BoT funds recovery exercise: A wild goose chase ? -Reports abound of elaborate money-laundering tactics THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam ABOUT half of the 133bn/- embezzled from the Bank of Tanzanias external payment arrears account is already stashed away in off-shore bank accounts, with Dubai emerging as the most favoured hiding place for the loot, THISDAY can reveal today. According to impeccable sources close to the ongoing state investigation of the EPA scandals main actors, around 60bn/- of the money has been either hidden in foreign bank accounts or invested abroad, while the other 60bn/- or so has been sunk into various local investments including real estate, luxury vehicles and company shares. It is understood that much of the real estate property bought by suspected beneficiaries of the monumental scam is located in Dar es Salaams most expensive and upmarket neighbourhoods. There are quite a number of mansions in the citys Oysterbay, Masaki, Msasani, Mikocheni and Upanga areas that were purchased through funds that can be traced right back to the EPA deal, asserted one of our sources. And according to other reliable reports reaching us, one of the EPA beneficiaries even bought a multi-storeyed hotel building in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Insiders say the high-level investigation led by Attorney General Johnson Mwanyika has already started tracing assets and is now moving to freeze the bank accounts of the 22 companies identified in a special BoT audit report as having directly benefited from the EPA scam. But our other well-placed sources tell us the money that was fraudulently siphoned from the EPA account during 2005/06 has long since been transferred from local bank accounts registered in the names of these companies. In some cases, official bank records show that the money was transferred out of the companies accounts on the very same day it was deposited by the BoT, said one source. The EPA funds beneficiaries are believed to have used various elaborate money-laundering techniques, including channelling the money through local bureaux de change and subsequently out of the country. The bureaux de change were used to convert much of this money into US dollars and other foreign currencies. The funds were then transferred to Dubai and Mauritius, said the source. According to this source, although the attorney-generals chambers has already started drafting letters for the freezing of the bank accounts belonging to the 22 listed companies, the money was transferred from those accounts a long time ago. It is now believed that some of the funds may have been hidden in other associated companies where the suspected individual beneficiaries are also listed as shareholders, or in the names of close relatives including spouses, children, siblings, in-laws and the like. Our sources say Dubai, which has no extradition treaties with many countries including Tanzania, has emerged as a favourite hideout for several of the individuals with links to the companies listed in the BoT looting. They acknowledge that if this is verified, the exercise to recover the money siphoned from the EPA scam would become all the more difficult. Although nobody has so far been prosecuted over the scandal nor have any of the funds been recovered, it is understood that several people have already been questioned as part of the high-level, AG-led investigation ordered by President Kikwete. It has also been suggested that the government could turn to the United Nations and the World Bank in its attempt to recover the looted billions, through such programmes as the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative that can provide requisite financial, technical and legal resources needed to trace dirty monies hidden away in havens abroad. The initiative is aimed at enforcing provisions of the UN treaty to fight global corruption, which came into effect a few years ago and explicitly called for the return of illicit assets. According to World Bank president Robert Zoellick, corrupt money flowing abroad from poor countries is estimated at $40bn annually. The 22 companies identified by the BoT special audit report as having benefited from the illegal payments from the EPA account are Navycut Tobacco (T) Limited, Ndovu Soaps Limited, Bina Resorts Limited, Bencon International Limited, Maltan Mining Company Limited, Bora Hotels & Apartments Limited, Venus Hotels Limited, and B.V. Holdings Limited � all registered in the name of one individual, Jayantkumar Chandubhai Patel (better known as Jeetu Patel). Others are Kagoda Agriculture Limited, VB & Associates Company Limited, Changanyikeni Residential Complex Ltd, Money Planners & Consultants, Njake Hotel & Tours Limited, G&T International Limited, Excellent Services Limited, Mibale Farm, Liquidity Service Ltd, Clayton Marketing Ltd, M/S Rashtas (T) Ltd, Maregesi Law Chambers (Advocates), Kiloloma & Brothers, KERNEL Ltd and Rashtas (T) Ltd.