GOVERNMENT is concerned about media reports suggesting that 69 Zambians have a collective total of US$48 million in Swiss banks.
Vice-President Inonge Wina said Zambia’s security wings in conjunction with the Bank of Zambia have since launched investigations to ascertain the funds in those offshore accounts.
“These are perhaps rumours which are online. But if it is true I am sure that the Bank of Zambia must have taken a keen interest in the matter and review the information and identify the legality of those funds and establish who the owners of the accounts are,” Vice President told Parliament on Friday during the Vice-President’s question and answer session.
Ms. Wina said tacking away huge sums of funds in an offshore account was a serious crime as it was considered economic sabotage in some countries.
She explained that such funds were usually used for terrorism activities, adding that Government would not go to sleep and give a blind eye on the matter.
“Stacking away huge sums of money in offshore banks is a serious crime and in some countries it is considered to be economic sabotage. The money could be used to finance illicit activities such as terrorist activities and it is also a way of evading taxes for those that are keeping the offshore accounts,” said Ms. Wina.
Vice-President Wina noted with sadness that for a low income country such as Zambia, the holding of funds in offshore accounts by some individuals or groups of people was working against the country’s effort to fight poverty and improve the livelihood of many Zambians.
“Definitely for a low income country like Zambia, such money if kept outside, it means that the country is deprived of the much needed revenue for poverty reduction. I am sure that the Bank of Zambia in colloboration with other law enforcement agencies are looking into the matter,” said Vice President Wina.
Sixty-nine people with links to Zambia were among the 100 000 clients of the banking giant HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary holding US$48.3 million (K314 million) in their accounts.
This is according to data from a former IT employee of HBSC’s Swiss subsidiary who hacked into the clients’ accounts and took almost 60 000 files before fleeing to France.
The US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalist (ICIJ) has summarized the data and indicates that 69 of the clients hold Zambian passports and the amount of a single client connected to Zambia was US$12 million (83.2 million).
Zambia is said to be ranked 120 among the countries which had the largest dollar amounts within the leaked files while South Africa has the highest ranked African country with about US$2 billion in the account.