EPA: Well ensure a good job, stresses IGP Mwema THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam THE Inspector General of Police, Saidi Mwema, has asserted once again that the ongoing investigation into the external payment arrears (EPA) account embezzlement scandal at the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) will not fear or favour anyone. Addressing a news conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the IGP said the high-level EPA probe team chaired by Attorney General Johnson Mwanyika is keen to ensure a diligent job as instructed by President Jakaya Kikwete. The probe team was recently granted a time extension by President Kikwete after its initial six-month deadline expired. Fielding questions from journalists about the EPA investigation matter, Mwema said: The chairman of the probe team (Mwanyika) is the spokesman in this matter...However, let me just say that we are proceeding with the investigation and we will let you know when our work has been concluded. The IGP convened the news conference to brief reporters about various issues related to public safety and security in the country over the past year. He sought to assure Tanzanians that the EPA probe team will indeed conduct a thorough investigation and take all necessary measures in the aftermath. A special audit by international audit firm Ernst & Young last year revealed that more than 133bn/- was stolen from the key BoT account in illegal payments made to 22 companies during 2005/2006 alone. Out of the total amount, more than 90bn/- was paid through the use of forged documents. A couple of months ago, President Kikwete announced during a parliamentary address that suspects in the EPA scandal who fail to return the looted funds by October 31, this year, will face criminal prosecution. But the president did not specify whether or not the government has offered some form of amnesty deal for those suspects who do return the looted EPA funds. Mr Kikwete also declared that the government will take custody of the recovered EPA funds, and use them to finance an expanded fertilizer subsidy programme for the agricultural sector. Part of the recovered funds will be channelled towards re-capitalizing the state-owned Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) to start offering loans to farmers, he said. According to the president, the report of the EPA scandal probe team that was submitted to him showed that by August 18, this year, over 53bn/- of the embezzled EPA cash had been recovered from those who took it. He said another 60bn/- plus is expected to have been similarly recovered by October 31, this year, which is now the deadline for the return of all the looted funds. The president also stated that major assets - including houses, bank accounts and vehicles - belonging to the owners of 13 companies that were illegally paid more than 90bn/- from the EPA account during 2005/06 had been seized by the government, and their passports confiscated. However, this presidential declaration has done little to stem growing public criticism of the governments failure (or unwillingness) to prosecute the prominent personalities believed to have been behind the EPA scandal.