FIC faces questions over N$10b Fishrot transactions

03 February 2021 | Banking

OGONE TLHAGE



WINDHOEK

The Bank of Namibia insists its Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has complied with all of its fiduciary duties and informed law enforcement agencies of any Fishrot-linked transaction it came across.

The FIC had last year during an annual review said it had flagged over N$10 billion in questionable transfers forming part of the now infamous Fishrot scandal.

Questions have since been asked as to how all these transactions went unnoticed by the country’s reserve bank and its intelligence arm.

A lawyer yesterday remarked that the FIC should not be allowed to pass the buck after flagging dubious money transfers, but should investigate any possible incidences of money laundering.

Eben de Klerk was commenting on the role the centre should play when coming across large money transfers.

Actionable intelligence

“The FIC’s focus remains the issuance of actionable intelligence which has the ability to disrupt crime and/or enable income generation for the State and or return of proceeds of crime to victims of financial crime,” FIC director Leonie Dunn said.

Further commenting on the role of the centre, she said it flagged transactions that led to active investigations.

“As such, all intelligence disclosures to competent authorities made by the FIC result in active investigations and evidence collection for purposes of prosecutions and/or civil asset restraint and/or preservation and forfeiture,” she added.

Extensive powers

Meanwhile, De Klerk said the FIC’s founding Act actually provides it with greater powers than the Namibian police and the Anti-Corruption Commission, which enables it to proceed with investigations.

“The FIC has extensive investigative powers under sections 9 and 61 of the Financial Intelligence Act, even more than the Namibian Police. Penalties for obstructing FIC investigators are enormous, which again provides the FIC far greater protection to conduct investigations than the police enjoy,” De Klerk said.

While last year the FIC said it had analysed billions in transactions linked to Fishrot, central bank governor Johannes !Gawaxab clarified that it was not say those all transactions stemmed from dubious payments.

“In this specific case, they [the FIC] looked at the total number of transactions with a money value of N$10 billion. It does not say there is fraud of N$10 billion,” !Gawaxab said.

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