THE launch of the 2016 Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing National Risk Assessment Report by government last Friday is a timely effort in the fight against financial crimes.
Financial crimes are a growing concern the world over, and the advances in technology have made them even more complicated.
This is why Secretary to Cabinet Roland Msiska has called upon all stakeholders involved in anti-money laundering to combine their efforts as they fight the financial crimes. There is strength in numbers.
Dr Msiska said money laundering and terrorist financing can deter investment opportunities and stagnate economic growth.
By their nature, financial crimes involve millions of kwacha that are either ill acquired and end up in the country’s economy or finances meant for development ending up in the hands of unscrupulous people who conduct illegal activities.
For a country like Zambia that is focussed on achieving its development agenda, the crimes can have a serious adverse impact and impede progress.
But it is worth noting that Government has put in place measures to fight financial crimes. It is also conducting a risk assessment to ascertain the level of the crimes in Zambia.
With money-laundering risk said to be medium high and terrorist financing said to be medium low, there is no time to relax because some vices begin small and eventually grow big.
Efforts that have been implemented against financial crimes should be supported and enhanced by stakeholders so that the risks are brought to a minimum level.
We know that the stakeholders, on their part, are trying their level best to clamp down on financial crimes but as Dr Msiska said, there are still gaps which need to be closed.
Dr Msiska, for example, singled out the ineffective monitoring of suspicious transactions, ineffective compliance functions in reporting entities, inadequate knowledge on anti-money laundering, inadequate knowledge on countering the financing of terrorist activities, as some of the deficiencies in the fight against financial crimes.
We know that the policies against money-laundering and terrorism financing were borne out of the realisation that Zambia is part of the global sphere where doing business has become easy but at the same time sophisticated.
While we credit advances in technology, where, at the press of a button, a transaction becomes complete, the call to implement adequate measures and keep improving them is urgent.
It is for this reason that stakeholders fighting financial crimes still have a long way to go and we urge them to form formidable synergies that will take care of some inadequacies that exist now.
The fight against financial crimes is far from over. In fact, this is only the beginning.
Stakeholders should review their approaches periodically to ensure that they remain in conformity to the objectives of fighting the crimes.
Fraudsters are bound to use different methods and this is where government and other stakeholders need to keep acquiring new knowledge through training on how to prevent, detect and react to the crimes.
Financial institutions have put in place measures to combat financial crimes but they should constantly check their crime control systems so that they remain effective, relevant and in line with the changing global trends.
A close collaboration of government, banks, law agencies and regulators enables the flow of knowledge and the sharing of best practices.
With some of these interventions, Zambia can maintain investor confidence and protect its financial resources from being diverted from the development agenda.