Revealed: Rostam's govt debts scandal ROSTAM AZIZ AT least three companies owned by Igunga Member of Parliament Rostam Abdulrasul Aziz are amongst particularly outstanding defaulters in the massive 180bn/- fraud linked to the commodity import support (CIS) scheme, it has been established. Government officials have confirmed that the three companies - Africa Trade Development, Africa Tanneries Limited, and Tanzania Leather Industries Limited - are all bona fide properties of the controversial businessman-cum-politician, and are owed more than 2.6bn/- by the government in connection with both the CIS scam and a related Japanese counterpart funds arrangement. The government sources say plans are now in the offing to confiscate assets owned by the three companies, in the latest bid to recover the debt that has remained outstanding for over a decade and a half. Official records show that one of the companies, Africa Tanneries Ltd, has an outstanding debt of 16,000,000 Japanese Yen (approx. 240m/-) from the import support fund dating way back to 1993, while another - Tanzania Leather Industries Ltd - has an outstanding debt of 36,820,174.10 Japanese Yen (approx. 548m/-), dating back to 1997. Africa Trade Development, in the meantime, is listed as having an outstanding unpaid debt of 58,648,318.60 Japanese Yen (approx. 873m/-), taken out of the commodity import support fund in 1997. In total, the outstanding CIS debt owed by the three companies amounts to around 1.6bn/-. According to our sources, there are reports suggesting that the Igunga MP has paid back some 0.5bn/- out of the total 1.6bn/- debt, which means that he still has an outstanding debt of more than 1bn/- solely linked to the commodity import support scheme. According to an informed Ministry of Finance official who spoke to THISDAY: Rostam is said to have paid back to the government a part of the CIS debt...but only after the scandal began to gain much publicity in the local media. It has also come to light that, apart from the 58,648,318.60 Japanese Yen (approx. 873m/-) linked to the CIS scam, Africa Trade Development has another outstanding government debt of more than 1.5bn/-, taken out of the Tanzania Japan Counterpart Fund. The company received the money from the Food Aid Counterpart Secretariat for purposes of importing food to ease a food shortage in the country, but has thus far defaulted on returning the loan to the government. Rostam himself is understood to have publicly admitted to being among the bigger CIS debtors of the CIS funds, though there is no word on when he intends to settle the outstanding amounts he is still owed by the government. Apart from being Igunga MP on a ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi ticket, Rostam is also a member of the CCM central committee, and is furthermore the immediate former CCM national treasurer. There are reports that the controversial businessman-cum-politician is one of several local business tycoons approached by CCM secretary-general Yusuf Makamba to help raise funds to finance the ruling partys campaigns in the upcoming 2010 general elections. Rostam is already facing multiple corruption-tinged allegations, including those of being the main architect behind both the Richmond power generation scandal and the mysterious Kagoda Agricultural Limited company said to have been the biggest beneficiary in the Bank of Tanzania external payment arrears (EPA) account embezzlement scandal. He continues to deny the allegations.