Katungula calls on Financial Intelligence Centre to probe Forest Concession Holding Companies


Immediate past Forest Institute of Zambia (FIZ) General-Secretary, Chaliafya Katungula, has called on the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) to zero in on Forest Concession Holding Companies for possible money laundering, tax evasion activities.

Katungula said the FIC should investigate the directorship of the concession licenses and identify the actual beneficiaries, in accordance with its mandate under the Act.

In a statement issued in Lusaka on Saturday, Katungula said the Timber export register, which was available and accessible to any Zambian through the Forestry Department, provides a detailed overview of the sector’s financial dynamics.

“A glance at the figures on the register for 2022 reveals some startling statistics, prompting questions about why the timber and forest industry appears to lag behind in development,” he stated.

Katungula highlighted that if amounts of up to $900,000 in some cases are declared through exports alone, it highlights the sector’s immense potential to contribute to the economy.

He stated that it was, however, disheartening to see the industry failing to compete effectively through value addition, as local products face stiff competition from imported wooden products.

“A significant challenge has also emerged in the forestry sector where some concession companies are not employing forestry professionals,” Katungula said.

He stated that this alarming situation had gone unnoticed by the authorities, necessitating an urgent call for investigations.

Read More: Govt partners Zambia National Service to hunt down traders, seize illegally harvested timber trees

Katungula said by leveraging its investigative capabilities, the Centre can uncover any potential collusion or conflicts of interest.

He alleged that those in authority may be benefiting from these concessions, thereby neglecting critical requirements that harm the forestry profession.

“Investigating the directorship and ownership of concession holding companies will reveal the true beneficiaries, ensuring transparency and accountability,” Katungula emphasized.

He called on the Centre to scrutinize financial transactions, in order to detect any irregularities or illegal activities, such as tax evasion or money laundering, which might be undermining the sector’s growth.

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