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Tanzania creates new squad to repossess ill-gotten wealth EA learned from Pres. J. Kikwete

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by nngu007, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. nngu007

    nngu007 JF-Expert Member

    Aug 21, 2011
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    Tanzania is planning to repossess assets obtained through criminal means starting this month, after the law establishing the Assets Recovery and Forfeiture Unit came into force on July 1.

    The legislation governs the freezing, forfeiture and restitution of the assets of local and foreign businessmen and politically exposed persons (PEPs) in cases where a request for mutual assistance cannot succeed in the requesting state due to the failure of its judicial system.

    The EastAfrican has learnt that President
    Jakaya Kikwete has authorised the creation of a department for the recovery and return of properties obtained through criminal acts, after conviction of the culprits in a court of law.
    We have also been informed that the office of the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is investigating a case involving a huge amount of money that a
    Tanzania citizen has stashed in a commercial bank in the country.
    Kisutu Magistrate Court’s has frozen the account pending its forfeiture to the recovery unit.

    When contacted, DCI Robert Manumba declined to comment and referred the issue to the office of the Attorney General for further details.

    Deputy Attorney General George Masaju told The EastAfrican from Dodoma last week that the Assets Recovery and Forfeiture Unit is part of the Prosecutions Division.

    Mr Masaju said the government was working on building the capacity of its officers in many areas including prosecution of cases involving corruption and fraud, cyber crimes and others.

    “In this office, for example, there has been an increase in cases handled in recent years because of changes in the social, economic and political sphere, and growth in technological crime, especially transnational crime,” he said.

    According to Mr Masaju, the unit will tackle money laundering trafficking of illicit drugs, human trafficking, terrorism, piracy, corruption, cyber crimes, terrorist financing and others.

    “Even though the Crimes Proceeds Act 1991 has been in existence for a long time, no such unit existed before. Hence in June, President Kikwete gave the go-ahead to create the unit,” said Mr Masaju.

    The government said the unit will work to recover all properties obtained through various crimes. The crimes in question have been dealt with in the past by imposing fines, imprisonment and other penalties.

    In view of that, people convicted of drug trafficking or corruption often get to enjoy their ill-gotten wealth after serving jail terms or paying fines, Mr Masaju said it was necessary that other deterrents like forfeiture be put in place.

    “The new unit will improve specialisation in the AG’s office, which has been tackling recovery of assets in a sporadic manner. These will be people who eat, sleep and think recovery and forfeiture,” Mr Masaju said.

    Dar es Salaam advocate Michael Ngalo said a similar law enacted in South Africa was helping that country recover a lot of property obtained through illegal means. According to Mr Ngalo, the state does not need to have a watertight case to take a suspect to court for corruptly obtaining property or assets.

    “But it is up to those suspected to prove that whatever they own was obtained legally by providing impeccable evidence to prevent such possessions being forfeited to the state,” he said.

    Even though the Proceeds of Crime Act 1991 was assented to the following year by president Ali Hassan Mwinyi, it is only under the current government that the law is being taken seriously.

    A senior government official told The EastAfrican that all suspects in the External Account Payment Arrears (EPA) scandal who obtained money fraudulently from the Bank of
    Tanzania, have had their known properties attached until they are cleared of the cases facing them.

    In the financial year 2009/2010, the government froze more than $60 million related to the EPA scandal, money later injected into that year’s financial budget.

    During the late Mwalimu
    Julius Nyerere’s presidency, with the late Edward Moringe Sokoine as prime minister, the government of the day embarked on a crusade against “Hujumu Uchumi” (economic sabotage) during many businesses were caught in the mix as the state went about repossessing property suspected to have been illegally acquired.

    The relevant provisions in the Crimes Proceeds Act 1991 state that: “All the property of that person at any time (i) between the day the offence or the earliest offence, was committed and the day on which the application is made; or (ii) within a period of five years immediately before the day on which the application is made; shall, whichever is the shorter be deemed, unless the contrary is proved, to be property that came into the possession or under the control of the person by reason of the commission of the specified offence or offences.”

    It further states: “Where the Attorney-General requests to amend an application for a forfeiture order and the amendment has or would have the effect of including additional property in the application for the forfeiture order, then;

    (a) the Attorney-General shall give written notice of the request to amend to any person who he has reason to believe may have an interest in the property to be included in the application for the forfeiture order;

    and (b) any person who claims an interest in the property to be included in the application for the forfeiture order may appear and adduce evidence at the hearing of the request to amend.”

    The East African