DRUG ENFORCEMENT COMMISSION (DEC), ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION (ACC) ZAMBIA POLICE SERVICE (ZPS), ZAMBIA REVENUE AUTHORITY (ZRA) and FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE CENTRE (FIC) – June 2019
Interesting Developments in our beloved Country Zambia. We the People of Zambia listened to the 2 powerful ladies this week. The FIC DG Ms. Mary Chirwa and the Drug Enforcement Commissioner Ms Alita Mbhawe. Caveat. I personally know both Ladies. I personally know and Worked with the ACC DG , ZPS IG and ZRA CG. So no ill will or malice intentions or mischief harboured here and for sure, no Love lost. I collaborated and worked with all of them in my previous life. I will focus on press briefing regarding the 2018 Financial Intelligence Centre Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Trends Report by DEC Commissioner.
Firstly, It is great to note that DEC actually confirmed receipt of sixteen (16) cases out of the total number of reports indicated as being disseminated to law enforcement agencies, accounting for 20% and approximately K22 million of the total amount indicated in the FIC Trends Report. We are all agreed that these 16 cases were received from FIC in 2018. The others went to ACC, ZPS, ZRA and other institutions.
Settled. Let us for arguments sake presume one or two of these cases were received in January or February 2018, and FIC launched 2018 trends report in May 2019, would Zambians be expecting too much from DEC to have had an opportunity to be updated on the progress of the DEC Investigations within 15 months? The DEC Commissioner’s own admission that the “sixteen cases are currently under investigation at various stages and we will update members of the public on the action taken at an opportune time in order to avoid jeopardising the legal prospects of the cases” makes us ordinary Zambians wonder how Long Law Enforcement (LEA) Officers must and DO take to conclude at least one of those 16, less complicated cases.
For our colleagues in this field of investigations, we are alive to the fact that all 16 cases can never be complicated with the the same weight, density and intensity of complexity. There should be Low hanging fruits where LEA can make quick wins and update the deserved Zambians on the progress they are making. First come or first investigated or Prioritising sensitive and more complex cases by assigning them to highly qualified, skilled, experienced and senior Officers to investigate those deemed complex by DEC Command! When ZPS for example wants to arrest HH, CK, GBM or Liato, or Mwaliteta, the IG doesn’t assign such to inexperienced Freshmen and women from Lilayi. The IG assigns the work to veterans and experienced Officers to deal with them mainly not in Kabangwe but Woodlands Police Station. Just for an illustration purposes. Don’t re-arrest them
In order for LEA to set the record straight in view of the negative perception by Zambians and impression created in which law enforcement agencies ACC, DEC, ZPS are seen to be inept or operating in an inertia mode or waiting for cajoling or directives from the powers above to institute investigations of not only the intelligence reports disseminated by FIC or the Auditor General’s Reports or indeed, the civil societies, by the General members of the public, Informers, Research and or indeed LEA own initiated cases, LEAs need to constantly engage the nation and assure them or justify the continued use of public resources- Taxes payers money which come in as salaries and allowances including operational allowances (Aka kuju)! Namukeshiba!
We are all agreed that the Drug Enforcement Commission is by law mandated to investigate reports of money laundering and related financial crimes as provided in the Prohibition and Prevention of Money Laundering Act No. 14 of 2001 as amended by Act 44 of 2010.
From January to December, 2018 DEC received 308 financial intelligence reports for investigation and that includes dissemination from the FIC. Out of the 308 reports, 45 were from the Auditor General’s Report while 247 were from members of the public. Great, the Question which must follow this is which of the 16 cases so far reported to DEC by FIC in 2018 has been concluded in 12 months and what is the outcome? Secondly, what happened to the best practices of DEC and ACC publication of their own respective “Annual Reports”? One would think it is a legal requirement to do so. DEC for example published the 2016 Annual Report in early 2017! It is still online and available for all concerned Zambians to read and decipher for themselves. What happened to the 2017 and 2018 DEC and ACC Annual Reports? Had those Annual reports been published by respective LEA themselves, they would have adequately covered the 16 cases referred to DEC by FIC in 2018.
The DEC Commissioner stated “Despite the workload and complex nature of Money Laundering investigations, the Commission has been working round the clock to ensure that each report is treated on a case-by-case basis by looking at the merits of each individual case for eventual arrest and prosecution. Money Laundering cases take a long time to be concluded as such, I wish to assure members of the public that the Commission is actively working to fulfil its mandate and contribute to the socioeconomic development of the nation”.
Great sentiments. We just need to bear in mind, that instituting Investigations In 2018 and go on Investigating In June 2019, issue press briefing in 2020 and effecting arrests in 2021 the year of elections against the Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) after resignation and forming their own Political Parties and launching manifestos bring in new connotations. The odd trend of waiting for Plot1 to act by having dropped or fired the PEPs and LEAs intensify investigations is not viewed in good stead by ordinary Zambians. Even in cases where real evidence and even when there was real corruption, theft or money laundering cases, perceptions turn into Political persecution and the sincerity and credibility of the LEAs come to be questioned by the general populace. This applies to all LEAs (ACC, DEC, ZRA or ZAWA). I’m personally sympathetic to your predicament but professionally, Investigations should have time frames! Don’t drag them too Long. Reminds me of Dr. Katele Kalumba’s case and how Long it took in court of law to be concluded. The case would only have a new lease of life once MMD planed to go for convention. People were not sure whether he would pull a surprise and challenge SG or Presidential Position.
Whilst it is professionally prudent to appeal to the Financial Intelligence Centre – FIC on the need to review their modus operandi to avoid compromising investigations as well as creating a false impression, it is We the Zambian people’s expectation and fervent hope that DEC, ACC, ZPS may as well take necessary steps to reform and be professionally proactive in your noble call to serve the people of Zambia.
FIC, ACC, DEC, ZPS, ZRA have distinct but complimenting roles and for sure, the Zambian citizens and the World expectations in the financial crime fight and money laundering compliance with international standards is the effective collaboration among all law enforcement agencies and the Financial Intelligence Centre as the Zambia’s FIU.
We are all agreed on the unavoidable need need for effective collaboration and coordination if we as a Country are to fight financial crimes such as corruption, tax evasion, fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering and all their attendant offshoots in Zambia. TGIF. God bless you all. Stay safe. God Bless Zambia. KEKK-06/07/19