EPA billionaires shocked banker FAUSTINE KAPAMA Daily News; Wednesday,January 28, 2009 @21:15 A prosecution witness told a court in Dar es Salaam yesterday, how he was shocked after his clients became billionaires shortly after opening an account at the bank in 2005. Ronald Manongi, Head of Operations and Administration with Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), two businessmen, Rajab Shaban Maranda and Farijala Shaban Hussein, opened a joint current account number 0101305008 on August 31, 2005 in the name of Kiloloma and Brothers after depositing 500,000/-. "But, two days later (on September 2, 2005), the Central Bank credited the account with 921,178.83 Pounds, equivalent to 1,864,949,294/45 for M/S B.C. Cars Exports Limited," he told principal resident magistrates Cypriana William, Saul Kinemela and Phocus Bampikya, who were presiding over the case. Mr Manongi was testifying in a case in which Maranda and Hussein are charged with forgery and stealing 1.86bn/- from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) through the External Payment Arrears (EPA). Led by Principal State Attorney Stanislaus Boniface, Mr Manongi, who is the second prosecution witness (PW2), told the court that he was suspicious of the transaction and expressed his concern in writing to BoT. "I expressed to the supervisor of banks my concern and doubts on the way the bank account was opened and hurriedly credited with such a colossal amount of money," he said. He told the court that the BoT answered his queries later. Referring to a letter signed by Deputy Governor Juma Reli, Mr Manongi testified that the Central Bank informed him that funds credited to Rashhaz Tanzania Limited and Kiloloma and Brothers were genuine payments originating from BoT in respect of national external debt obligations. Rashhaz Company owned by Maranda is also named to have been used in theft transactions from EPA account. The witness told the court further that he also wrote a letter to partners of Kiloloma and Brothers, seeking to know the source of such huge amount of money and who would be the beneficiaries. He testified that Maranda replied to him that the money was payment of debt on behalf of their principal, M/S B.C. Cars Exports Limited of Mumbai India and that they had authority to use part of such amount as per agreement they had entered with the company. After getting such information from both the Central Bank and Kiloloma and Brothers, the witness testified, he allowed the bank account to be operated. The businessmen withdrew at least all the money within two months, as at December 6, 2005 the account had only 41,920/-. Mr Manongi testified that out of 1,864,949,294/45, only 350,000 Sterling Pounds, equivalent to 714,700,000/- was transferred through telegraphic transfer to B.C. Cars Export Limited at HSBC in Britain and 41,920/- was deposited in another bank account operated by the accused. He told the court further that since the account was opened at his bank no any other deposit was made by the accused and had not operated it since they withdrew the entire amount. As of now, he testified, the accused have overdrawn 115,394/96. Hearing of the case continues today.