The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has clarified its role saying it has noted with concern over misrepresentation of its role by some sections of the public and the media saying is not mandated to carry out investigations or prosecutions.
FIU’s clarification comes against a background of media reports on the body’s investigations into K600 million (about $1.5m) payouts from the Malawi Development Fund Account.
A press statement signed by FIU acting director Atuweni-Tupochile Phiri says unlike other models, Malawi’s FIU is administrative in nature and does not investigate or prosecute.
“Malawi’s FIU is not mandated or set up to carry out investigations. It is administrative in nature, meaning that it does not prosecute. It is not mandated to summon any person for questioning on any alleged suspicion or offence. Further, FIU can neither confirm nor deny that it is analysing the alleged case or any other cases,” reads the statement in part.
Under Section 11 of the Money Laundering, Proceeds of Serious Crime and Terrorist Financing Act, FIU has a mandate to receive disclosures of suspicious financial information from financial institutions, analyse and disseminate the information as intelligence reports to law enforcement agencies and supervisors of financial institutions.
Such reports assist law enforcement agencies to gather evidence which is then admissible in a court of law.
The Money Laundering Act which was passed in 2006 considered that an administrative FIU was within the best interest of Malawi.
The statement says FIU does not disclose information it receives to financial institutions, any public officer, members of the media or any other person. The non-disclosure is in accordance with section 17 (3) of the Money Laundering, Proceeds of Serious Crimes and Terrorist Financing Act.
The section states that: The Director or an officer or employee or agent of the Financial Intelligence Unit shall not disclose any information that would directly or indirectly identify an individual who provided report or information to the FIU or a person or an entity about whom a report or information was provided under this Act.
It is the observance of this provision that ensures FIU’s enjoyment of the financial institutions trust, law enforcement agencies and confidence of the public.