PEOPLE with criminal minds will not distract me, there is nothing unprofessional in what we have done, vows Financial Intelligence Centre director Mary Chirwa. Responding to critics of the FIC 2018 trends report, Chirwa said they have just been working according to “how we are supposed to and we would not be distracted.”
She said those that had put themselves in the pieces of the FIC case study would not distract her as she was conversant with her mandate.
“Believe you me, I would not be distracted by somebody who has a criminal mind and has put themselves, fit themselves in the pieces of the case study. I would not be distracted because first and foremost, I know what my mandate is. I know how to carry out that mandate. I have been trained to do this work. I would not be deterred by somebody talking, I am paid to work and that’s what I am going to do,” Chirwa said in an interview.
She vowed to continue carrying out her work in accordance with her mandate whether people talked ill about her or not. Chirwa further said FIC’s major responsibility was to safeguard the integrity of financial systems and the country thus would not be derailed by those who were scared to be exposed.
“Whether they talk or don’t talk, we will continue doing what need to do and disseminate the information because the major responsibility we have is to safeguard the financial systems, to safeguard our country and therefore we should not be distracted by people who are fearful of being known that they are doing bad. Even us when we see these names, we start thinking that, okay probably we need to start looking into them because for these names to appear, it means there is something we need to do, they are just flagging some information to us well in this same process,” she said.
“For me the issue is just to stick to the truth and the truth will set us free. What I really see is a situation where people are confused with the difference between an intelligence report and trends report and secondly the purpose of the trends report. I didn’t expect that this year we would have all these statements and disagreements on what the truth is because we have endeavoured to engage different stakeholders to make them understand.”
Chirwa explained that the law enforcement agencies were in a very good position to know the difference between an intelligence report and a trends report in the sense that they were the recipients of intelligence reports, which were products of operational analyses.
“When you look at an intelligence report, it’s a report that contains all the dots of a case. When we receive a suspicion, we verify if there was such a suspected corruption, who was involved, what did they do with the money, how did they do it and all that is explained in an intelligence report which is sent to the law enforcement agencies. So I really do not expect that we can have all these differences,” Chirwa explained.
“Secondly, this is a report that is depicting 2018 work, so all that are there are things that happened last year and if you are talking of dissemination, these are cases that were disseminated whether in January, February, March, April and people have had enough time to look at them and do further investigations if they so need to. And we have a system of quarterly reports and we get feedback of which cases are under investigations, which cases have proceeded to court and so on and a trends report is what we do at the end of the year which comes out of strategic analysis and that we’ll start looking at during the year. The cases we looked at and other intelligence information we have, what is it that we have seen? What are the methods that criminals are using and now this is the report we use to educate the public saying if you see this in the law fraternity then be aware. If you see this in the procurement sector, if you see this in the banking sector, insurance, Casino, this is what we have seen from the reports that came through our institution that now these are the methods that criminals are using.”
Chirwa refuted assertions that case studies in the FIC reports would jeopardies investigations as a myth. She said the success of her centre was dependent on the end result of law enforcement agencies and court processes.
“Case studies are there to literally just illustrate those issues and if you see we don’t mention names and this is an international standard of a strategic or trends report…it has to have case studies to illustrate what you have seen. So anyone who comes and says that they never received these reports, first and foremost it’s a lie because those are there, we disseminated them last year. Those who are saying this is an intelligence report, again it’s a lie because this is not an intelligence report,” Chirwa said adding,
“So for me, I do not understand where the confusion is coming from and as it has been stated, we are a fully-funded government institution who are just carrying out our mandate for what the law and international standard experts us to do. I want to believe that we are in the same shoes, everybody just wants to work and don’t want to see to it that there is any confusion but there are certain points of departure that we need to clarify as people on the ground who are doing this work and have done this work for the past five years and have results to show for it. Look at ZRA, how many reports have we sent there and they have done good recoveries from there? So you can’t call this raw data…if there is a wing of government that has successfully used these reports. You need to look at that, if really the other wing has been able to successfully recover, access, then it means there is merit in this. We cannot jeopardise investigations because even us our success is in the end result of what will come from the law enforcement agencies and courts of law. So to say a case study would jeopardise an investigation, I really don’t see it.”
Chirwa said that those that were going berserk about the FIC reports and case studies are guilty and had fitted themselves in the explosion.
“We don’t make the names in these reports, it’s the guiltiness of individuals who put up names there. So if you know that in the last year, I received a bribe and you bought houses and when you see a case study that is illustrating that people are getting bribes and are buying houses, automatically you fit yourself in it because you did it.”