DCP funds: Who got what -A breakdown of where the lions share of the money actually went THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam A TOTAL of 82 companies - most of them controlled by a small group of individuals - were paid more than 50bn/- by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) under the controversial Debt Conversion Programme (DCP) in the 1990s. Our latest findings show that while the second phase government of president Ali Hassan Mwinyi made the decision to set up the DCP funds scheme in January 1990, it took a year for the actual administration of the funds to begin in earnest (January 1991). But within two years, the Mwinyi government opted to suspend the payments after uncovering massive fraud involved. By the time the payments were halted, there were 82 companies claiming to have been assigned debts worth 3.038bn/-, but who had actually been paid in excess of 50bn/- by the government largely through the use of forged documents. It has further been established that four of these companies received almost half of the entire DCP loot dished out under dubious circumstances. The report findings of a 1994 parliamentary probe committee chaired by the then Rorya member of parliament, Ayombe Ayila, reveals that a total of 50.877bn/- was paid under the DCP banner, which was a colossal sum of money even by todays standards. This amount was equivalent to 18.02 per cent of the governments entire recurrent budget during 1992/93, says the report. Companies controlled by four people received the lions share of the DCP funds, being paid a total of 22,835,448,037/- by the government. The Bunge report identifies the major beneficiaries of the funds as Subhash Patel (over 6.98bn/-), Tourism Promotion Services company (5.89bn/-), Dar Sheraton Hotel (5.48bn/-), and Nimrod Mkono (4.47bn/-). The following companies owned by Subhash Patel were paid out of the DCP funds, as follows: DECO Arts (3.05bn/-), Hotel Sea Cliff (1.78bn/-), M.M. Motors (1.6bn/-), and M.M. Garage (522m/-). On the other hand, Mkono and others who received more than 4bn/- were linked to Oxford Services Limited and Markus Investment Limited. It is quite possible that only a few people own the 82 companies that benefited from DCP. Unfortunately, our assessment of all these companies could not be concluded because the registrar of companies was unable to provide us with a full list of directors/shareholders of these companies, as we requested, says the Ayila committee report. The probe team established that 15 companies were paid more than 1bn/- each; 13 other companies received between 500m/- and 1bn/-; and 54 companies were paid 500m/- each. In its conclusion, the probe team report questioned the ethics of some senior government officials who embrace and protect businessmen, particularly of Asian origin. Fast forward ten years later; the third phase government of president Benjamin Mkapa sanctioned fresh dubious payments out of the BoTs external payment arrears (EPA) account, which was in effect a duplicate replacement for the DCP arrangement suspended by the Mwinyi government. The questionable decision by high-level officials in the Mkapa administration to revive DCP in the form of EPA, is now traced back as the origin of the subsequent massive looting of funds from this key central bank account during 2004/05. Furthermore, the same people implicated in the DCP scandal a decade earlier were allowed to repeat the fraud and similarly outright theft of taxpayers money through the EPA account. They include controversial businessman Jayantkumar Chandubhai (Jeetu) Patel, who was one of those singled out in the 1990s DCP scam. The Ayila committee report uncovered a highly-suspicious relationship between Jeetu Patel, Subhash Patel, the equally-controversial V.G Chavda, and prominent local lawyer Mkono, revolving around the DCP. Early last year, after the 133bn/- EPA account embezzlement scam was first exposed and made public, President Jakaya Kikwete ordered all payments from this account to also be halted. A special audit by international audit firm Ernst & Young identified a total of 22 mainly shell companies as being the recipients of the misappropriation of funds from the EPA account.