We are not that powerful – FIC

The Financial Intelligence Centre has denied that it has the power to conduct criminal investigations into money-laundering.

10 February 2021 | Banking

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK

Namibia’s money-laundering watchdog, the Financial Intelligence Centre, says it does not have powers to arrest, charge and prosecute people or entities tied to financial crimes.

The centre flagged approximately N$10 billion in dubious financial flows at the launch of its annual report in 2020.

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

Lawyer Eben de Klerk last week 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.

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

“The FIC would like to put it correctly that it does not have criminal investigative powers, evidence collection powers, arrest and search and seizures powers to fulfil said objectives, as these powers are vested in the law enforcement agencies,” the FIC said in response.

The FIC reiterated that it does have powers to collect, request and analyse suspicious transactions.

De Klerk, responding to a query by Namibian Sun last week, said the FIC’s founding Act actually grants it greater powers than the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

“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.

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