FIC, ACC referral figures don’t add up

Screenshot_2019-08-14 FIC Annual Report 2018-2019_Editorial Revision pdf

What!?

The statements, information and/or data referenced in this article have been assessed and found to be outlandish and/or over exaggerated.

14th August 2019

Frederico Links

Frederico Links is the editor and lead researcher of Namibia Fact Check and a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)

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The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) claims to be referring cases for investigation to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), but this is not reflected in ACC annual reports.

NOTE: We give this a What!? because the figures don’t match and indicates a lack of data reporting coordination.

The claim emanates from the annual report of the FIC released in early August 2019.

The claim first surfaced publicly in a news report, headlined ‘FIC denies ignoring SME Bank looting’ in The Namibian newspaper of Monday, 12 August 2019. In the article Bank of Namibia (BoN) governor Ipumbu Shiimi and FIC director Leonie Dunn both defended the unit against widely publicised criticisms and perceptions that the FIC, and the BoN, had failed to act on alleged fraudulent activities and illicit financial flows that led to the collapse of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bank in 2017.

In the article, BoN governor Shiimi is quoted saying in defence of the FIC:

“There is a tax office for tax purposes. The FIC was not established to replace the tax office, which has power in terms of its own laws as to what it should do. There is an Anti-Corruption Commission. These are the competent authorities to investigate and do what they need to in terms of their laws,” Shiimi said, adding that the FIC is there to support that process by giving them information on financial footprints.”

In defence of her unit, FIC director Dunn stated:

“The FIC surely did not turn a blind eye. It would be a lie to say the FIC was not involved [in tracing lost funds]. Our involvement started in 2014.”

The central claim is thus:

  • The FIC refers suspicious transactions and activities in the financial system to the ACC for corruption related investigations.

What we found:

  • According to the FIC’s 2018/19 annual report, since 2009, the FIC has referred 92 cases for investigation to the ACC;
  • However, ACC annual reports since 2009 do not reflect such a figure, and in fact, reflect different or no annual figures for reports received from the FIC.

What the reports reveal:

  • We could only find FIC intelligence reports being mentioned in two ACC annual reports since the 2009/10 financial year – 2014/15 and 2017/18;
  • In 2014/15 the ACC reports having received five (5) – 4 in 2014 and 1 in 2015 – referrals from the FIC. However, the FIC claims to have referred 15 cases – 2014 (8) and 2015 (7) – for investigation to the ACC in that period;
  • For 2017/18, the ACC reports receiving zero (0) referrals from the FIC. However, the FIC claims to have referred 15 cases – 5 in 2017 and 10 in 2018 – to the ACC in that period.

Our assessment:

  • There appears to be serious discrepancies in how different government agencies report on the same phenomena;
  • There appears to be considerable variation in reporting standards and quality between and amongst government agencies;
  • There appears to be a highly questionable handling of data in either one or both the FIC and/or the ACC.

The article on The Namibian website can be accessed through the following link: https://www.namibian.com.na/81884/read/FIC-denies-ignoring-SME-Bank-looting

The link to the ACC website where the annual reports can be accessed is: https://www.accnamibia.org/index.php/publications/

The link where the latest FIC annual report can be accessed is: https://www.fic.na/uploads/Publications/AnnualReports/FIC%20Annual%20Report%20%202019.pdf

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