By ThisDay Reporter 21st December 2009 THE state-run Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO), which is currently being audited for possible financial mismanagement, awarded contracts worth billions of shillings this year to dubious individuals, including those linked to the Bank of Tanzania's external payment arrears account (EPA) looting scandal. Business tycoon Yusuf Manji, who faces widespread allegations of corruption, was among the major beneficiaries of hefty TANESCO payments for the procurement of various goods and services through at least two of his companies during 2009. The companies - Quality Trade & Distribution Limited and Quality Motors Limited – were paid more than 19.7bn/- out of TANESCO's supposedly-depleted coffers over the past 12 months alone. The power utility firm, under its most recent managing director Dr Idris Rashidi, also did business with KERNEL Limited, a company owned by Dar es Salaam-based businessman Johnson Lukaza who is presently facing criminal charges over the EPA scandal. TANESCO paid Quality Motors Ltd more than 5.75bn/- for the supply of motor vehicles, and another 14bn/- or so to Quality Trade & Distribution Ltd for the supply of various tools and equipment including transformers and service line material for rural electrification. These particular payments are among expenditures under investigation as part of a special audit being carried out by the office of the Auditor and Controller General (CAG). Quality Trade & Distribution Ltd was initially registered at the Business Registration and Licensing Authority (BRELA) offices in Dar es Salaam as Quality Distribution and Trade Limited, on February 21, 2001. Just six days later (February 27), the name Quality Distribution and Trade Ltd was changed to Quality Trade & Distribution Ltd for reasons yet to be established. The registered directors of the company are Yusuf Manji and his deceased father, Mehboob Manji. Records show that various companies affiliated to the Manji-owned Quality Group have over the past few years been awarded other lucrative contracts worth billions of shillings by the reportedly cash-strapped TANESCO. The controversial businessman faces various allegations of widespread tax evasion, fraud and corruption, and has further been allegedly linked to the infamous Kagoda Agriculture Limited which alone received more than 40bn/- from the EPA account. He has denied the allegations. KERNEL Limited, owned by Johnson Lukaza, was this year awarded by TANESCO a contract worth around 70m/- for the supply and servicing of fire extinguishers. The management of the public utility (under Rashidi) did the deal with the company despite its owner being indicted over the EPA scandal last year. In criminal case number 1156 of 2008 at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam, Johnson Lukaza and his brother Mwesiga Lukaza are jointly charged with fraud, conspiracy and the theft of more than 6.3bn/- from the Central Bank. The Lukaza brothers are alleged to have forged legal documents purportedly between their company, KERNEL Limited, and Marubeni Corporation of Japan to siphon the money out of the EPA account. Rashidi left TANESCO this month after expiry of his three-year employment contract, but is believed to be eying a fresh mandate at the helm of the reportedly financially-troubled power firm. Well-placed sources say auditors from the CAG's office have already uncovered serious financial mismanagement at TANESCO through excessive purchases of luxury vehicles, furniture and construction of swimming pools at residential houses. The lavish spending spree apparently authorized by Rashidi came against the backdrop of serious liquidity problems said to have hit TANESCO for quite sometime now. The CAG-led special audit, which is basically targeting a massive syndicated loan of 300bn/- secured by TANESCO from various local banks in September 2007, is expected to be concluded next month.