The Financial Intelligence Centre Has Been Captured To Serve A Specific Political Interest.
The Office of the Auditor General, in October 2018, published its report on the Republic of Zambia’s financial year ending 31st December 2017 revealing just over K145m of misused public funds which included irregular payments of K22m, misapplication of funds of K61m, failure to follow procurement procedures K1m, undelivered materials K2m, non-submission of expenditure returns K30m, wasteful expenditure K8m, wasteful expenditure K8m, overpayments K8m and misappropriation of funds K5m.
In the same financial year, the Financial Intelligence Centre, against its mandate, stated at a public forum, that it suspected a loss of government funds to corruption of over K6bn alluding the majority of it to public procurement contracts and that they were often perpetrated by Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) or their associates. No-one, to date, has risen to question how the Office of the Auditor General missed a whooping K5.8bn.
But this unverified revelation gave the impression to the general public that government literally lost over K6bn through PEPs and/or their associates. And yet the Financial Intelligence Centre is not reporting on government funds from the treasury as is the case with the Office of the Auditor General. Its data is raw requiring further investigations covering a myriad of transactions. But why has the FIC chosen to mislead the general public?
The Financial Intelligence Centre could be under an institutional capture, a political occurrence that happens when regulatory agencies are dominated by the opposition or interests they are not charged with but use their powers to distort public perception of government for reasons known to themselves. The result is that the agency, which is charged with acting in the public’s interest, instead acts in ways that benefit a select few it is not supposed to serve.
Of great interest to me, as an analyst, is the fact that the report has chosen to expose only PEPs who are either in Cabinet or are closely linked to it and yet, unlike the Office of the Auditor General, the FIC has access to data covering the entire national spectrum.
The other source of great interest, to me, is the fact that the Financial Intelligence Centre has been releasing annual Trends Reports since 2013 through its website but last year, for reasons known to itself, it conducted a ‘public’ release when it held a news conference at which it invited media and stakeholders to engage them on the escalating levels of unsubstantiated money laundering and terrorist financing trends in Zambia among the PEPs and their associates.
What motivated the nouvelle presentation mode knowing that its data is meant for law enforcement agencies? I have been motivated to prepare this article by my utmost dislike of regime change perpetrated by individual political interests away from that of the greater good of society. We should be seen to be competing at the levels of development agendas instead of taking over government by way of economic sabotage or any underhand related activities.
Mpandashalo Evans Mwewa
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