ZIMBABWE has lost over US$3 billion to illicit financial flows through tax evasion, smuggling, corruption, fraud, drug trafficking and money laundering, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo has said.
Addressing an asset recovery training workshop in Harare yesterday, Justice Matanda-Moyo said illicit financial flows were among the greatest threats that Zimbabwe was facing as a country.
She said the Commission’s Strategic Plan for 2019-2024 had allocated 60 percent of its resources to investigation and asset recovery.
The workshop which ends tomorrow is being sponsored by the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
“The Financial Intelligence Unit estimated that Zimbabwe lost over US$3 billion to illicit financial flows through proceeds of crimes involving tax evasion, smuggling, corruption, fraud, drug trafficking and money laundering. Africa loses at least US$50 billion a year.
“Illicit financial flows involve money moving illegally across borders as such it is a daunting task following the money trail through different jurisdictions. The investigations are generally complex and it takes years to recover proceeds of crime.
“I am advised by the experts that it took Nigeria about 15 years to identify, freeze and repatriate an estimated US$1,2 billion proceeds of crime of the family and associates of General Sani Abacha, the former Nigerian President. This is just one of the few examples. It requires dedication on the part of the investigators and prosecutors and stakeholders,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.
She said fighting corruption was not for the faint-hearted as it requires courageous officers that have integrity and dedication to duty.
“It takes years and dedication for one to be an expert in asset recovery. As the commission we are looking forward to building teams that are sophisticated and technically sound to conduct thorough investigations, asset tracking and asset recovery.
“In addition, we intend to move away from mediocre investigation practices. Corruption is evolving daily and in order to be prepared there is need for continuous training in the new forms of corruption. It is time for a change in the way that we conduct ourselves and our investigations,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.
She said the workshop was going to focus mainly on international cooperation and it will provide participants with an in-depth understanding of the current international legal frameworks of combating corruption, asset recovery, and mutual legal assistance among others.
Officers from Zacc, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), Financial Intelligence Unit, Immigration Department and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit are attending the workshop.