FINANCIAL Intelligence Centre (FIC) Acting Director General Liya Tembo says there is no tangible evidence that officers at the Centre are selling information.
Speaking during a breakfast engagement with members of parliament, Wednesday, Tembo said the Centre had carried out an internal check on the matter and no tangible evidence was found.
“Officers selling information from FIC, a very big concern even for the FIC, something that we haven’t ignored and we decided to check into it. We can confirm that there has been no tangible evidence of this particular allegation. We deal with very complicated cases and sometimes allegations will be raised so that we lose focus, sometimes they can be valid. But we didn’t just want to sit and ignore that particular allegation. So we did our own internal checks and we have verified that this information is not legitimate. Should there be anyone who claims to have solid evidence we are available to be engaged,” she said.
When asked what the centre’s success rate was, Tembo said FIC had recorded numerous achievements.
“In terms of the successes made by FIC from the time we began operations in 2013, they are numerous. We have already talked about joining Egmont as FIC Zambia. It is not a mini achievement, you are accessed vigorously. Having an FIC that was able to provide intelligence even at times when there were challenging situations in terms of the rule of law, I think that is definitely a success story that we are still operational, we are still an independent institution. We have an institution that has received support in terms of funding so that we can increase the human resource though not yet fully established but we believe even that is a success. I would humbly say the rating is 4.98, I think we deserve a clap,” she said.
“In terms of another very important achievement that you would want to know is the assessment that is done by ZRA after we send our intelligence to them. The figures have been quite huge and they have been very consistent in actually giving us feedback in terms of how much recoveries were made from our dissemination.”
Tembo said a lot of cases in the past FIC Trend Reports had reached a stage where arrests were being made.
“We are confident that these cases, many of them have now reached a stage where arrests are being made, will be made, and prosecutions are ongoing. I think we have seen that more and more in the recent months and weeks. Challenges are always there, our establishment is in the 60s, we have only fielded just over half of that number. So we could use more personnel at the Financial Intelligence Centre. Because of the nature of our work, one of the issues that we are getting into more and more now is the compliance matter, so we are doing a lot of inspections. With that, we need more capacity in terms of the specialized areas that we still feel like, for example, you may be aware that there is an emerging issue of virtue assets service providers. These are examples like Cryptocurrency; bitcoin. Those matters require specialized skill and we believe that within the Centre we could gain from capacity building in that area,” said Tembo.
And FIC director compliance and prevention department Diphat Tembo said the Centre disseminated information that was on merit.
“We add value to the information that comes from reporting entries by getting this information. When you hear the word collecting, it has two issues, you are requesting but also you are gathering information according to the provisions, once we have gotten all that information, we do an analysis, we evaluate that information, then we develop what we call an intelligence report, Financial Intelligence Report. It is different from suspicious transaction reports. Suspicious transaction reports come from reporting entities, FIC does not transmit a suspicious transaction report. We disseminate this information to the law enforcement agencies, if the report is bordering on corruption, definitely the first institution that is going to receive that report is the Anti-Corruption Commission. If it is issues to do with tax matters, tax evasion, it will go to Zambia Revenue Authority,” he said.
“In terms of dissemination, because we are still dealing with information that is intelligence in nature, we have developed secure systems in which we need to transmit this information. We do not disseminate information that does not have merit, we disseminate what we call actionable intelligence, 90 percent of the work could have been done. If this reaches the law enforcement agencies, they basically go there to get evidence in terms of information we would have done.”
He said the Centre had access to more than 165 countries globally in terms of financial information.
“We are required as FIU to cooperate and to coordinate this fight against money laundering with other Financial Intelligence Units in those other countries. As it were, we are members of one of the prestigious Egmont Group. It has got more than 175 countries which are affiliated to this grouping. FIC became a member in 2018, having been assessed to qualify to be a member of that prestigious. What does that mean? We have access to more than 165 countries globally in terms of financial information,” said Tembo.