reported from January to July before the 2021 general elections, while 127 cases were reported after the general elections,” he stated.

Kamanga stated that the Commission, through its Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit, also seized three real estate properties, 32 motor vehicles, and various amounts of money.

“The reports on different predicate offences to money laundering, came from the public and private sectors where 116 cases (53%) involved various frauds, 51 cases (23%) were for theft/embezzlement, and 45 cases (21%) came from other types of predicate offences all amounting to € 25, 300. 00, K1, 209, 027,674.98 Zambian Kwacha and USD 54, 255,154.00. The Commission concluded a total of 764 cumulative cases in 2021 which led to the arrest of 56 persons in 39 cases for money laundering related offences involving ZMW 37, 596,490.80 and USD 400,445.00. Further, the Commission through its Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit (AMLIU) seized a total of three real estate properties (land and buildings), 32 motor vehicles, ZMW 353, 628, 314.88, USD 28,739,621.55 and € 589,751.50 held in various bank accounts and cash amounts of USD 1,327,425.00 and ZMW 2,195,084.90,” he stated.

And Kamanga said there was an increase in reports of money laundering related offences stemming from money circulation schemes.

“Further, as at 31st December, 2021, the Commission had attended to a total of 59 clients under the Child Diversion Program. The Commission is one of the key stakeholders in the implementation of the National Diversion Framework (NDF) that aims at diverting juvenile offenders from the Criminal Justice System by facilitating restorative measures such as psycho-social counseling and life-skills development as opposed to retributive interventions. There was an increase in reports received for money laundering related offences such as cyber-crime stemming from money circulation schemes that saw a number of people being swindled of their hard earned income by unregistered entities purporting to offer exaggerated profits/interests on various investment packages,” Kamanga said.

“The Commission wishes to thank all the major stakeholders and members of the general public for their cooperation in curbing this problem. The commission in the year 2021 saw a transition in the legislation as there was a change in the Act the commission operates under from Act 96 of 1993 to Act 35 of 2021 which brought about the legalization of cultivating cannabis for medicinal purposes. The new law also stiffened the law by standardizing the minimum sentence given to drug related offender to a minimum of 1 year which was not the case in the previous Act. In 2022, the Commission is determined to continue working towards meeting its mandate and serving the Zambian people through teamwork, collaboration and consultation with various stakeholders.”

Kamanga said the Commission arrested a total of 3,893 persons in drug related offences in the same period under review.

“As regards cases of counterfeit notes, the Commission in the year under review seized total amounts of USD 269,600.00, ZMW 392, 900.00 and MWK 28,000.00 (Malawian Kwacha). 56 people were arrested in 31 cases. In terms of drug related offences, the Commission in 2021 arrested a total of 3,893 persons in 2021 comprising 3,634 males and 259 females as compared to 2020 where 4,335 persons were arrested. Juveniles accounted for 267 while foreign nationals were 85. Drugs seized in 2021 included 49 tonnes of Cannabis compared to 2020 where 99.74 tonnes was seized thereby recording a 51 percent decrease,” he said.

“Other drugs seized included 9 Kg of Heroin, 954.59 grams of Cocaine, 11,135 bottles of Codeine 291 Kg of Khat miraa, 15 Kg Methamphetamine and 66.11 grams Diazepam. Further, 2,687 drug related cases were concluded by the courts of law as at 31st December, 2021. Out of the total cases concluded 2416 were convictions translating into 90% conviction rate. In addition, acquittals were recorded in 88 cases while 183 were concluded under various outcomes.”

Meanwhile, Kamanga said the Commission sensitized a total of 217,832 people on the dangers of engaging in illicit activities in 2021.

“The Commission in 2021 sensitized a total of 217,832 people on the dangers of engaging in illicit activities such as drug trafficking, abuse and money laundering from 1,476 awareness activities compared to 2020 where 129,085 people were sensitized from 1,077 activities conducted, indicating a 68 % increase in the number of people sensitized. Other activities conducted focused on stakeholder capacity development and covered family and parenting skills trainings, peer education and drug use epidemiology trainings where a total of 598 parents, guardians, caregivers and peer educators were trained,” said Kamanga.

“These activities were conducted in institutions of learning, communities and workplaces despite having scaled down on face to face awareness activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission also had 284 media awareness programs on both radio and television. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and whilst adhering to the health guidelines, the Commission in 2021 managed to attend to 810 clients under the counselling and reintegration program compared to 2020 where 777 clients were attended to. The clients were aged between 11 and 56 years, with the primary drugs of abuse being cannabis, alcohol, heroin and codeine.”