The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has released the money laundering report for last year (2018).
FIC says, “During the year, the FIC disseminated 80 reports of suspected ML and TF to Law Enforcement Agencies involving suspected financial crimes valued at ZMW 6.1 billion or about USD 520 million.”
The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has published the Annual Trends Report for 2018 documenting what is currently prevailing in the Financial Systems in Zambia in terms of AML/CFT related matters. The trends report was launched by the Attorney General of Zambia Likando Kalaluka on 31st May 2019.
According to the centre, the most prevalent forms of corruption noted in 2018 were those involving bribery, self- dealing amounting to K4.9 billion while K1 billion was lost in tax evasion among others.
Speaking at the launch of the 5th Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Trends Report for 2018 in Lusaka today, fic director General Mary Chirwa attributed the increase in trends involving suspicious financial transactions from K4.5 billion in 2017 to K6.1 billion in 2018 to the increase in the value of transactions related to corruption.
Meanwhile, Ms Chirwa disclosed that the centre analysed 176 suspicious transaction reports of which 80 were disseminated to law enforcement agencies on suspicions covering of tax evasion, fraud, corruption and money laundering.
At the same event, Attorney General Likando Kalaluka advised law enforcement agencies to retrospect on the fight against financial crimes and use the report to strengthen the law.
MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR GENERAL
2018 was a remarkable year for the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) marked by its admission into the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Being a member of the Egmont Group is expected to further improve the effectiveness of the FIC in the execution of its mandate, especially the ability to exchange information with over one hundred and sixty (160) jurisdictions.
The FIC continued to implement a robust strategic agenda focused on contributing to the prevention and detection of money laundering and the countering of the financing of terrorism. In this regard, the FIC extended its outreach to the public through education and general awareness of ML and TF.
During the year, the FIC disseminated 80 reports of suspected ML and TF to Law Enforcement Agencies involving suspected financial crimes valued at ZMW 6.1 billion or about USD 520 million.
Zambia was subject of a Mutual Evaluation in 2018 by the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).
The purpose of the Mutual Evaluation, which was coordinated by the FIC, was to determine the extent to which Zambia is compliant with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards and the effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime in Zambia. The report setting out the results of the Mutual Evaluation is due for publication in 2019.
In this regard, the FIC wishes to thank the Government of the Republic of Zambia for the material and moral support given to this important national assignment. The FIC further extends its gratitude to Government agencies, private institutions and other stakeholders that participated in the assessment process.
The 2018 Trends Report on AML/CFT is intended to increase public awareness and understanding of Zambia’s AML /CFT regime. It provides a synopsis of suspicious financial transactions analysed and related financial crimes identified by the FIC during the year. Such information is critical in supporting Zambia’s response towards the prevention and detection of ML/TF and PF.
Zambia operationalized a currency transaction reporting threshold in January 2017 following the issuance of the Financial Intelligence Centre (Prescribed Thresholds) Regulations through Statutory Instrument (S.I) No. 52 of 2016.
The S.I. requires reporting entities to report all currency transactions to the Financial Intelligence Centre equal to or above USD 10,000 or its equivalent. This is an automated system and therefore does not imply any illegality in what is reported but helps in strategic analysis.
The requirement for reporting is part of the measures recommended by the FATF. The measures are intended to improve the ability of countries to prevent and detect illicit sources and uses of cash.
This helps in the combating of the twin evils of money laundering and terrorist financing. It further makes up part of the international tool kit against illicit financial flows.
The Eastern and Southern Africa Anti Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) has just concluded a mutual evaluation of the AML/CFT systems in Zambia and the country was compliant with the requirement of setting currency thresholds as per the FATF standards. Further, it should be noted that the currency thresholds set by the S.I are not equivalent to limits. Customers are therefore not prohibited from transacting in any currency amount above US$10,000. Most of the countries in the region have set currency transaction thresholds below US$10, 000.
During 2018, the system operated optimally. The fact that almost all countries in the global community are members of FATF or FATF styled regional bodies suggests that if these thresholds had a negative impact on economic performance, the world would be in perpetual recession. For purposes of economic policy, the country needs to encourage more usage of electronic payment systems in order to increase financial transparency.
Given the socio-economic developmental challenges that Zambia faces, it is crucial that national resources are safe-guarded and applied in accordance with the Government’s plans and priorities. For example, Money Laundering reduces revenue for the government as laundered funds are untaxed. Reduced revenues also limit the Governments’ ability to provide public goods and services such as education, health and other social amenities. Such illicit funds also have the potential to destabilize Zambia’s financial payment systems and encourage corrupt practices.
All public and private institutions including the general public are therefore encouraged to actively participate in Zambia’s quest to become a “financial crimes free” nation.
Mary Chirwa (Ms.)