Tanzania's top politicians linked to money-laundering deals p It is now appearing that the long dreaded money laundering crime is a big business in Dar es Salaam, with its connections winding up through Tanzania's political establishment, if the recent media reports are to go by. According to This Day Newspaper some prominent politicians in Tanzania are alleged to be involved in a money laundering activities, but the government's financial crimes watchdog is woefully prepared to deal with the problem, it has been revealed. A month-long investigation by This Day has revealed the dishonest politicians, senior government officials and other individuals have been stashing away proceeds of corruption and economic crimes abroad for several years now. ' These corrupt politicians have been buying luxury houses in the UK, US, Dubai,South Africa and elsewhere as a part of the elaborate money laundering scam,' said an official close to the government. ‘Sometimes they buy these properties in the names of their children or use private companies to try to conceal their identities.' The government established the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in 2007 to tackle money laundering activities, but the economic crimes watchdog has been largely ineffective. ‘The Financial Intelligence Unit was set up with a technical assistance from the US government. It was supposed to have 300 strong work force, but is now being manned by a team of less than ten senior staff,' said a well placed government official. The FIU was established with donor funding under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2006 as an extra ministerial department under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. The head of the FIU is a commissioner, currently Herman Mark Kessy. ‘The primary function of the FIU is to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism in Tanzana,' according to the statement on the website of the finance ministry. While the FIU was established primarily to cut off supplies for terrorist funding, law enforcement experts said the unit could be very effective to tackle corruption if properly funded and operated. ‘The FIU could have assisted the government to trace where funds stolen from the bank of tanzania's external payment account (EPA) were hidden,' said one government official. She added, ‘politicians who benefited from corrupt payments from the Richmond scam, military radar purchase and other scandals could have been easily identified with the help of the FIU.' The government has already admitted that members of parliament and other senior public officials have not been declaring their assets as required by the law. However, the Public Leaders Ethics Secretariat, which is supposed to ensure MPs and other public officials comply with the law, has been much criticized for being a toothless agency. ‘There are many cases where a politician might buy a house in Canada for example, but never declare this property,' said another official. President Jakaya Kikwete has pledged to review appropriate legislation on public leadership ethics, but not yet to take any formal action. By last year, there were five money laundering investigations that were ongoing at the FIU. However, experts say the unit has no mechanism in place to exchange information and coordinate with regulators and law enforcement agencies effectively and to cooperate effectively amongst themselves. The government has been advised to develop mechanisms to record and maintain comprehensive statistics on money laundering investigations, prosecutions and convictions, mutual legal assistance and extradition matters so as to be able to assess the effectiveness of the anti-money laundering legislation. In a breach of the long held government silence and pretence, the Minister for Good Governance, Mr Mathias Chikawe recently did not mince words when in his address at one of his official meetings he said the Ethics Secretariat had failed in performing its duties. The poor performance of the Ethics secretariat had allowed the politicians to deceive the country about their wealth. In an article carried by the Tracker in July this year, we reported on the poor performance of the Ethics Secretariat in ensuring public servants declared their wealth. Repeated attempts to get information from the Ethics Secretariat in regards to the number of public servants who had declared their assets were not responded to. The contents of this article was obtained from This Day Newspaper of November 22-28 (ISSN 1821-5262 No 1193)Pg 1&2. Additional information in regards to Minister Chikawe's assessment of the Ethics Secretariat was provided by the Tracker's team.