DEC boss slams Financial Intelligence Centre

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Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) Commissioner General Alita Mbahwe says the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has been jeopardizing criminal investigations by releasing its annual trends reports to the public.

Mbahwe says FIC reports contain raw intelligence data that is meant for exclusive use by law enforcement agencies and not members of the public, further pointing out that publishing such information tends to alert perpetrators who begin to destroy vital evidence.

According to the FIC 2018 Trends Report, Zambia incurred estimated losses amounting to K6.1 billion to financial crimes mainly perpetrated by prominent politicians.

The FIC revealed that it analysed 176 suspicious transaction reports of which 80 were disseminated to law enforcement agencies, covering tax evasion, fraud, corruption and money laundering.

But the Drug Enforcement Commission says it only received and is investigating 16 cases involving about K22 million.

“First and foremost, I wish to state that the Commission received 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. 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,” said DEC Commissioner General Alita Mbahwe at a press briefing in Lusaka today.

Mbahwe complained that the publication of FIC reports has created an impression that law enforcement agencies are incompetent.

“While it does not please the Commission to discuss issues of security and intelligence nature in the press, we have been left with no option but to set the record straight in view of the impression created in which law enforcement agencies such as the DEC are seen to be inert or inept in the investigation of intelligence reports disseminated.

“While we appreciate that the role of the Financial Intelligence Centre is to educate the public and reporting entities of their obligations as well as inform them of measures to detect, prevent and deter money laundering and financing of terrorism or proliferation, we are of the view that this report should not be published in the manner it has been in the past few years.”

Mbahwe added: “Information can either be constructive or destructive depending on how it is managed or disseminated. It is, therefore, important that information is disseminated to the rightful audience in line with a well thought out communication strategy to avoid speculation and undue pressure on Investigative Wings. This, therefore, means that the FIC should have different information prepared for their different audiences and not the current trend.”

Mbahwe also says some information disseminated by the FIC turns out to be false in some cases, leading to closure of some investigations.

“We are concerned with the publication of raw intelligence data as it actually compromises investigations by law enforcement agencies. This is because the same intelligence report disseminated to law enforcement agencies is also disseminated to the public and, therefore, jeopardises investigations as the perpetrators are alerted and begin to destroy vital evidence. In some cases due to the manner in which information is verified foreign nationals have fled the country upon realising that they are under investigation following enquiries made by the FIC.

“Further, the intelligence reports disseminated to law enforcement agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Commission sometimes turn out to be false on enquiry leading to closure of cases, a situation which is always misconstrued as inaction by investigative wings. In certain instances, the method of intelligence gathering used, such as seizure of documents from various institutions affects the quality of our investigations as other supporting documents that may not have been collected are destroyed before investigative wings move in. This in some situations leads to closure of cases due to insufficient evidence or closure due to un-detection.”


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